Between cows, motorbikes, and rice fields

Luckily I have no jet-lag, because we arrived late Friday night, and were whisked off early Saturday morning on a road-trip. I woke up early for my morning coffee, along with some breakfast (oatmeal and papaya). Pleasant surprise (#1) — the coffee here is very good. I was so excited I even forgot to try the Chai Masala, which I planned to adopt as my new source of fuel.

We drove through villages in two mini vans, which oddly enough carried large signs that said ‘Tourists’. I guess this is a big deal in Bhopal — very few foreigners come here.

Now let’s talk traffic in India. I think the cows have the right of way, then motorbikes, then tuk-tuks, then cars, and last pedestrians. I don’t think pedestrians have any rights at all — generally they are expected to hop off the road when any vehicle (or cow) goes by. There are few sidewalks, so it’s a wonder that they escape.

Still, I find the sights on the road fascinating, and quite fun. There is so much to look at and marvel at— making long trips feel short. And I keep trying to reconcile how incessant honking and crazy driving can be part of the same culture that teaches us how to slow time, and be calm and in the moment. I am starting to think that contradictions are there to help us see more clearly — they bring into focus the good out of the chaos.

Our first stop was at the Sanchi Stupas, the old Buddhist temples of Madhya Pradesh. These Buddhist monuments were built in the 3rd century BCE at the time of Emperor Ashoka. Beautiful and intricate, the place has a serene feeling — as you might expect at a Buddhist site. Also, I saw some wild peacocks, though they were a bit too far to photograph. For me wildlife, and birds especially, are as wonderful to see as historical monuments. (Though these peacocks make sounds like the cats of Tel Aviv — you are probably not going to believe me…)

My Team :)

We also visited caves from the 5th century AD with carvings of Hindu Gods, called the Udayagiri caves. Vishnu is featured impressively in his incarnation as a man boar Varaha. I really want to learn more about Hinduism — I’ve only really read parts of the Bhagavad Gita in college.

Other highlights of the weekend were some team building activities, and shopping for Indian style clothes. I got my first tunic, which I can’t wait to wear to work — it definitely took me some time to find my Indian style. I guess that means I am ready for some Bollywood dancing also, as a colleague reminded me. Should be an easy transition from ballet :) (here’s hoping)

That was my weekend. Work started today. Shall post soon. Namaste.