India 1999

Sept 14, 1999 

Hello Everyone, 

      India...well the running joke is “Eyh, it’s like a monsoon out there!”  Yes, it actually is a monsoon out here!  I am soaked even as I write.  I’ve been doing a lot, including Indian classical voice lessons four times a week.  I’m progressing well, and enjoying being exposed to Eastern music, which bears many similarities to jazz, I’m finding.  Not necessarily in sound, but in form and intention.   

    We’ve had many adventures so far, and anticipate many more.  Performing five nights a week is fun, and I’m getting to play piano too with the group.  My (very glamorous) photo and a little write up were in the Times of India, yesterday, and someone called me for an interview for a health and fitness magazine this morning!  And Saturday night we were invited to a party of Bombay’s elite, where we got quite a lot of attention by virtue of being American and musicians, so I’m feeling a bit like a minor star, and enjoying a good little laugh to myself because of it!   

    The party was a lot of fun.  It was in a beautiful penthouse flat with a huge patio facing the Arabian Sea, and it was catered with chinese food and had an open bar.  I sang a few songs with the hired keyboard player who was playing lots of songs like Besamé Mucho, and had lots of chest hair and a gold chain with music notes on it.  We met a cute little actress who’s on lots of Indian TV shows, and a few film producer types.  We were invited to the very fashionable Breech Candy Beach Club to spend the afternoon with some of these folks on Sunday, but the monsoon rained us out.   

    Speaking of adventures, the roads in Mumbai are like an adventure in themselves.  Everyone has either torn off or pushed in their side view mirrors, because that’s how close the cars come to one another!  I’ve taken to reading in the the taxis so I can’t watch as my life so many times nears its finish.   

    Last night, we went to a concert.  A tabla player we met who is like a jazz nerd, only in Indian Classical music, invited us to this concert that he was giving with another percussionist.  It was for the opening celebration of this 10 day long festival for Ganesh, the Elephant God of Hinduism who is responsible for good luck and happiness and other positive things, and was about two hours out into the suburbs, so we got to see some very different parts of outlying Mubaim so of which reind me very much of Florida.  This festival started about 50 years ago to rally the people of India who were trying to gain independence fron England.  Groups of people make shrines and buy an idol of Ganesh anywhere from a few inches to 30 feet tall, which they install in the shrine.  The shrines are everywhere in Mubai, in co-op quads, in slums, in factory parking lots, everywhere.  They make the city look a little like Disney World!  Christmas lights all around, and alleyways leading up to the shrines are made of partition walls and decorated.  They look a little like film sets.  In a few days, people will start bringin their idols of Ganesh down to the water (river, sea or ocean) to immerse them.  (What the fish must think with all those elephants suddenly surrounding them!)  




Oct 1, 1999 

Hey Kids! 

    What do you know!  October already, and I’m still in Indai!  Sometimes, Jim and I look at each other and say, “Hey...we’re in India.” It never ceases to amaze us.   

    Things at our lovely luxury hotel are good, they switched our room to the 10th floor which is occupied by staff and is under construction, but they were able to give us a seaside view, and they changed some furniture in our room to suit us, so it looks like it will be just as nice as our old room.  The Bayview Bar gig is going well, and I’m playing and practicing a lot and memorizing tunes with more ease than ever before, so that’s exciting.  Yesterday we added to the tune list.  We started with “set A” of about 40 tunes which we have been playing all month, and yesterday Georgie, the band leader made copies of my music book and now we have a “set B” of about 60 tunes.  Singing some of those songs, “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Invitation.” “Love for Sale,” It was like visiting old friends.  Doing the same 40 songs in rotation for a month was good, we did them all kinds of different ways, but it really was nice to play some new tunes.   

     Before our gig last night, we went to a fashion show in the Oberoi.  It was very glamorous.  I’d never been to one before, but it was very much like I expected it would be.  The clothing line was from a designer in Goa, the former Portugese territory just up the coast from Bumbay.  He was trying to capture the soft waves of the ocean with the cool sand of the beach, or something...Some of the outfits were fairly silly, but others were really lovely, very flowy, as you might imagine a beach line might look.   

    I’m very proud of myself that I’ve been keeping a good travel journal, plus taking lots of pictures, so I can keep everyone well informed.  We’ve had lots of little episodes, some are just strange and others build for us a picture of what India is like, who the Indian people Are.  I thought I’d share some episodes from my journal with you.  They’ll start out as journal entries, but turn into something more akin to a letter as we go.   

