> > > 8-month mission on "Mars": June 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Magic Carpet Ride (Part Two)

Riding from the Delhi airport to Ghaziabad provided a concise view of diverse ways of life in India. The unity of seemingly coordinated chaos was demonstrated by the togetherness on the road. Such diverse modes of transportation, bikes, small cars, work trucks, luxury cars, 'tuktuks', horses, motorcycles, each with varying threats and risk vulnerabilities on the road, weaving in turn together, without regard for what westerners would call "lanes" or distance of separation, staying within inches from one another at all angles.

Rewinding to my layover, on my way to India, as it was good preparation for my journey. I prepared in the solitude of Helsinki airport during a day-long layover. The airport in Finland was the most peaceful crowded place I've ever visited. The Finnish are respectful of independence and do not make forced conversation. I felt that without the obligation to engage in idle chit-chat, it had the feeling of a short retreat. It was a much needed retreat before joining the crowds and fast pace of life in Delhi, India. Highly recommended stopover!

Day 1 of India, arrived just in time to see the sunrise! The ride from the airport was an exhilarating experience. Bouncing along in the back seat, stop and go through the traffic. The accelerating and decelerating led my respiration in self-regulation to naturally engage in yogi fire breaths! Now I see how this place naturally gave birth to these practices that we view as yogi secrets! 


I felt that this place is another planet, Mars-like in fashion, but obviously much less harmful to human health! The dust in the air of India is mitigated by simply wearing silken fabric around your head and face, to mask your mouth and nostrils. No spacesuit required, and this reminds me of a skype interview I had recently with the artist Alex Lucas, check out her futuristic spacesuit concepts and beautiful weaving: http://www.alexandralucas.net/#/tmo-the-mars-odyssey-1/ Wearing the sari around in India actually made me feel a pleasant privacy as a result, not dissimilar from the freedom that I felt from wearing a mock spacesuit and exploring Mauna Loa. In earlier posts, I analogized it with how people sing in the shower like no one can hear them, the privacy of enclosures. 

Despite the fabric around my face, in some places the stench of open sewage lines and garbage dumps among the villages was still evident. It is most difficult for me to imagine doing the work of trash sorting, in which the trash sorters go around the city to gather garbage into their carts, then back at their village they are literally recycling by hand, going through truckloads of garbage to find reusable materials that can be sold, salvaging bits of metal, removing the coating on copper wires by hand for $2 per dayWithout running water, the water-conservation strategies used in India are exemplary and could benefit future Mars explorers and sustainable efforts in this world.

Amidst a hot and dusty environment, an experience full of color and treasure. Opposing impressions, healthy food in the richest of spiced curries, served along with the risk of water contaminates. Through humble villages, bustling markets, and five star resorts, we were getting acquainted to both hazards and luxuries in India.

Quickly we also learned that everything happens 2.5 hours behind schedule! haha not kidding, most every event that we attended began about 2.5 hours late. But we were on an 11.5-hour time differential with "home" with circadian rhythms completely out of whack it's like the time of day really didn't matter. To the point of the band Chicago, "Does anyone really know what time it is? does anyone really care?" Just let my magic carpet ride go-with-the-flow.

Day 2. What an amazing and fun engagement celebration! Home is where the heart is. Love my family and friends, and so happy to have connected to more sweet friends!


Day 3. Here's Shailesh and Snigdha, "Aladdin and Jasmine" and wow, they are true to the fairy tale! Congratulations to the beautiful couple! We had a blast celebrating with you!


Day 4. Visiting Taj Mahal.. The bus ride to Agra was a long ride without air conditioning and lacking a bit of safety precautions in the transit. Upon arrival, we were met with an intense crowd of local salesman, trying to make us buy statues of the Taj or carved elephants. We were relieved that our van and belongings were still there when we got back from the tour. 


Day 5. Going to the so-called "slums" near Delhi in a 'tuk tuk' was a much needed exploration day. After being shuttled from one event to another, it was time for my carpet to fly and see more of the surrounding world.


In these villages, I found some of the happiest people I have ever met. Despite not having some of America's must-have amenities, such as running water and reliable forms of energy generation, the psychosocial health and level of contentment that I observed there is one that is much beyond average, seemingly happier than most privileged Americans. And certainly much happier than the individuals I meet in so-called ghettos here in the US. 

They are living more sustainably as a culture, developing slowly but in a sensible way. If there is a ticking clock of living unsustainability, it's no wonder that we do not have happiness, because we actually do not have much of anything to rely on! In India, even though the sewage lines along unpaved roads require people to do the dirty job of shoveling human waste, but then again at least it's simple and working reliably, and the people have acceptance of their jobs and the satisfaction of fulfilling their responsibilities.