Usually I make sturdy, functional work from a brown stoneware. Recently I’ve been throwing more delicate pieces from porcelain in preparation for a brief crystalline glazing apprenticeship that I’ll be doing in the fall. These are three of the first ones that I’ve been satisfied with.
So, my trip to India is over. I wanted to blog regularly while I was in India, and I believe that I achieved that goal (mostly). As for whether I will continue blogging now that I’m home, I’m not sure. I enjoyed blogging a lot, but life is crazy. My prediction is that I will continue blogging, but not as frequently as I was while in India.
Feel free to check back for updates about my regular life. There will probably be lots of talk about pots. Thanks for reading!
Our flights home technically left on May 3rd, but they both left a little after midnight on May 3rd. We spent May second resting and packing up, and at about eight thirty pm we left Dola’s house and headed to the airport via the metro. When we arrived at the airport and tried to enter, we were stopped by a guard with a really big gun.
"Where’s your ticket printout?" he demanded.
We explained very nicely that we had e-tickets and that we needed to enter the airport in order to receive our boarding passes. At this point we were still in relatively good moods and possessed a modicum of faith in humanity. The guard at gate five told us that if we had e-tickets, we needed to go to gate seven. Let me just remind you that we were carrying really large packs.
We walked to gate seven where we were stopped by a guard with a really big gun.
"Where’s your ticket printout?"
We went through the rigmarole again, and he said sorry, you need to go past gate eight, go inside, get a ticket printout, then come back and talk to me.
We walked past gate eight, walked inside, and went to the desk that said ‘ticket printouts- Rs. 30’. Their internet was down. Sorry, can’t help you. Blake waited to see if they could get it fixed while I walked to the visitor services desk and explained the situation to the girls working there. One of them listened to me in silence, texted someone on her phone, and conferred with her partner in Hindi. After several minutes they turned back to me and said ‘Okay ma’am, the Air France staff will be right over’.
I took a deep breath.
"But neither of us are flying Air France."
I explained that we were flying American and Jet Airways. Oh, they said. For American you need to come talk to us. For Jet Airways you need to go down to the identical desk located beyond gate #1.
If you hadn’t already guessed, gate number one was not close to gate number eight. I smiled through gritted teeth, fetched Blake, and then I headed down to gate number one while he came to talk to the gate 8 people.
At gate number one I approached the identical visitor’s services desk. The guy there said he couldn’t help me and that I needed to go talk to the people at the window which was thankfully very nearby because otherwise I was going to reach across his desk and headbutt him. I walked to the window. There were six people in front of me, but I finally made it to the window and got my ‘printout’, which, after all the bullshit surrounding it, I expected to be something secure or impressive or printed on special paper or SOMETHING. It was a white piece of printer paper that said ‘Untitled’ on top and then listed my name and flights. I could have faked this document in, like, 20 seconds, but I tried not to think about it as I presented it to the guard with the large gun who looked at it approvingly and allowed me the privilege of ENTERING THE AIRPORT. I walked to the other side where I had last seen Blake. I saw him through the glass in the same spot where I had left him, gesticulating at the two girls who had tried to summon the Air France staff for me. I walked back to the door so that I could go find him but now the guard with the giant gun wouldn’t let me leave. I was in the midst of trying to charm him when Blake walked through the door. Hoorah.
After that we each walked to our individual check in line. I waited in the pre-line and then finally had the privilege of waiting in the actual line before I received my boarding passes. After that we made it through security and spent our last few rupees on water, chocolate, and a newspaper.
We walked to Blake’s gate and shared a chocolate bar before I saw him off. I was a little sad- I won’t see him again until mid-July- but also happy to be going home. That night I flew from Delhi to Belgium. My next flight was delayed by three hours which ended up being another logistical nightmare and I missed the following flight from Chicago to Atlanta. Luckily I got booked on another flight shortly thereafter and on that flight I finally managed to fall asleep. My parents very kindly picked me up in Atlanta (Broc was there on business so we crashed in a hotel room that just seemed excessively luxurious after being in India) and my mom and I drove back to Asheville the following day. And that is the end of that.
This morning we got up and searched in vain for an internet cafe before making our way to…McDonald’s! Hindus don’t eat beef, so there’s no beef on the menu at the McDonald’s in Chandigarh. Instead, we could choose between a veggie burger, a chicken burger, or a spicy paneer burger with a soda and fries for about $2. I opted for the veggie burger while Blake tried his luck with the spicy paneer. It was an interesting experiment that I probably wouldn’t repeat. (I haven’t eaten at a McDonald’s in the states for years, and, aside from the lack of beef, this McDonald’s wasn’t too different from any that I’ve ever been to back home.)
