Old Entries from ult's walkabout
emerging from baggage claim through a gauntlet of Indians bearing signs, faces uncountable dark eyes bright teeth senses heightened James's face Tashi Delek Rabten, Tashi Delek James our taxi driver is taking a nap I'm back in Delhi! I sit in front where I normally drive this is a good intro to India as we straddle lanes diving between Tata trucks and auto-rickshaws I look idly at my seatbelt, or rather the frayed strap buckleless hanging uselessly from the frame No problem the turbaned driver reassures me.
far from axhausted I ask James questions the answers spill out as if he'd talked to no-one in years his McLeod projects, his McLeod people, computers and Tibetans, teaching, learning how to teach, how to give space for learning. I tell my stories too about learning how not to travel, sharing seeds of ideas about manifesting dreams, developing relationships, attitudes and politics we understand each other too well. Rabten falls out, perhaps his English doesn't go that fast, but most native speakers I know would glaze over anyway at these topics the hotel room is decadent by my previous standards marble floor television phone clean sheets ten dollars a night five times what I'd have paid for a grimy hole in Pahar Ganj but now I'm living large on holiday in India with a return ticket this time and no six dollar budget.
In the morning I breakfast with James at the TeeDee it's no dhaba Rabten meets us briefly then goes to do his laundry I've never seen him in monk robes, he stopped monk last year not easy for a Tibetan James and I go shopping I bargain my first rickshaw I'm back in India! I spend too much money on gifts, I hate when they agree to my price, it means I started too high oh well too late to recover but that was fun anyway, just like the old days only then I'd never allow myself to buy anything James is exhausted I hate that, if they would just leave me alone, let me look, and give me one price, I'd be happy.
We got a prepaid teaxi back to Majnu Ka Tilla away from the hassle of real India, into the Tibetan enclave of Delhi we meet Rabten in the narrow corridors between buildings. James decides we're ordering room service Rabten's friend Lobsang joins us after for conversation we all speak good pidgin about Nepali politics China Tibet westerners each other. I show them my yoyo Lobsang attempts advanced techniques James and I talk tech late.
Predawn jet lag doesn't let me sleep through the mosquito I wake and wander the peace of the morning is worth getting up for I munch a poori as I meander.
I think I've changed more than Delhi has, I tell James. Before, I always wanted things to be different -- I wanted the poverty, the noise, the dirt, the smell to go away This time I want it to be exactly the way it is.