Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In which we venture into the Smog

Our taxi driver was rather disgruntled that we wouldn't pay Rs. 1200 for him to drive us around the whole day, but screw him, we need to get in shape for walking around at 7,600 feet anyway. Jon and I both agree that eating in Bhutan will make us healthy supermen by the time we leave (despite the fact that two of the most popular dishes are basically cheese soup and cheese fries and the basic idea for Bhutanese cooking is "Water, butter, boil!"), but it would be rather nice to be healthy coming in as well. And I am going to have a basketball team to coach. Hopefully the rims will be 4-6 inches shorter than regulation American rims and I can impress my kids by dunking (like I did over ye olde fools at the Terrace Olympics, imho the most awesome moment of my life).

Anyway, we payed the disgruntled taxi man and then went into the Lodhi gardens to discover the cutest chipmunks I have ever seen as well as running into a bunch of parrots and many, many sleeping dogs who think nothing of plopping down right in the middle of a walkway for hours on end. And we also saw an ancient tomb and a mosque, which Feyer took a picture of:

It's probably not visible in the picture, but there were these intensely blue ceramic tiles left in some places on the building that used to cover the whole top, which must have made the thing look like one gigantic gemstone way back when. Behind us as we took the picture is the tomb, which, as Feyer noted, is really odd in that the olden guys built a gigantic monument to honor someone and then didn't even bother putting his name on the thing.

So we visited the tomb, we visited the mosque, we got to do some non-western style in-your-face tourism involving actually going into monuments covered in graffiti and rain-water-induced corrosion and not clinically observing them as part of a tour group, we wandered through the Lodhi gardens and got sprayed by a sprinkler. Then, aided by the position of the sun in the sky, we found our way up to the Indian Gate about a mile an a half north, which is basically India's version of the Arc de Triumph. Took some touristy pictures, had lunch thirty minutes previously (INDIAN FOOD IS DELICIOUS AND AWESOME), then marched down to the Indian Parliament, where we observed a man climbing around the elephant statues (pic courtesy of Feyer) at the top of the Parliamentary fence, probably with the intention of breaking into India's government and staging "the ballsiest coup ever" (q. Feyer).

Then we went off to the bustling heart of Delhi
where we were offered marijuana by a youth, which we declined. Then we walked past the Indian Supreme Court, the Modern School, went over a raised walkway (!) instead of playing Frogger on the highway like usual and ended back up at the Gate, where we flagged a taxi that took us to the Lotus Temple.

The Lotus Temple (picture Fey-fey), we learned, is one of seven epically beautiful awesome temples made by devotees of the Baha'i faith, which according to our handy temple pamphlets, is a religion that wishes to co-exist with Science, has eight major tenets (world peace, compulsory universal education, non-prejudice, the equality of men and women, others I can't remember) and thinks that the number 9, as the largest of the digits in the base-10 system, is a perfect number. We were allowed to go inside the temple, which is hollow, and to meditate in silence, which was very relaxing, transcendent, and enhanced by the echoing warbles of a bird that had decided to fly inside and roost along the ceiling.

I think it's rather odd that people universally have a need to go and make buildings designed primarily to allow one to go and sit and let one's mind unfurl. Epiphenomenal, in its own collective-unconsciousness kind of way. As we left the building, the sun happened to rest perfectly between the petals at the top of the building, and then we were whisked off by our waiting taxi-man to a store where they tried to sell us Kashmir and other fabrics apparently made from sheep beards, which our handy salesman kept telling us about while we continued to emphasize that we were really not going to buy anything and had quite the hankering to leave, thank you but no thank you.

Now I am sitting in a hotel room and debating the merits of complimentary bar Kingfisher beers over $4 room service ones.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an amazing adventure you are having ZEB! I'm intrigued to continue reading as you continue journeying through the depths of foreign lands! Have fun! I hope you chose the complimentary beers...