    ...9-18  So we were coming home from a hard nights work at the Bayview Bar and when we got in the elevator, I looked at Jim and said “There’s no elevator music” (usually there is very annoying loud muzak playing) The doors of our elevator opened up on the pool level, and by some comic design, two mariachies got on the elevator and began playing and singing. It was zany!   

    We rode up harmonizing “Canta No Llores” and one of the mariachies pressed all the buttons in the elevator.  We rode all the way up and down to their floor and went to their room and played and sang somemore.  All the while I was trying to understand all he was telling me in Sapnish.  It’s been a while!  Those mariachies are our new neighbors on the 10th floor.  They’re here for nine months working for the mexican restaurant in the hotel.   

    ...Yesterday we went to Chowpatti Beach to see the immersions of the Ganesh idols into the sea.  I got my little camera out and Jim and I split up and went on a picture taking expedition.  What a paradigm shift I had about the camera!  When I started out, I felt so shy and invasive, I wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible.  I didn’t want to be exploitative.  But everyone was so happy to get their pictures taken.  They were begging me to take it!  I got a bunch of group shots.  I’d say 1,2...3 and everyone would go wild.  Everywhere I went, crowds of people would gather around me, they wanted to know about me, where was I from, how long here, did I like Bombay?  The first time this happened, I was so shocked, I didn’t know how to respond. I told them where I was from and why I was here, and I ended up doing a mini concert.  One aria and a jazz song.  The whole scene was a scene!  I couldn’t remember the song I was learning in my Indian music lessons, but I sang a few licks to show them I was learning.  They were very respectful and excited and they applauded after each song.  I moved on finally, but circles like this kept coming around me.  I didn’t sing again, but just being in the middle of so many people, it was really weird, but I wasn’t scared.   

    I wanted to get some pictures of people bringing their idols to the water.  I would try to inconspicuously take a shot, but the people would spot me and move aside and pose a great shot for me.  I don’t understand it. Nobody is going to see these pictures except my friends and family, but they were treating it as if they were on the Today Show.  Or maybe they have the deep unconscious understanding that a picture makes things real.  That recording history that way is so permanent and concrete?  Anyway, there I was thinking I was being invasive, and it turns out I’m giving people a gift.  

    A few days later, we were walking home from the train station, and we ran into a beggar family that we see fairly often who we usually have hotel fruit for.  We had nothing, but I did have my camera, so I had them pose for a picture, and explained that I would bring it back for them.  They were so happy.  The mother preened her children’s hair and got the family all together.  The picture came out nicely, but I haven’t seen them in a few days since I’ve been mostly by the hotel only.  I can’t wait to give it to them.   

    About a week after we went to Chowpatti Beach that day with our cameras, was the big immersion day.  The festival is about 12 days long, and you can immerse your idol any day that is an odd numbered day, but 5 and 11 are the big days.  On the last day, all the really big idols come down.  They look like floats from a parade, they were enormous.  On the walk there, we saw a man making drawings in the samd of Ganesh and some of the other gods.  They were very detailed and beautiful.  I also saw an idol carved in the stone of some steps that led down to the beach.  It too was beautiful, and took me by surprise.  It was so busy down by the beach and once we got into the thick of the crowd, I felt very afraid.  First let me say that I’ve never been in a crowd of that magnitude, and second it was almost all male, and it was the late side of dusk.  People were pushing in every direction, and I started trying to get out as soon as we got in.  It took us about 20 minutes to get out of the main crowded area.  Police were beating people back who tried to get out going the wrong direction.  People were touching me, and everyone was trying to sell us stuff, we were in survival mode. 

    When we finally got out, we were slightly traumatized, and very late for work.  We took the first cab back that we could find, and tried to take lots of deep breaths.  Even before we left I felt like we shouldn’t go, but I didn’t want to woos out.  When else will I be in Bumbay during the Ganpati Festival?  Sometimes I see travelers and I wish I could have a better attitude.  I wish I wasn’t so sensitive or shy (yes I am shy sometimes) But was more of a tough and friendly traveler, maybe more settled into who I am to be able to better see who other people are?  I just couldn’t help wondering what our role in that night was?  What could we have done to turn it around?  To make it a remarkable experience instead of something that just made us feel claustrophobic and in a bad mood?  Part of it is the whole thing of everyone wanting us to buy stuff from them, or give to them.  Everyone in this city has a side job.  The man we met on the train wanted to sell us wild honey he was going to collect, every cab driver you ride with wants to take you on the best tour of Bombay ever.  Even people we meet in the Bar are looking for us to hook them up with people in their business in the US. The tailor at Raymonds who made Jim’s suit brought us embroidery samples because he wants us to help him get connections.  Who do we know?   

    Oh well.  It’s just tiring and wearing on us how everyone wants something from us.   

    ...In the cab today, a boy came to the window to beg.  I gave him my last chickaroo (a very delicious fruit that looks like a kiwi and tastes like a fig).  I handed it to him and he literally jumped up and down with glee and ran away.  We laughed and laughed, what a beautiful expression of joy, reminding us not to take anything for granted. 

    Saturday night, the piano player from the lobby, Sunil, took us to a western style night club called 3 Flights Up.  It was just like any nightclub in any college town back home.  The music was good for a while, but they started playing a medley from Grease, so we left. It was difficult to leave without insulting Sunil and his very nice friends, but we really wanted to leave.   

    We were all dancing, and as we danced, I noticed that the other girls we were with would sometimes imitate me.  I do that usually with other people when I’m out dancing.  But I was thinking, I hope these girls don’t imitate me thinking I’ve got the cool American moves, because the way I dance is really strange I think, and certainly not typical.  I hope I didn’t mislead them. They’re much cooler dancers than I am. 

         ...9-5...What an evening.  Spent time at the sitar gurushi’s house.  His home was beautiful and filled with peace.  Being in his presence made me feel pure and good and honest.  It feels goo to know that when I am faced with myself, and in the presence of holiness, I feel my true self to be  joyful and childlike, not shying away, or dishonest or jaded.  He asked us a lot of questions and told us a lot about himself.  All the while, one of his disciples was massaging his feet and legs.  That took some time to get used to. His daughter (who is a very fine Indian singer) was being broadcast on the radio, so we listened while he told us about Indian music. He talked about learning deep, and learning wide, vertical and horizontal. Westerners are plagued by horizontal learning. He wants his students to go deeper when they face a limitation instead of countering it by going wide. Beautiful night. 

    I thought gurus were only teachers of spiritual practices, but almost everyone here has a gurushi.  Dance gurus, music gurus, spiruitual gurus, all are the same.  learning dance or music is just a practice, like meditation, or yoga. All is ultimately for the betterment of the soul. Different than I thought, and a good way for artists to look at their work as artists, and its reasons.   

    ...9-18... Dhanashree’s (my voice teacher) father had a puja at their ganesh shrine upstairs in their apartment building on the sea.  There was a Brahmin there who was chanting and chanting and ringing a bell. We sprinkled and bowed and got tilak’s (red dots symoblizing the third eye of inner vision), held a flaming pan in a circle around the shrine.  All the while, Danashree (who is agnostic and hates all this superstition) was narrating for us as if to say, isn’t this quaint.  

    9-21...Sunday morning I went to church, early 8:45 service at St. Thomas Anglican Cathedral.  It was rather poorly attended for such a big church.  It’s very beautiful. The liturgy was similar to St. Paul’s at home, reminding me that we are a body, a communion joined across oceans. That was really neat feeling. I didn’t catch on quick enough to follow along, and no one helped me either. The songs were all different and the hymnal was words only. The altar was really set back, and far away, I could have used a pair of binoculars. Also I couldn’t understand a lot of what was said because the tinny sound system and the Indian accents. When we went up to the altar for communion, I felt like I wished we could have just had church right up there. It was lovely and warm feeling.  Or they could move the altar down closer to twhere the people sit, like at St. Paul’s. I think that’s so important. When I go to a concert, if my seats are too far from the stage, I feel like I’m not even really there. If I’ve got good seats, there’s no way I can pretend to be somewhere else, or to not be involved. 

    Anyway, the church really irked me for another reason. We were all outside having coffee out of little china teacups with saucers, when it started pouring. A blind man was out in the rain, and rather than helping him, people were pushing him around. There he was with hot coffee in his hands trying not to spill it, and trying to find the awning to get under. It was too weird. I grabbed his free arm and led him under. He’s a member of that congregation for 32 years. Even after he was under the awning, no one talked to him, no one said hello, nothing. Yes it’s true, no one knows a family exept a family and maybe there’s something I don’t know about this guy, but it reminded me of one Wednesday night at St. Paul’s A woman walked in who had tattoos all over her shaved head and her neck. She was cross dressed and generally very very strange in appearance. We had already begun service I think, and she walked up a little shyly. Rev. Tracey brought her in and said something like, wow you’ve got some tattoos there girl! Everyone laughed and there it was out in the open. Even the li’l ole ladies felt a little more like they could breathe after that. Acceptance. Isn’t that like a big part of what it’s all about? Well anyway, Herbert (the blind dude) told me about another Anglican church nearby, so maybe I’ll try that one next week.  

