Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blog Therapy - a Birthday Present to Myself!


It's "Monsoon Season" in India..........from "A" to "Z"(pronounced ZED here in India) or, from Abohar to Ziro,(the first and last cities in India as listed alphabetically by Wikipedia)....

Today I am celebrating my second birthday here in India.....49 years young/old........I guess it depends on your perspective..Preston already thought I was turning 50!

I arrived in Delhi this morning, after being on a business trip......up at 4:00am and landed at 7:30am......to rain.....

So how does a "Birthday Boy" in India celebrate his birthday on a very wet and rainy day in Delhi, India........while waiting for the rain to stop?

He get's back to the Blog he has been neglecting.......

The monsoon season was greeted with open arms by many......it is the catalyst that provides the populous with a much needed necessity......water in India is tyically in scarce supply.....

Taken from a moving train just outside of Jaipur India


Some curse monsoon season, here in Delhi, the local government is under heavy scrutiny and criticism......the streets are flooding, traffic comes to a standstill....it seems the "upgrades" that have been undertaken by the government to beautify the city have caused troubles......

The onset of Monsoon Season also means somewhat cooler temperatures......the rain also washes away the dust that coats everything outside......gives everything a good clean/dirty look.....

In Jaipur, the Aravali Mountains are lush and green.......a nice change from the winter......it's amazing how a few drops of moisture from the sky can transform a desolate looking gray and dull rock formation into lush and green flora and fauna.

While the rains bring beauty.........one also see how the rains have an adverse affect on those less fortunate.....those who live without a roof overhead literally live in the rain......

I have captured some amazing sights with my camera lens......if you live in India for any length of time, you will witness firsthand some of the most heart wrenching sights......that unlike a photograph......cannot be deleted from your memory.

My words will not adequately describe what I witnessed on Thursday August 19, 2010;shortly after departing my train to Jaipur and awaiting my taxi, I saw one of the most poignant scenes since arriving in India.

I was greeted at the train station with a very hard downpour......I was also greeted by a uniformed driver with an umbrella who gave me instructions to wait at the curb while he retrieved the car from a remote lot......not wanting to get soaked, I heeded his instructions and joined the hundreds of other passengers who had just arrived who were taking cover under the overhang just outside.

I decided it would be best to move away from the exit door and made my way down to an opening I could see over the crowd....just a few meters from the exit doors.

With umbrella in hand, I ventured into the heavy rain under it's protection....doing my best to stay as dry as possible, as the crowd would not allow me to make my way under the protection of the roof of the building. The umbrella was no match for mother nature........my wool dress slacks were getting pelted by the driving rain...from my knees down I could see the rain drops leaving their marks on the dry fabric.....my leather dress shoes.....with the near perfect shine getting ruined as I made my way through the half inch deep accumulation of water.....

As I made my way to the place where the crowd was less thick......the opening I could see at the distance....my eyes were focused on the "puddles"....and I suddenly began the internal "cursing" and "damning" one does when mother nature does her thing.......

As I made my way to the area......my eyes were taking an assessment of the "damage" mother nature had dealt me......I was taking stock of my situation......internally pissed.....my shoes would have to be "cared for properly" when I reached the hotel.....I would have to change into a "dry pair of pressed slacks" for my meeting.....socks.....yes the spare pair I had packed could be put to use....one more thing to change which would cause a delay to my "precious minutes".....delaying my meeting.....and by the way....where is the "damn driver".....doesn't he know that I am waiting in the rain....what's taking him so long.....and he took my briefcase...."hell he better be protecting my computer as he walks to God knows where to reach the car"....I found myself glancing at my watch several times......and staring at the endless stream of cars slowly passing causing a jam.

I was so "wrapped up" in myself.....in my world.....then I looked around......that's when India brought me back to reality.

The "reason" the crowd had thinned where I had chosen to stand was right behind me...

India slapped me in the face with the realness of what many struggle with daily......India had humbled me once again.

