Saturday, April 4, 2009


I decided to postpone the mountains for a week so as not to tempt myself into further injury, so instead went to Bangalore for a week of rest and visiting friends I met on last year's mountain bike race. My last visit involved lots of running and cycling, but this time I'm fairly boring - "resting" isn't quite as glamorous and definitely not as conducive to good pictures. (See, you all want me to get better, too! ;-) I'm finally seeing some progress in healing, so will try to persevere in the resting effort. *wry grin*

So instead, more impressions of the crazy mishmash that is the cities of India:

One of my friends noted that if you wanted to bring the US to its knees you wouldn't need terrorists. Just abduct 10 Indian auto-rickshaw drivers (the ever-present three-wheeled open-air taxis) and set them loose on our roads. Then sit back and watch the crippling chaos. Just imagine trying to drive in a city full of them...

At the relatively healthy food market nearby, I can get a half-pound of red grapes, eight little Kerala bananas, four local oranges, and a miniature cantelope, all amazingly tasty, for 99 rupees, about two dollars. The same money gets you a tea at Coffee Day, trendy cafes modeled after the coffee shops I'm accustomed to at home. A muffin will be another family supply of fruit, please.

The autorickshaw driver stopped at a shop on my way back from central Bangalore this afternoon to buy oil for his vehicle's two-stroke engine. The oil-wallah filled his empty oil container from one of four juice pitchers on the counter holding different types of oil. I love that there's an everyday bypassing of the excess packaging we can't let go of in the US. On the other hand, the practicality of this arrangement is potentially offset by the likelihood that the oil is dirty, or sub-standard, contributing to the incredibly high levels of the pollution in the city.

What to do. I love many of the chaotic overtones of daily life here, their difference from the sometimes restrictive or excessive habits of the US. But I'm finally listening to my friends' observations of the negative aspects of their continuous practice. No place is perfect - I guess we just have to find the balance we're willing to put up with and keep trying to make it better...

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