    ...Yesterday we visited Savio (the guitar player in the band) for his birthday party. We met his family and had dinner with them. There was such a clear social structure. Patriarchal and family/child centered. Savio’s mother was asking me all about my plans for a family (of which I have none, except maybe vague sketches) and she said “it just isn’t a family unless you have a child.” One of her daughters is seeing a specialist to try and have a baby. I don’t mean to be ethnocentric, but they were completely ignorant of the population crisis. One sixth of the world’s population is Indian. Like India really needs more people! I disagreed with her statement about children, but she persisted with an arrogant, “you’ll see” type of attitude. 

    It was good for us to go to someone home and see how they live. Their family is Catholic for a few generations (I’ve met many Catholics) and I can see the differences in Indian Catholicism, and the differences in Indians who are Catholics.  

    8-29...I’ll begin with our journey to Matheran. Matheran was a trip and then some. We got attacked by coolies wanting to carry our bags and rickshaw drivers wanting to ride us up the hill and all we wanted was to be left alone. Matheran is a hill station, like a weekend getaway place which reminds me a little of the catskills, Indian style. I realize how American I am when people try to offer me their services like that. “No, I can do it myself.” The whole American ingenuity and independence thing. But here, the economy is firmly rested on the idea of people serving and being served. The walk was nice, except for the piles of horse dung, and the groups of screaming men carrying carts filled with bricks uphill, truly a nightmareish scene from Hades. We finally reached the town center and saw the hotel that was recommended to us. We sat down on the porch and were so tired and hungry. “Sit, set down your bags.” Said the genial Mr. Lord. So we sat, and he clapped his hands (a leftover from colonialism) and a servant arrived to show us some rooms. We decided that room 12 had a certain charm and the view was breathtaking. We decided after not much discussion that we would take it. He said we could come down for lunch and we did. It was ok. He asked us, “do you have a camera?”  “You should bring it down with you to take a picture of the spread at dinner. Better than any 5 star hotel.”  

    That guy was Out!  A real character! I laid down after lunch for a long nap in the damp sheets of the dank room with a tin roof. “Thump, bang thump” What was that!? “Thump thud” ...it was monkeys jumping on our roof. We mistakenly took a room under a tree.  I went to take a shower in the dirty bathroom, but there was no hot water. Jim got bit by a super ant twice, and I was feeling very sick, like catching a cold from the dampness. 

    After my nap we went for a walk and checked out some of the other hotels. For almost half the price we could have gotten a room at a 3 star resort with a pool and ra real roof, and a pool table too! It was so much nicer and cleaner. We were outraged and feeling totally Taken! We told Mr. Lord that we wanted to negotiate the price and he said he would after dinner. “Uncle is very flexible” said his nephew (who had seen my picture in the paper, yes stardom is feeling lovely) We felt relieved and went to dinner feeling much lighter.  

    Flexible was not the word. We finished our dinner which was nothing more than a modest not too tasty home cooked meal, and went to talk with him. He wouldn’t budge. He said if we felt we could do better somewhere else we should go there tomorrow night, but if we wouldn’t stay two nights he wouldn’t negotiate at all. Leave tomorrow and go away happy he said, the whole time slightly laughing at us. What could we do? We thought about just leaving and leavig him some money for the meals and room for our nap, but that’s not really right. Instead, we decided to get a letter from Danashree’s father who recommended the hotel, and who is very rich and owns a house in Matheran (there are only like 10 private houses up there, it’s very exclusive) to write a letter to the lonely planet guide which recommends his hotel too, and send him a copy. We were trying to tell him what a dive his place was and he said “Do you know a man named Jimmy Carter?, Well he and his wife stayed here and she wrote to good housekkeping and there’s a letter from her about how much she loved this hotel.” (That was probably 25 years ago) You can tell the place used to be nice. Maybe one of the nicest hotels up there, but now Mr. Lord is really old and quite off about his percptions of reality. And he must know he’s taking advantage of his customers which makes him a bit of a scoundrel to boot.  What a strange encounter. Jim and I sat up and talked on our porch til late in the night all about the place, and our travels. It turned out to be a nice weekend even with the monkeys on the roof. And definitely gained some travel savvy from this experience. We went for a hike the next day and it was nice. We saw lots of monkeys, but there was trash, litter everywhere, so that madie it a little weird. I no longer take our beautiful American parks for granted.  