After our greasy detour we made our way back to the public bus station and prepared for a very unpleasant trip to Delhi. We endured the furnace and finally got into the city at about 7 pm. Once we got off the bus we took the metro to meet Dola, an Indian unschooler that Sandra Dodd had connected us with before we left. She had two young children named Ishan and Gourica who were very sweet. She made us some delicious Channa Batura and provided us with a lovely guest room to stay in. We went to bed early to try and get some rest- the next day we were heading to the airport to make our way home.
Our journey was drawing to a close. We needed to start heading back to Delhi from Manali, so we decided to hop on a public bus to Chandigarh. The ride was 10 hours long, so we got up at about six and starting packing. We were on our bus by seven thirty, and we settled in for the long ride. Everything was groovy for about three hours, until the sun got high in the sky and we got farther south down the road. Then it started to get HOT. Public buses are un-airconditioned, so there was no real respite from the heat.
We finally arrived at our destination about ten and a half hours after our departure, having managed to travel an impressive 180 miles. We were hot, cranky, and dirty, but we checked into a hotel, showered up, and headed back out into the heat in search of some grub.
We found some really delicious Coconut Ravi Masala Dosas with a coconut chutney sauce, and then afterward we strolled around a shopping area and tracked down some amazing soft serve chocolate ice cream. Yum! We went back to our hotel and fell asleep quickly- we had another long bus ride awaiting us the following day.
By now I’m home safe and sound! I wasn’t able to blog during the last few days of my trip because Blake’s Ipad crashed, but I took some notes and I’m going to try to fill in the important details.
This morning we got up and met our taxi driver outside at 10 am. His name was Juswan (that’s my phonetic interpretation- not how his name was actually spelled) and we had hired him for the day to drive us around. He took us to the ‘snow point’ where there were hundreds of little roadside stands renting what seemed to us to be completely unnecessary snow gear. When we inquired about these, Juswan explained that Indians liked to jump and slide and roll in the snow- regardless of the fact that there was actually very little snow at the ‘snow point’. Some of them were even renting skis, which seemed REALLY unnecessary. Once we arrived, we found a long line of taxis similar to ours parked and waiting for their passengers. Juswan said he would wait for us, and we took off walking over the hills. I have some pictures that are gorgeous but not currently in my possession, and I’ll post them later.
While everything was gorgeous, it was also really trashed. There seems to be trash EVERYWHERE in India, and I saw many people just throwing garbage on the ground or out of their car windows while driving. It’s sad and gross, and I feel like there are a couple of reasons for it. First, I think that there’s not an adequate system for trash removal in most of India, and when there is, I think it usually costs money that people don’t have. Secondly, there don’t seem to be any consequences (like fines) for littering, and there also doesn’t seem to be any public awareness campaign about the importance of not littering. Finally, there seems to be apathy regarding the situation- everything is already so trashed, and there are so many larger problems, that the issue is at the bottom of the totem pole. That’s all guesswork- all I really know is that the stream beds where we were walking that day were littered with cardboard boxes, lay’s potato chip bags, and other trash.
When we were done walking around we headed back to the car and Juswan took us to Solang, which was paraglider city! We watched the paragliders come down for a while and I bought some cotton candy while I contemplated ‘zorbing’- rolling down a hill encased in a giant plastic ball. I ultimately decided that I had vomited enough already on this trip.
I’ve been quite negligent in updating my blog for the past few days- I promised pictures and until now they have not been forthcoming, for which I apologize. But fear not, dear reader. You have not missed much.
Basically, Blake came down with some awful bug that mimicked the flu but could have also been from bad food. He ran a high fever for two days during which time I brought him Gatorade and crackers, obsessively felt his forehead, and spent far too much time hovering nearby and asking him annoying questions. Did he think he could eat something? Should I turn off the overhead light? Did he want another blanket? We also spent countless hours watching James Bond movies (Die Another Day, the Spy Who Loved Me), National Treasure, Alice in Wonderland, and back episodes of Dexter, the Simpsons, and Las Vegas.
He looked like crap:
and I started to get really worried when I tried to tempt him to eat by buying him a Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bar and he refused to touch it. Those of you who know Blake will know that he does NOT turn down chocolate.
Fortunately, on day three his fever was gone and he was feeling better, so we took an auto into central Manali and did a little bit of exploring. Today we went over to Vashist to visit the ‘hot springs’ (My comment when we arrived was ‘that was a long way to travel to visit three faucets’.) but on the way we ran into this guy:
He had a couple of baskets on the ground that happened to be filled with…snakes! Big scary ones. It’s okay mom, the cobra was de-venomized.
I have a photograph of me clinging to my mom when I was about four and making this exact same face while my grandpa wrapped a constrictor around his neck in Miami. This one’s for you, Harry Batchelor.
Here are some pictures of the splendor of Manali, as promised: