India: the Beginning

December 28, 2010

Hello from the future! or at least 10.5 hours into the future if you live on the east coast. In the future, the world will be intense in every way. Colors will be brighter and smells will be more aggressive, sometimes even staggeringly aggressive. Driving laws will be nullified and rickshaws will take over the streets. People will be crazier in every way, and will be unable to give straight answers (but they will be able to do the infamous head-waggle). And of course, the food will be better (but much less healthy). It will be a better world for all.

That being said, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I spent four days in Dubai at the start of the trip, staying with family and meeting Raji’s grandparents., who are truly spectacular people. Indians have a way of saying the word “ha” (translation: an affirmative “yeah”) quite often during a conversation in hindi, and his grandmother has the most adorable “ha” of any other hindi-speakers I know, partly because it comes out every five seconds and partly because of the enthusiasm she puts behind each and every one of them. We spent a lot of time hanging with family and helping Smita with wedding preparations. Dubai as a city was pretty spectacular. I loved it mostly because in the architecture world, Dubai is a bit infamous. It is thought of as a collection of famous signature buildings plopped down in the desert with no real logic or planning (i.e.: you have to have a car to go anywhere, there are no public spaces, there are barely any sidewalks…). And that is more or less true. But there is still quite a bit of potential there. With Dubai’s economic crash a year ago, it now has time to stop and sort out all of the issues, and focus on some serious infrastructure and master-planning work. I can’t wait to see it in five years.

And then India. Oh man, oh man. This country is slowly breaking my body but stealing my heart.

The pollution is insane and every rickshaw ride you take is removing at least a year from your life.  The food is spectacular, but probably because of the sudden diet change and the new set of bacterias to deal with, my stomach is in constant turmoil. My nose is introduced to a new “worst smell of all time” on a daily basis. Intense partying and crazy sleeping hours are not helping anything either.  But good god this is a beautiful country.  I spent the past few weeks mostly in Mumbai and a bit in Hyderabad for the wedding, and have now seen some of the most beautiful colors, the most poverty-stricken slums, the tastiest foods, the craziest drivers, the blackest exhaust from taxis, the most run-down shops, the most extravagant clubs, and the most people trying to cross the street during moving traffic. And somehow, it all works. It is a constant reminder that life, in its best and in its worst, is truly beautiful.

I’ll update soon with pictures.

4 Responses to “India: the Beginning”

  1. Dan Saulnier Says:

    Yeah, man! Your descriptions bring back some good memories. Except for the rumbly tumbly, I wish I was there with you. Keep an eye out for my dad, he should be arriving to the greater Surat area in a few weeks.

    Oh, and Ronis and Dionisio said to say Hola to you and Raji.

    ~ Dan

  2. Hal Spitzer Says:

    I gather that everything looks great and smells horrendous. That’s fair for most of my preconceptions.
    Looking forward to some photos.

    best, Hal

  3. Danielle Says:

    Johnny, this is amazing. I am so happy for you and your adventures! I can’t wait to see what the rest of your time over there has in store for you. Good luck, keep safe and most of all (which obviously I have no need to say to you but I will say it anyways) enjoy yourself!


  4. Truly an amazing adventure John – please send more photos – you look great!! Soak in all the trip has to offer especially some of the lifetime friendships!! More later, Love, Sandi and Freddy

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