Monthly Archives: December 2011

Last days of India with a little ball of fur


New Delhi, Delhi, India

I was bound and determined to make my last day in India a fulfilling one so I was up very early to make sure all of my stuff was packed and ready for International airline travel, all of my arrangements for a late checkout (flight didn’t leave until 3 am) with transport to the airport had been made, and my lucky travel Scooby Doo underwear was ready to go.

Then I returned to one of the rooftop restaurants for a breakfast of sambhar vada, a dosa, some cuurd and a bucket of chai.

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I had decided that I would skip a few of the really high profile tourist attractions like the Red Fort and the Lotus Temple because they were a little far away from where I was situated and I didn’t feel like taking chances with unscrupulous autorickshaw or taxi drivers and end up in a store called Sanjay and Son’s Silks, Sarees and Sambar (So soft and savory).

Instead I chose to pick some lesser known attractions that were close to Main Bazaar and walk to them.

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The National Museum was just a short jaunt away. The largest collection of Indian history and art in the country, this impressive institution houses many ancient works as well as modern art. The 12th century dancing Shiva is particularly impressive.

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Another short walk took me to the Jantar Mantar, an astrological observatory built in 1725 that includes a huge and very accurate sundial along with various other instruments used to measure distances and placements in the heavens.

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But it was while walking in Central Park later, in the city’s core, where I would have the most profound experience of the day.

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Central Park is a fairly large city park full of greenery and pathways where the people of New Delhi relax and picnic over top of the Palika Bazar. It’s fairly busy with the hustle and bustle along the pathways by office workers, shoppers going to Connaught Circus, and the vendors who want to sell to them.

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As I walked down one of the paths nibbling on a pakora that I bought from a stand, I heard a tiny whine from below me.

Under one of the cement sidewalk stones that covered a storm drain, a small furball was using an old sneaker as a pillow as the traffic from a hundred people walked on the path over him.

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I sat and watched him for a bit as he yawned and made himself comfortable unconcerned with the city that zoomed over and around him. It was this juxtaposition that ended up having the biggest impact on me that day. Just as the slums that surrounded the million dollar condominiums in Mumbai, this little guy represented the spirit of this country to me. Life will continue on it’s own path no matter what you throw at it, be it the family’s existence in a corrugated aluminum shack at the base of a construction site, or a tiny stray puppy taking a nap while the hordes of New Delhi travel overtop. I left the area, content with the feeling that I had seen a small glimpse into the meaning of India.

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I returned to Main Bazaar and picked out a restaurant to be my final meal in Delhi, a nice thali with some chana masala and naan with yet another cup of chai.

I left Main Bazaar and Old Delhi by cab later that night, and I was still thinking of the puppy and his Goldstar brand running shoe pillow, as I looked out the window at the traffic clogging the highway to the airport.

I reached Indira Gandhi International Airport with some time to spend my last remaining rupees on a snack, some bottled water, and a few last minute gifts that I could stuff into my backpack.

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At midnight, the five day festival of Pancha Ganapati started, celebrating Lord Genesha as the guardian of Culture and patron of the arts. I waited at gate 182 for my Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt that would surely be filled with efficient flight attendants and meals of schnitzel and sauerkraut, but my mind was still on the puppy under the sidewalk.

My flight was called and I walked into the glass and steel bridge that led to the Boeing 747, and took my last breaths of the smokey Asian air that I had been breathing for the last 2 months. And as if India was waving me goodbye, I watched as celebratory fireworks were exploding high in the New Delhi air marking the Elephant God’s holiday. So long India, thanks for the great time. I’m sure we’ll meet again.

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The devil hordes


I don’t know about all of you, but for some damned reason, I’m a kid magnet. I swear that there is some sort of psychic vibe, or some strange pheromone that I put out that attracts children directly to me. It doesn’t matter if I have the beard or not, dressed up or in jeans, breathing fire or holding a chocolate puppy dog, the wee ones just LOVE being around me, even though I think that they are vile, chattering, disease bags.I have been asked, many times, why it is that I don’t like children, and most times I just answer “because they suck”, but in an effort to offer a more substantial explanation, I need to itemize the short comings of the little darlings, and the best way to do that is to categorize the different types of young terror.

The various categories of the infant scourge can be broken down as follows:

1) The newborn. This particular sect of the under aged demons is the least noxious, due mostly to the fact that they are not yet mobile. And although they do cry, they don’t usually for very long.

The problem with this classification is not the child… but all of the adoring adults that surround it. When the newborn arrives in a room, it does not enter by itself. It is accompanied by a plethora of carriers, blankets, diaper bags, food bags, toy bags, dirt bags, and thirty-seven different varieties of disinfecting wipes. A crowd gathers around the specimen spouting diatribes of baby talk that would be embarrassing but for the twenty other PHD educated beings in the room saying the same things. “Awww look at the widdle man and his widdle face. Isn’t he the most adorable baby you have ever seen?” I nod yes, even though I’m wondering why they put a knit cap on a wrinkly apricot.

2) The nine month old. A much more dangerous instance of the youngling horde. It may have just learned to walk, or it’s crawling at about sixty miles per hour, either way, mobility is definitely an issue. It moves about from place to place, wide eyed with discovery, leaving a path of utter destruction in its wake. Tiny little hands grab anything and everything within its reach. A toy, a spoon, a handful of sand, a tube of lipstick, the book that you’re reading, or a rock, it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s within reach, this little devil will get a hold of it… and deposit it directly into their mouth.

