NYC>Delhi

Farewell from the flight Goddess of JFK airport

Early Monday 

I write this while nestling into my small room here at the Abracadabra guest house, tucked behind the Janpath Tibetan markets near Connaught Circus in downtown Delhi. It’s just past four twenty in the morning, and the jetlag has begun. The long flight direct from New York via a cramped middle seat on Air India finally ended, after offering me aerial glimpses of the mountains and deserts of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Landing, phone charging and gear acquisition all went smooth, and after dropping my gear off at my guest house I hit the streets just at sunset for a quick hello.

Was very happy to see on the street some of my old friends among the banjara ladies, still holding court; I will visit more later during daylight hours. Ended up talking with a Kashmiri guy and going back to his house to drink tea and look at shawls; I met his wife Fatima and young daughters (Arvina, 8 and Sabrina, 5) who were doing homework and quickly invited me to draw pictures with them. After tea Manzoor’s neighbor the Kashmiri shawl wala showed me some truly incredible hand embroidered woolen shawls, including one that was so gorgeously done I was tempted to buy it for myself. The asking price of 85,000 rupees (or approximately $1800 US) steered me clear. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to take a photo of it later; it was a real beauty.

One fresh anar (pomegranate) juice and a thali plate at Saravana Bhavan later, I wandered back to Abracadabra and swiftly unwound into a dream state.  Someone rang my mobile around 1 or 2 and I ended up being awake for the last hours. Spent some time reviewing and updating all the spreadsheets I use to track my buying, my expenses, my whole economic life over here. I imagine tomorrow will be slightly lazy, but I expect to hit the ground running and try and get all the balls rolling here in Delhi by the end of this week.

This year I have a fantasy, seemingly even more grounded in reality than every year’s phantasm, that I may be able to complete all my work within several weeks, and have a couple weeks left over to travel a bit to unseen realms and melt away into village devotional Indian life for a while.  So motivation is high to work diligently and efficiently! Of course, working efficiently in India is definitionally oxymoronic, but at least I can tilt at the windmill…

5:35 a.m., and the city begins to stir. Droning, muffled chants echo through distant streets, the ongoing Doppler of traffic starting up along the offices, craft emporia and high-end hotels of Janpath Avenue.   Maybe if I can sleep some more now, I’ll wake up on a local time schedule…