Thursday, December 21, 2006

Breathe

In Mumbai, the air was almost too thick with pollution to breathe.

Relief came with silent breathing meditation on Elephata Island. I was in an ancient temple cave in front of an enormous sculpture of Shiva. His face was the most serene thing I've ever seen set to stone.

The train to Agra brought a breath of fresh air. We met Kris, a veteran of the First Gulf War with a face that showed off his years of amateur boxing. Ten years ago he started a feeding program from just one pot in Varanasi, India and soon they will finish a kitchen that will feed 5,000 four times a day. He was full of valuable local insight and said a bath in the Ganges is a must. A truly remarkable man. Ganges, here I come.

We held our breath in Mathura waiting for the men in green uniforms to haul us away. I'd asked dad to take a picture of the train full of huge tanks and military trucks. Based on the reaction of the men in the station when dad snapped the shots this was a poor choice. They argued amongst themselves and watched us carefully for an hour but we kept the camera stowed and eventually got on our train without incident.

The Taj Majal was breathtaking. It is such an beautiful and unparalleled expression of the grief of a widower. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore perfectly describes the Taj as "a teardrop on the face of eternity."

Out of breath from hauling our luggage we met a woman and her nephew at the train station leaving Agra. They were both warm and generous and made sure we got a ticket on the fully booked train. A strong, independent business woman, she is the first person we've met in India who has had full faith that we will not only live through the trip, but make it in time.

Finally we are in Delhi now and can breath easy because we've booked our flight to Kochi and will be there tomorrow. We'll check into the official hotel, meet the other teams, have a Gin and Tonic (official drink of the rickshaw run), and practice or cricket skills in preparation for the launch on the 28th.

1 comment:

sphitz said...

Fastener, Flathead, I am officially envious of your trip. It hadn't occurred to me that you would see the Taj Majal or bathe in the Ganges... How silly of me!

I'm enjoying the blog and will look forward to further updates.

Drive safely!