I had my shoes stolen outside a temple this morning. We were only there such a short while, and some of the guys in our group were joking about shoes getting stolen before we went in. I guess it’s just something I’ve got to roll with, but it’s definitely disappointing. They were great shoes, totally equipped for our upcoming Himalayan trek, waterproof and sturdy, and I’m feeling a little naked without them, but what can ya do?
We also saw an elephant walking through a street today, which almost made it all worthwhile. It was pretty cool to see.
I also feel like being here is going to help me be more assertive in life in general, b/c i feel like I have to be, with just about everything. It should also help me learn to say no in a clear, strong way, b/c I constantly have to. Everywhere we go, there are people asking us to buy postcards or candles, or give them money, or go this place or that place, and on and on. And with things like crossing th e street, now that I”m going around on my own a few time s a day, you just have to be aggressive and there is no two ways about it, or you would just never cross the street ever. It’s not something I’m confortable with, but again, part of being here on this trip is pushing my comfort zone, and learning, growing stretching, and I think it’s great that part of an aspect of this journey might be me exercising assertiveness and boundaries.
There was a huge festival in honor of Shiva last night, and we had to stay in our guest house. Everyone from our local host to people at the local chai stand were telling us how dangerous it was, especially for women. So we stayed in, and traveled as a group when we went to dinner.
Tomorrow morning, we are leaving for Bodhgaya. We think we’ll be staying at a temple, but not sure yet. We learned a bit about the place yesterday, and it is in the poorest state in India, where apparently there is a presence of leprosy. Oh and it is also a communist state. I wish I knew a lot more about the politics of India and hope to learn more as we go along our journey.
Another interesting note on the subject of politics is that our squatting toilets got clogged yesterday (our group used too much toilet paper for what those toilets can handle), and the people they had come and fix it were untouchables. I am pretty sure the caste system was outlawed awhile ago, maybe mid-century, but like a lot of unequal things in society with long histories of prejudice, it still exists.
After Bodhgaya, we’re headed on to Calcutta, which is the place I’m the most nervous about, but also the place I expect might be the most rewarding. There we will be volunteering at an orphanage, the Mother Theresa Home for the Destitute. It will be an journey, I’m sure.
All right, peace out.
Song I really wish I could hear right now:
“Colors” – Amos Lee
You really have to see Slumdog when you get back — you’ll probably really appreciate it, even though apparently the Indians hated it (which I can understand, too). You heard it won the Oscar, right? Eight of them, actually — see, India’s en vogue again now!