Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Back in Town

I'm back! I've come a long way to get here and a ton has happened. I got as much of it as I could on tape, but of course all I can show that way is the small slice I can point a camera at. There's plenty that I couldn't record that deserves to be shared.

Example: Have you ever been blessed by an elephant? I have.

I was walking barefoot through the entrance to the Virupaksha temple in the ruined capital city of what used to be the Vijayanagara empire when I spotted something big and gray immediately to my right. It was a ceremonial elephant, paint on its head and garlands at its feet. Our professor told us that if we gave it money, it would bless us.

So I stepped up and the big guy stuck the end of a trunk my way. I dropped a five rupee coin in a nostril. The elephant caught it and whipped the trunk back to give the donation to the handler. It then lifted its trunk up and gently laid it on top of my head for a couple seconds before gently lifting it up again to receive the next offering.

I'd just been blessed by a giant pachyderm. Wow.

That's a drop in the bucket. I've climbed hundreds of steps to see temples commemorating everything from two-foot cylindrical shivalingas to hundred-plus feet statues of the relatives of Jain saints. I've explored the tombs of Muslim sultans, scrambled across steep rocks to find artifacts from the stone age, swam in the Indian ocean, sung karaoke for the first time in my life in a Goan resort at the request of a group of Russian tourists, helped throw a birthday party in the windowless back room of a hotel bar with highly irregular electricity, only two working lights and at least one cockroach as long as my middle finger, chased mice around a train car, and a lot more besides.

I have lots of stories, lots of footage, and lots of pictures. I'll be uploading as much as possible over the next few days but it's gonna be tricky; the Internet connection where we're staying is down so I've had to be... creative in my methods of posting. Don't worry, if everything goes to plan I'll have a new photo album up each day for the next few days.

More pressing though is that my time is almost up. As I'm writing this Wednesday is drawing to a close. I have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday left here in Pune. Midnight Saturday night/ Sunday morning I catch a shuttle to Mumbai and the International Airport where I'll be flying home by way of a stop in London for a few days.

Three days remain.

I'm not going to kid myself into thinking you will be checking multiple times a day to read the hundreds of stories I could post to this thing over those three days, (many of which I already have written out). Besides, I've got a lot more I want to do with my last few moments in India than sit in front of my computer all day, (I'll be doing plenty of that already as I have one last 10-20 page final paper due Saturday).

Expect more photos for sure. If I have time, I'll toss in a blog post or two too. I'll definitely have at least one more before I leave the country. Until then...

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