. Left, right and center views from the back seat of a tuk-tuk. Proving once again conclusively that Indian children are the most beautiful beings on the planet.
These shots were snapped from the back seat of a tuk-tuk coming home from work. We had pulled to a stop. I looked left, and saw this lovely family of three on a scooter, with the little girl sandwiched in between mama and papa. Smiles and flirtations from the little girl, beams of pride from the parents. Photos happened. Looking front and center, you can see what I saw: the driver’s back and a broken meter. Looking right, a tuk-tuk jammed full with schoolgirls talking on cellphones and looking at me with happy curiosity. Photos happened. I have never seen more beautiful smiles than here in India.
We embarked on this trip chanting the mantra, “No learning, no enlightenment,” but in spite of this, in the past couple of weeks, there are several things that I have learned:
1. Indian traffic proves a point I’ve spent most of my life trying to make: there don’t need to be rules to for there to be harmony. Traffic here is insane, but what is crazier still is that no-one gets angry. No-one raises their voice. When a tuk-tuk pulls out in front of a car, the car slides around it; when you launch yourself into traffic as a pedestrian, the traffic moves around you like water, not stopping to question, just going with the flow.
2. It is possible to move a twenty-foot length of metal pipe on a bicycle at rush hour.
3. In India it is always rush hour.
4. Decoding the Indian wobble-head thing is impossible. It can mean yes, no, maybe, I don’t care, I am bored, etc., which in my book means that it actually means nothing. It does, however, make Westerners want to eat their own heads.
5. Even monks shop for DVDs and talk on cell phones.
6. Eating dal for breakfast ensures that you won’t get hungry until 4pm.
These fragrant ropes will find their way to temples, and be draped around the necks of statues, strung across the front of smoky tuk-tuks (also known as “auto rickshaws”), and settle onto every available surface in our temporary apartment. They will last for only a couple of days; so the flower people are ensured work, since flower garlands are everywhere :
Our driver, Bhaskar, explained that the jasmine flowers women wear in their hair is a Bangalore tradition. I bought a string and he pinned them into to my braid. Immediately I was enveloped in a magical force field of jasmine that moved with me as I walked. It became clear that this was a tradition that had sprung from simple necessity: in a country that can sideswipe you at any moment with a powerful waft of, “What the hell is that…” it makes perfect sense to enlist sweet jasmine to go to battle against the elements, and remind you of the beauty of life :
It also occurred to me that the scarf women wear draped across their neck isn’t just an elegant statement of modesty, it provides a handy rag to hold over your mouth and nose on a moments notice. Accident? I don’t think so :