If they like what they taste, they will keep it moist with what seems an endless amount of slobber (you weren’t enjoying that book anyways). If they don’t like what they taste… they cry with a wail that drowns out the airplanes passing overhead and sets off every car alarm in the neighbourhood, for the world has come to an end because this particular rock, that is in its mouth, has no flavour.

Somebody nearby, maybe a parent, or a parent wannabe, asks “Oh no Jimmy, what’s wrong?” The infant (who’s named Simone, and not Jimmy) retrieves the igneous piece of stone from its oral passage, and hands it, dripping with drool, to the questioning adult. Then, as if nothing happened at all, continues on its journey of taste sensations and oral exploration… Oh… is that an open beer?

3) The toddler. This heinous denizen of the playground is the most volatile of the bunch. Having mastered mobility, they wander aimlessly amongst the adults, experimenting with logic, physics, and communication. Instead of rocks, the toddler actually inserts foodstuffs into their mouths. Favorites include potato chips, candy, and potato chips. When trying something new, this tiny ball of endless energy will always approach it with trepidation. You can actually see the wheels turning inside the tiny monkey brain as they work out the logic of new experiences.

For instance, say a toddler (oh lets call it… Jimmy-Simone) approaches the food tables at a party. As with any party in Manitoba, there is a large tray of cheese cubes. Little Jimmy-Simone points to them and asks, “What’s that?” to which you reply, “That is a lovely tray of cheese cubes”.

Answering the cherub of doom is your first mistake, because now it has an opportunity to use the fundamental logic process of the three year old, or, as I like to call it, the “Why Loop”. The conversation goes something like this:

“What’s that?”

“That is a lovely tray of cheese cubes”

*Blank stare, wheels turn*

“It’s for all of the party guests”

“Why?”

“Because people like to eat cheese”

“Why?”

“Because it tastes good”

“Why?”

“Because gustatory cells express receptors that send specialized signals to the brain through nerve endings”

“Why?”

“Because cheese stimulates conversation”

“Why?”

“Because this is Manitoba”

“Why?”

“Because the white man stole the land from the Indians and named it that.”

*blinks* “Oh… ok.”

Then little J.S. reaches out and grabs one of the orange squares and pops it in its mouth. This is followed by a look of concern because the sugar content is less than seventy five percent. Jim-Sim then retrieves the cheese cube, now soggy and misshapen, and returns it to the tray. While wiping its hands on its shirt, Jimmy-Sim spies a very large bowl of potato chips. Happy with this discovery, it leaves the table with the whole bowl in search of a quiet corner away from the other demons, to devour the contents, and then, maybe later, barf.

4) The six year old. This is the Arch-demon of the pre-pubescent caste. A malevolent monster of the most horrible nightmares, everyone and everything fears the six year old. It has mastered all of the impish arts, and is not only mobile, but can teleport itself in an instant to any dangerous location. Turn your head for a mere moment, and the six year old has scaled the fence and is running towards the construction gear being used to tar the roof at the community centre across the street. Not only does it communicate with pristine self-serving logic, but it has also discovered commercial consumerism. It is the target of many a company’s advertisements and is the key demographic of every entertainment conglomerate. It arrives in its designer jeans from “Child Gap”, sporting a t-shirt from the latest Disney motion picture, Armani sandals, and a ball cap from the Detroit Tigers (even though it has never sat through a full inning of play let alone a game of baseball).

Clutched in its tight grasp, the six year old holds the latest horror of water weaponry. The Super Nerf Soaker Blaster 5000 complete with 2 liter reservoir. Although this instrument of liquid war has a range of six hundred feet, it’s much more fun to use it as a bludgeoning club.

Its mother addresses it upon entry to the back yard. “Oh Linden, my precious little thing, don’t you think that trampling the flowers is a bad thing?” Linden ignores the pleas of the matriarch, instead scanning the area for his own kind, for it knows just as well as everyone else, that the only thing worse than a six year old, is a group of six year olds.

After inspecting the field of operations, it discovers that it is the oldest of the hellions at the party presently. Which makes it the alpha-demon. Quickly, it scans the lesser beings for allies. It scopes out little Jimmy-Simone and the potato chip bowl, and rushes to claim it. There is resistance, but J.S. is quickly overcome by the fury that is Linden, drenched in an instant from the fine weaponry that was purchased from the Wal-Mart a mere twenty minutes previous, and which will soon be rendered useless due to it’s misuse as a baseball bat later in the day.

As the day moves on, more and more goblins arrive adding to the horde’s numbers. Roving bands of sticky, screaming, over stimulated urchins, spraying water, throwing cheese cubes, and culminating in such a cacophony of noise that can only be described by the book of Revelations, as it tears through the space time continuum and crescendos into a singularity that rents the soul of God…

But, as in all things, there is hope.

The one item in every adult’s arsenal that can tame the clamorous brood. The holy piece of blessed salvation that will save the day and spare the eardrums of us all. A DVD of the latest Disney offering is projected on the sixty four inch plasma screen in the living room… and all of the pixies stop in their tracks… mesmerized by the computer assisted animation and the overly simplified morals of a white Christian banality. The demons hunker down and view the offering with open eyes, ears, and mouths, absorbing the indoctrination and thus preparing them for later years in life, when they can cook my french fries, fix my toilet, and pump my gas.

Although the reprieve is only as long as the animated vehicle/bug/robot figures out its moral dilemma, it is long enough for me to hide my toys and eat the rest of the potato chips.

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