Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ushapalooza 2010 Wraps Up

Ushapalooza 2010 has officially ended its tour through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodphur, Jalna, Mumbia and Kochi. Usha is coming back to the states this weekend, but the rest of us have made it back safely. We travelled 34 hours and dropped two passports (the Breezes) that were returned by a guy in line, lost one jacket (me) that the taxi driver had to come back for, and had a temporarily lost ticket to Chicago (Thom). The only thing Martha reported losing was her appetite from eating airport food for 34 hours.

For posterity, our modes of transportation during the trip included: Van, Ell, plane, cars, rickshaw (bike and motorized), horse cart, airport bus, elephant, camel, jeep, safari truck, taxi, ferry boat, escalator, and feet.

Animals we saw, in no particular order: Lizard, antelope, chicken, duck, gazelle, pig, sheep, water buffalo, cow, dog, bobcat, peacock, rooster, camel, cobra, horse, monkey (lemur & red faced something or other), tiny squirrels, mosquito, swan, egret, parrot, pigeon, crow, hawk, goat, ox, elephant and cat.

We should have created a list of food we ate too. I apologize for being such a sucky food correspondent. I will say that the mango juice was excellent.

I have a few random photos to mention that didn’t make it elsewhere, below.

One thing I learned about Thom during the trip is that he meets a new best friend at every stop. Here he is with the Barwale family drivers in Bombay:

These guys below were tenacious in following us around one night, asking for money. The problem with giving in India is that it is interpreted as the beginning of the transaction, not the end, and only increases the intensity of the asking and there is no end to people in need. Wanting to help but being overwhelmed was probably the hardest part about being here. I hope one of these guys gets the girl and wins a million dollars on Who Wants to Be Millionaire in a few years.

It was interesting to see the easy affection between males here. Holding hands and having arms around each other was quite common.

Also quite common in the smaller villages: Men hanging out, while women work. It’s still a very patriarchal society, although while we were here, a bill was before parliament that would reserve a third of the elected seats for women, which would put them ahead of us.

I never got tired of the bright colors that women wear. When talking to men is considered forward, I guess you go with the bright colors to show yourself off.

And it never ceases to amaze me how they can carry all that stuff on their heads

And, I can't leave India without mentioning how much I love the “notorious” Indian head nod, as Usha calls it. It needs a video rather than an explanation, and here's one I stole from the intertubes:

A very small subset of meanings the head nod has:
  • yes
  • no
  • maybe
  • whatever
  • thank you for the tip I am very grateful
  • sure buy that crappy hat -- it's your money to waste
  • I am honored to open this door for you
  • sure you can think you will pay for dinner tonight
  • I see that you are indicating you do not want coffee or tea, but I cannot believe that anyone would not want coffee or tea
  • no we don't make the dish mild spicy but I will say we do anyway
  • yes our destination is 30 minutes away (repeat 3 times during the trip)
In conjunction with a slight smile, grimace, smirk, raised eyebrow, scowl, or other facial expression, it can mean just about anything. I wish I could do it properly.

I think one of my main goals was not to be seen as this during our trip:


Final thoughts from everyone:

Martha & Clark: The sense of hospitality here was quite moving and well beyond what we usually experience. People seem genuinely happy to be with you.
Martha: Struck by the diversity of people, circumstances, colors, smells, of everyone and everything sharing the same space with much incident. There is a respect for life and an acceptance of death. And at no time did we feel unsafe.
Cindy: Enormous gratitude towards Usha. We couldn’t have had this experience without her. (Of course we feel this way too).
Thom: He had heard over the last 10 years (since last being here) how India is developing and moving forward and making progress. This trip underscored that as he’s now seen it first-hand – although there is still a lot of poverty, there are many more cars and motorcycles and fewer animals on the road.

Clark: Impressed by the diversity of the experience – we saw desert, sea, hill, the capital, rural and a lot of history.

Dan: I really enjoyed the barely contained chaos of the street and the shops. Although it was hard to move sometimes, it was an experience I just don’t get in the states. I wouldn’t want to live in such chaos, but it was fun to experience it.

And thanks for everyone following along in the blog -- it been a great experience and we are eternally grateful to Usha and her family for such graciousness and hospitality.


David Wright said...

Welcome home, Dan. Rest and recover. Looking forward to talking with you when you do. I will take you out for a mango juice.

lara said...

Welcome home! Thanks for keeping us informed on your amazing trip. It was nice to stay connected.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for sharing, Dan. It was fun reading about your adventures. I'm glad all went well.