    Wow, well that’s it from my journal. I don’t think I’ll write like that again from it, it took way too long and was probably more than anyone wanted to know. I’ll try not to wait so long inbetween letters, that way it will be easier to organzie my thoughts.  

Peace everyone, 
Alexis 

 

Later in the trip

Hello friends, 

    It’s been a while since my last letter, and as a matter of fact, this will probably be my last letter from India, at least this trip. Jim and I have 5 days leftat the Oberoi, and then on Saturday night we’ll take a midnight train to Varanasi, then to Bodgaya dn sidarth- two Buddhist pilgramage points, and then move on to Agra and Jaipur and then a few days in Rajestan, and out to Jaiselmar, a really old fort town.  Jim was basically our travel agent, spending long hours staring at the train schedule book trying to get us across India in 9 days. It may have allbeen in vain though, since we weren’t able to buy our tickets in advance, since we have to wait until the day before in order to get tourist quota tickets. We did houwever , buy our plant tikets backfrom Jodhpur. We fly into Bombay at 9:30, come back to the Oberoi to pick up our suitcases, and then go right back to the airport for a 1:40am flight to Amsterdam Never a dull moment! 

    We got a good taste for travel last weeend when we took our first real trip in India. We went to Goa, the old Portugese colony, about 12 hours south of Bombay. We got off work an hour early and busted a move over to Victoria Terminus to catch our overnight train. We rode 2A class, which is a 2 tier air conditioned sleeper. We were roomed with two girls from Australia who have been traveling on and off for about a year and a half. They shared some reflections and stories from their week in India so far, they didn’t seem to like it here too much. But were here maybe more for the experience. I think travel affects you whether you intend for it to or not. We listened to Tracy Chapman on their portable stereo with speakers and then went to sleep. It was freezing and the ZC was blowing right on me. I was sure I was going to wake up with a cold. Jim got up at 6am to see some of the countryside. I went back to sleep after seeing a little of the sunrise. I got up around 8am and we at up togehter and watched the scenery. It was beautiful. So green and unpopulated in comparison to Mumbai. We met some other travelers from Canada, a couple who had just left their Yuppy jobs and decided to take a one year world tour. They had a friend who just moved to Hobokken and it seemed to me that they would have liked it very much there too. We detrained at 10am together with the Australian girls, and the Canadian couple. We got a cab with the couple and headed for Vagator Beach, which the tour book heralded as the most beautiful and least tourist populated beach in Goa.  

    We arrived and some hotel proprietors took us to see rooms at different little hotels. we ate a lunch of samosas and masala dosas at a little beach cabana and then decided on one hotel that was very close to the beach, reasonably clean and had 24 hr water for 150RS a night (less than $4). We went down to the beach and it was beautiful. The best of California rugged coastal beauty with the warm shallow tame ocean of Florida. Jim got some pictures that are breathtaking. We played in the water, and read our books out on the sand. When we got a little too hot, we went up to a cabana just off the ocean (in the middle of nowhere, quite a walk from any roads) and had two very cold very large King Fisher beers. What a Life!!! It felt like paradise. The few people out there were playing handball or board games and just absolutely chillin. We read for a while longer while our beer buzz set in, and then we headed back to our hotel for a shower. We met up with the Canadians for a walk and dinner at a Chinese/Indian restaurant. Apparantly Goa has a very distinctive cuisine, but since we were about three weeks ahead of season, all the restaurants specializing in that were not yet open. The food was ok, and we had a few drinks which made it not matter as much. The power kept going out in the restaurant, which was outside anyway, and it made me think about Y2K, and what a nice place Vagator Beach might be to spend the new year and possible eternity. (not to worry, we are coming home!)  

    We went to the beach the next afternoon and walked out a little ways to a deserted cove which had a view of a really rocky area where the waves would crash against the hillside reminding me of pirates and shipwrecks and treasure. we sat for hours and watched the tide come in. Jim drew and sculpted a princess with an elaborate headdress, and I build a moat to keep her safe from the incoming tide. I actually saved her for about an hour, but then it got to be too much for my moat to handle, even with constant renovation. 

    We swam/climbed back and then by 4 we were checked out and on our way to Panaji, the state capitol. the cab ride was absolutely the scariest one yet in India! The driver was afraid we wouldn’t be able to cross the bridge if we got there after 5 since it was supposed to close for 2 hours for construction. We didn’t ind waiting, but apparantly he did! Jim said we used up at least two lives on that ride. 

