I have been to India no less than 9 times. The problem with traveling to a country for work is that you never really “do” the touristy stuff. Personally, I can leave the touristy stuff to the…well yeah.
But tonite I was sitting in the backseat of the car, returning from the trade show, when we got stuck in massive 5 o’clock traffic. We were at India Gate. Without thinking twice I told the driver I was getting out right there (oh yeah that caused a scene). Precious white woman cargo who can only ever be delivered to hotel doors. WRONG. This white woman was going to walk back to the hotel. I hate traffic. I promised to call him when I got to the hotel and like any hopeful “I promise to call you” recipient, he seemed comforted.
Alone and in a crowd I circled India Gate until there was no more light in the day.
How does it smell? – A heady fragrance with notes of car exhaust, burning rubbish, still water, cultivated body odor, ice cream, marigolds, cheap ass cologne, incense and could that be laundry soap. Ah yes, someone had hung out their dainties to dry.
How does it sound? – I had close my eyes to hear it all. Rickshaw motors, the squeak squeak of the paddle boat pedals that have never seen a lick of WD40, children laughing, shouts from the “pick up” cricket games, car horns and the shouts from the street vendors selling their wares from ice cream to post cards to nimbu soda (lime soda water).
How does it feel? – Like an evening stroll at sunset. It felt comfortable, it felt warm with the last rays of sun on my face, it felt like I belonged. Familiar. It was passagiata. The evening stroll that exists all over the world from my little neighborhood in Brooklyn to a village in Tuscany to a neighborhood in Cairo. Families with their tots — elderly couples, arms locked — young lovers, nervous and giddy – – da boys, looking for the action — tourists, sticking their head into the arch from afar for the perfect photo to post on FB.
How does it look? – Just like this. Only better.