MIND YOUR HEAD
"Ughhh" Brian whimpered when he bumped his head on the low stone fort ceiling while descending the darkened staircase. He was behind me and couldn't hear our guide reminding us, ‘Mind your head!’ You will hear this phrase over and over when you wander through the mazes of Mughal palaces, marble Jain temples, monumental forts and underground passageways. This is the phrase you hear while sightseeing. These words also echo in your head when visiting town to town attempting a ‘happy-go-lucky’ pace despite the fact you are being inundated by India through every sensory nerve.
or dily-dily – the Indian way. We also witness dily-dily when riding
wide gauge trains at 20mph, waiting one hour for our meals of vegetable
korma and butter nan, queuing up for train tickets, but the line in front
of you gradually becomes longer and longer as locals push their way to
the front from all sides, leaving you further and further from the counter.
Lastly you will remind yourself to be "dily-dily" when filling
out multiple forms and entries in oversized ledgers upon arrival. By the
way, I spotted 2 cows having a feast with a mound of that leather, weather-torn
ledgers if you ever wondered what they did with all that tourist information.
In order to "Mind
your head" you must also remind yourself that for every 100 obnoxious
relentless touts you are confronted by, you meet the kindest most generous
Indian to balance it out. This also goes for every stinky, rotten, sewer,
rank surface which contrasts with the most amazing historical, magical
structure located right in front of your nose.
It’s a bit surreal
looking right in front of your old haveli (mansion) guesthouse out of
your bay window and seeing 400 year old city palaces in the middle of
the lake. Or looking right in front of your bus, you stare out at the
desert and see a flock of giant vultures waiting for another wild cow
to bite it. Or right in front of a motorbike with a rajasthani in a fluorescent
pink turban in front of a lounging cow with a gray jungle crow on its
back in front of a beggar child who looks like a charcoal burnt ‘Chuckie
the doll’, in front of a Hanuman temple with orange paint slapped
all over it as if a blind leper with no fingers did the job, in front
of a temple where The Buddha happened to preach his sermons, in front
of a dung mud hut village, right in front of a harijan(untouchable) boy
sweeping the garbage under your feet, as you sit in front of a Dr. Ambedkar(leader
of the untouchables) statue, in front of an Escher-like marble carved
Jain temple, in front of those fluorescent lighting tubes which create
a green glow when the electricity goes out. Even a Japanese rock garden
sits before you, in front of a camel cart loaded with lanky sun-withered
women in red veiled mirrored saris, in front of the dancing gypsy girl
carrying a metal hoop balancing on a rope above a monkey on a chain, all
of it right in front of you. As you walk through the streets, you will
remind yourself to ‘Mind your head!’ or else suffer a cultural
concussion tripping over India- the best high you will ever encounter
on the road.