    We wandered around Panaji for a few hours, checked into a delightful old inn, (250rs, about $6) and walked around some more, scoping out our dinner. We finally settled on an upscale Punjabi restaurant and had a delightful meal. We walked slowly back to our room and settled infor the night. We sat out on our porch and talked and read and journaled into the weehours. The porch and our room were so quaint and romantic. We couldn’t have asked for a sweeter place to spend the evening. (there was a birdcage with two fake birds. I opened up the door to their cage so they could get out if they remembered how to fly during the night.) 

    Next morning we got up early and got a bus to Old Goa, a town filled with churches from the 1500’s-1700’s. They were grand and very big, and of course all Catholic. Spiritually, it didn’t do much for me. I don’t feel much kinship with the Church of that time. I’m not much of a historical scholar, but I know that church and government were closely related, and the missionary practices of the time are difficult to understand in these times. 

    It seems we missed the main attraction though, which is the uncorrupted body of St. Francis Xavier. 400 years old and not decayed. Only we could go to Old Goa and miss that!  

    We got a bus back to Panaji to take a cab to the airport to get back to Bombay. There was a traffic jam while we were on the bus, so we ended up just barely making the plane. We were running out on the tarmac to the plane, I should have been waving my hat behind me as I ran, it was that cliche! But as things usually do, they worked out somehow, and we made it just on time.  

    What a great trip! We packed light, only our little daypacks, and had everything we needed and then some. It really whet our appetite for travel, and we’re really looking forward to our trip next week. Keep us in your prayers! 

Love, 
alexis 


 

Nov 11, 1999 

    Hey Kids! 

    Well, 10 days of backpacking in India was a wild ride! 

    I’ve written all the details in my journal and plan to write all about it from home when we return next week. We visited Varanase, Agra,Bodgaya, Sarnath, Jaipur, Jhodpur and Jaislemar. Dwali began two days before our trip ended and it was wild with fire crackers and fire works. Highlights of our trip were seeing the Taj Mahal, walking through the catacomb streets of Varanase, and seeing sunrise there with all the Hindus bathing in the Ganges, buying semi precious stones in Jaipur, the semiprecious capital of the world, an overnight camel safari from Jaiselmar into the desert, seeing the Buddhist pilgramage points of Bodgaya and Sarnath, and the many temples and lots of young cute Tibetan monks wandering about, and seeing sunrise and having breakfast on the roof in both Jaipur, the pink city, and Jhodpur, the blue city. Most of the pictures I took are on Seattle film works film, which gets developed and sent to me in my email, so I’ll mail some of the good ones to you all when I get them in a few weeks.   

    We arrived in Amsterdam, a day late, due to a missed connection due to a cancellation of our Indian Airlines flight from Jhodpur to Mumbai. Our bed and breakfast barge is very cute, and the manager has lived all over the world working for NY Times and playing lounge piano. We saw all the hash bars, and the red light district, and it’s making me realize how puritanical and prude I am1 I feel so embarrassed and squeamish. I think I’ll be facing that a lot this week.   

    I’ve reached my limit in a strange way, and allowed my temper to flow over at the slightest aggravation. While still in India, I cursed out two different people, literally screaming in their face. And now that I’ve done that, I feel like I’ve broken some kind of barrier, and I can say anything to anyone. I don’t think that’s good or productive for a relationship with the world, so I’m going to try to get my manners and temper back under control. Jim freaked out too a few times, and he’s a former deadhead! So that makes me blame India and being a tourist there, more than just a random decline in morals and self control. we sure had a hard time with the endless interactions of people wanting things from us, to take us to a hotel, ride us in their rickshaws, toake us to a craft store, let them be our guide, give them 10 ruppes baksheesh for everything, shake their hand, be in their pictures, tell them our names and countries, change money for them, there was almost no one who didn’t have some motive in talking to us. Ad many times, they wouldn’t leave us alone until we yelled at them or got totally in their face. They would follow us for 10 mintues. We really had no choice many times but to be forceful to the edge of violence. I do however recall the many times where after totally reeming someone, we were able to look at them and smile and laugh, and they would smile back, and finally leave, and there would be no hard feelings. Well, my half hour is up. I love you all so much and apologize for going so long without writing. I promise a blow by blow of the India trip when we get home next week.  

Much love, 

Alexis 
 

 

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