Sheila and Yair do the world
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  • Half an hour in India

    Posted on July 5th, 2009 Sheila Yair No comments

    trafficI walk out to the street. It is horrifically noisy, it seems like a thousand cars are beeping at once. It is a small village of about 1000 people but it is noisier than New York’s midtown. On a one lane road cars, pedestrians and animals all try to make their way in both directions. A big truck is stuck in the middle and no wheels, feet or hoofs are moving at the moment. I look at the poor kids running around they are so filthy. After 10 minutes that seem like eternity things start to move. A beggar jumps up at me, I avoid him and get hit by a car that is speeding along. Despite the combusted mass of cars, people and animals they drive as if they are on the German Autobahn. I walk in to a shop to get some bread and toilet paper, I have to haggle with the shop keeper because he states a price 3 times higher than the real one. Everything here has to be an ordeal. Of course as I walk out I see that he shortchanged me so I go back to get my 5 rupees.

    I walk to the post office, naturally there is a long line, and it goes all the way outside. I stand here with the sun beating on my face and sewage running 2 meters from me. How can people survive here? I finally get in and see the cause of the line. The stamps here don’t stick by themselves so everybody has to apply glue from one jar with a stick before clearing the way for the next person.

    I look for the cleanest place to eat. I sit down at a place that seems OK. The owner serves the rice with his hands and his helper who is frying the potatoes checks the temperature of the food with his finger, thanks for the concern. There is a little plate of salt in front of me with mounds left behind by all the fingers who reached for it, I guess no salt for me. As the food arrives I wonder who in India didn’t directly or indirectly touch my lunch. I add hot pepper, my only friend here. Two women are coming over to ask for money. This place is hell.

    I walk out to the street. It seems a busy day. There is always something happening here even in the smallest villages. It is a truck stuck in the middle of the road. Even though they only have one lane for cars, people and animals things always somehow work out. I look at the children running around. It is amazing how happy they seem without anything, no ball toy or video game to entertain them. Things start moving. Some indecipherable harmony always prevails. A beggar jumps up at me, I almost get run over. I have to remember to more careful. I give him a few coins. I walk in to a shop to get some bread and toilet paper, things are so cheap here compare to back home. Even though he is probably overcharging me it is pennies. As I walk out I see that he shortchanged me, oh well 10 cents down the drain. I walk to the post office, there is a line stretching. I stand outside, it is a sunny day and I look up to the mountains and think of all the birds and monkeys that are playing around in the trees. I get in and buy my stamps. They don’t stick to well, luckily somebody thought of that and has left a jar of glue.

    I look for the cleanest place to eat. I sit down at a place that seems OK. The two friendly guys serve me a delicious plate of rice potatoes and vegetables. I add a little hot pepper just to be on the safe side. Two women in gorgeous brightly colored saris are headed this way. This place is heaven.

  • The number two to Galoo

    Posted on July 5th, 2009 Sheila Yair 1 comment

    galuWe are up in the mountains in a tiny little village called Galoo. It is on a hilltop above a forest teeming with birds; parakeets, magpies, woodpeckers, raptors and other little chirpers. Our little room has huge windows and we can see the forest the sunset the sunrise and snow peaks. When I say tiny village I mean five houses big with a couple hotels and a café selling soda and biscuits. If we want to buy anything or eat out we have to go one village down which is about 40 minutes, if we want to call or use the internet we have to go two villages down which is about an hour away. Unfortunately what comes down must go up and in both cases the way back involves climbing. For all this we use the number two line, our feet. It is a little peek in to the times before cars. It also teaches you the importance of a shopping list because you do not want to remember something halfway up the hill.

    Our trail mates are local villagers walking their livestock up and down, convoys of donkeys and mules bringing up anything from bags of cement and bricks to bags of flour and soda bottles and walking bushes with two legs (the local women go up to the forest and pile themselves with grass for livestock or wood for cooking, they rarely take a pile smaller than their own size.)

    monkeyIt is a great place for hiking, there are many trails going in all directions. Our favorite trail is about a 40 minutes walk to a waterfall with pristine green icy water. Aside from birds we have seen many monkeys. One can watch these human like animals for hours. They each have a very unique character. You can see the playful young ones, the caring mothers, the worried ones and the aggressive Alfa males. We have also become quite experts in monsoon prediction. It rains almost everyday for two to three hours. But it can rain at any point of the day so you have to know the monsoon clouds from the harmless regular clouds, otherwise you are under a three-hour long cold shower in the middle of nowhere.

    It is the 3rd of July today. In Conesus Lake, a beautiful lake in upstate New York (the real upstate, the one hour from Canada one not the upstate New York City dwellers usually refer to which is just half an hour out of the city) there is a tradition of lighting flares all around the lake. It is called the ring of fire. We thought of going up to a glacial lake two days away and having a little ring of fire there but Sheila has come down with dysentery. I will spare you the details and just say that she is recovering and constantly dreaming of clean food. I know she wishes she could be in the cookout tonight. We both do and not just for the food.

    Happy 4th of July.