Sunday, May 10, 2009

An End

Day 425

I was up very early for my train to Delhi. In just a few hours I was there. I checked into a hotel that was better (cheaper) than the one I had stayed at before. After grabbing some food I picked up a shopping bag. There were a few last souvenirs that I wanted from India.

When the shopping was done I grabbed all the of the things that needed to go home and took them to a shipping place that an American who I had me in McLoed Granj had recommended to me. While they were packing everything up a man who was a, well, I don't know what to call them. I've seen guys liked this all over India and I had thought that they were some type of holy man. He had long hair and was wearing a long orange sarong, there was paint on his face. In Manali I had bought a t-shirt that said: No Change Money, No Hashish, No Boat, No Silk, No Rickshaw, No Problem. He came up and started staring at my shirt, I thought that he was trying to read it and turned towards him. He reached out and poked my breast. The parcel mailing guys yelled at him instantly and got him to go away. They also apologized to me for his behavior. I was past done with India at this point. I got a tuk tuk to the mall.

The first mall was no good as it didn't have a movie theater. The second one I tried was huge and My Moms Boyfriend or something like that was playing right away. When it was over I decided to see Monsters vs. Aliens as well. To kill the few hours I had I went to the bookstore and picked up a few things. They were really cheap here.

It was when I was getting a manicure that I started to feel bad. I hated that I felt like it was time to escape from India. I thought of all the people who can't escape, who can't even eat dinner. I was mad at myself for letting a few difficult days and a man poking me (incidentally this once happened in NYC as well) get to me.

A few days ago I had picked up an English language Indian travel magazine. One of the articles was called No Free Lunch by Pico Iyer. He wrote that "the reason most of us travel, in the end, is to surrender. Away from the habits that tie us down, feed form the illusion of being known, loose in a world that is new to us." He compared the emotions evoked by travel to falling in love. For him the problem was that the unfamiliar had become familiar. This was his price of travel. For me I think that the price is knowing. Everyone has seen the pictures on tv, but you turn it off and go about your daily life. There's no need to think about severe poverty when you have your own daily problems to deal with. Or maybe it seemed hard to me before, in my apartment in NYC and my nice job and nice desk to see how real poverty is, I don't know. Now that I've seen it all day every day for a month I don't know that I can ever get it out of my mind. In fact, I hope that I never do. I have always known that I was fortunate, but now I understand just how much. Perhaps my travel price tag is also my travel gift. If it is, then I will both pay and gratefully except it, just not always with a smile.

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