Laying in a puddle of water at least 2 inches deep..... was a man.....on his side...covered in flies....his newspaper bed had been overtaken as the rainwater made its way into the depression in the pavement....his clothing was drenched......he had no shoes....no socks.....and he must not have been able to walk...his head was in the deepest part of the water.....his nose barely above the surface of the dirty water.....riddled with trash and God knows what....his hand instinctively pushing the water away from his nose....he just lay there no one helping him......when his body would rock every once in a while, the flies that had made there way back to cover his clothing, would suddenly take flight until he became still enough for them to return.

When witnessing something so saddening.....so pitiful, you do not have the decency as a human being to even consider capturing such a scene with your lens. Yet, it was the camera was never truly needed anyway......the image will never leave my memory.....

Writing about it seems more humane than sharing spoken words......I am not sure if this makes any sense......sharing the experience in spoken word seems to be more demeaning and less sensitive.....while writing and sharing it brings more meaning to the situation many face here in India.....the poverty becomes so real when you are inches from a man having to live in such conditions.......when the poverty is "speeding" by you as you drive through the city streets......it doesn't have the same meaning as when you are "so close" to it.

My wet slacks....the ruined shine on my wet leather shoes my soaking wet socks.........my precious minutes.......moments before seemed like such a huge inconvenience......

On the way to the hotel......in the air conditioned cabin of the dry vehicle I was riding in...I felt a chill......and adjusted the vents from blowing on me........was the chill of the conditioned air or the chill of reality setting in......all I could think about was that nameless man......without anyone to take care of him.....thinking about how his "fate" had delivered such sad circumstances to his life....if you could call his existence a "life"....why do such things have to exist in our world.....?

It's my birthday.....I am surrounded by those that love me....I received a phone call from my mother and sister wishing me well..........Linda baked a "Cheese Cake"....my favorite....I have received several well wishes from colleagues in the United States on my "fancy and expensive" Blackberry.....e-cards....phone calls on the same Blackberry from those who I work with... "confiscated" by Linda who has insisted that I do something other than work on my "special" day.....

I am so grateful......for everything that God has given me.....my 49th Birthday wish is for those less fortunate in our world...........be thankful for what God has blessed you with and be humble, helpful and generous to those in the world less fortunate.

Happy Birthday!

4 comments:

DelhiBound said...

Happy Birthday.

I've missed your writing ...

There really aren't words to even say in a comment to your post. It's the stark reality of living here ... of being an adopted resident for a time being ... we have so much. So often we are ALL caught up in our own woes ... that too many times we miss the harshness of reality around us.

As we drove home tonight from an event, I was horrified to realize when I looked up from emailing on MY expensive phone, that we were driving through the slum near our house. Nothing out of the ordinary, but then I realized that everyone was staring intently at our car. My kids were watching their dvd player and because it was dark, the glow of the screen could be seen all throughout the slum. How pitiful and spoiled rotten we all are ...

You're right - many of the things we see here can never adequately be captured on film, nor should they. What is etched on our individual minds should be enough to cause us ... force us ... to do SOMEthing.

Anway, I digress ... but thank you for sharing.

marie brice said...

Great post - so poignant and so very India. It has the ability to throw you from joy to soul-searching in a nanosecond!
I remember cursing the fog and the freezing cold in Delhi only to turn and see a child begging next to me hopping from purple bare foot to purple bare foot in the thinest dress I have ever seen.
Living in Mumbai meant less temperature extremes than Delhi - but we still had those amazing monsoons! Thanks for the photos too!

a reason to write said...

humbling isn't it - how one can be so blessed and one cannot be - it's hard to accept

Sarang Date said...

Happy Birthday... happened to visit your posts.. this one was so much familiar to me being an Indian... However I am afraid you will encounter many more such moments. Where there is white, there is black, there is light, there is dark, there is plus, there is minus... It's gods own balancing act... Sad but true...