Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surrender

(Hartenstein Arrives in Delhi... Where's my Bindi?)
Surrender: Filth. Squalor. Decay. India, I love it. Red silt dust hanging over night street lamps in a fine mist covering me like pixie dust. I have arrived in Delhi at 2 a.m. to wander Janapath and wait for the city to awake. I am at her mercy. Be gentle with me, Delhi.
India Moment #1: “Lights Over Sleeping Cities.” Saw it as we lifted in the clouds over Taipei, mesmerized by it again rising out of Hong Kong harbor at midnight, skimming on wings just above the wine dark sea. Dizzied by it as we touched down in Delhi. The flight attendants passed through the aisles spraying disinfectant on all the passengers. No magical last rites here. I am alive. But some lights, no matter how bright, are only in my head.
Imperial Hotel: I am staying this first night in the historic Imperial Hotel, treating myself actually. Such opulence only colonial British could instill. Watched the sunrise over the east garden in the outdoor breakfast patio sitting cross-legged like a boy Raja in turban, snapping my fingers at men in red coats and gold buttons to bring more cream for my tea. Time to hit the street before I become a white devil oppressor.
India Moment #2: “I Am An Angel Of Death.” While passing through the security gate at the Imperial last night, we are stopped by armored guards carrying assault rifles who take five minutes to check for terrorist bombs beneath my taxi. I had no idea I was a potential patsy. Makes things suddenly quaint, don’t you think?
India Moment #3: “No Man Is An Island.” Used the hotel’s Gentlemen’s room for a very private moment of… personal evacuation. Stepping out of the stall, a bearded young man congratulated me heartily and handed me a warm towel. “This way to the wash and face massage, sir.” Nothing much more to do in these cultural exchanges but stand there nodding as he flushed a second and third time, congratulating me indeed.
Left the cobblestone entry, through the metal detector, and out the guarded metal gate into the city after breakfast for a brisk walk before a full day of touring. Thinking. Grinning. I am going to have so much fun here. Just grinning, look at this place, I already love it. It was then I saw them, a group of ten men rising out of the dust and filth, walking toward me covered in feces and black soot, their hands out like zombies. I didn’t realize it at first. I’d been wearing flip-flops so long I wasn’t used to shoes. I was stunned. Looking down, I saw I was standing in a gutter of urine.
I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there..
    Hope you are doing well.
    You are an awesome writer & write with such intensity. Both arushi & me love it ! We remember you often. Take care.!!!
    Reena Dodeja ( Arushis mom ) Remember ???

    ReplyDelete