Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In which I get too lazy to write full paragraphs, and HOLI.

Holi in Pushkar

Howdy! Blogging is a lot of work, as I am millions of other wannabes have figured out. So I am continuing in list format, so that my poor forgotten sister can have a blog entry to read (she has apparently been trying to tweet me for weeks, but I don't understand how twitter works, either, and just got them yesterday . . .)!

Most amazing place to see, full of deeply holy and deeply unscrupulous people peacefully coexisting in a windy, almost cartoonishly densely built city. Until late, when apparently the place is a crime haven . . . oh, well, I wouldn't know. Between the desperate need for a shower after a day on the town, and the fact that the back alleys where all the excitement is are not lit at night, I was home by a reasonable hour enjoying a cold beer most nights . . .

. . . Which all changed dramatically in Haridwar and Rishikesh, which are dry towns. Also entirely vegetarian, which I had known ahead of time . . . but dry? Well, now I know where Needham and Wellesley got THAT bad idea. But Rishikesh was so green, and clean, and our heroine conquered a new realm -- rafting. I have a new favorite sport, and a newfound detestation for giggling teenagers that go on athletic trips to flirt with the guide and leave all the hard work to B and I. We were also the only two to jump in the Ganges and swim, and figure out how to successfully get back IN the boat (a bigger feat than one might guess)! And all of the aging hippies reliving the days of the Beatles . . . love them.

HA. Delhi is almost fine if you keep a sense of humor about it, but I would find myself at night going over the events of my day and reliving them the way I wish I had. Which often involved a lot of wit and some degree of martial arts. Nothing comes CLOSE to my fury on the holiday of Holi, however. It has actually taken me until now to write about it with any degree of calm!
Holi is the annual festival of colors in India, and it involved throwing colored powder and water on people -- which is all very pretty and cool, as festival ideas go. For a few days previous, however, I found myself (and only myself) getting pelted with water balloons by locals who never identified themselves, let me in on the joke, or seemed to be aiming for anyone other than foreigners walking without men. On the actual day, we were physically assaulted as soon as we stepped outside our hotel door -- gangs of young men with powder congregated outside the hotels in our neighborhood and threw it on people. Which was not a problem -- we had powder and were prepared to join right in. The problem was that we were two women, and definitely got hit worse than co-ed or all-male groups. If I were able to post pictures at the moment you would see that by 11 am our heroine more closely resembled a guerrilla fighter in jungle makeup than a tourist.

And it was PHYSICAL. Getting a rubdown on my chest, my face, my rear -- and it was all so confusing! Everyone is laughing along, pretending it is normal, it is the middle of the morning . . . so we didn't know getting angry was an option. I did find myself saying, "No groping, thanks," but when it's one on five -- well, it didn't get me too far. Poor Bonnie, as a blonde she got even more attention than I did, and the pink was in her hair for a week. It was so ridiculous that a rickshaw driver offered to drive us for free to the end of our street because he didn't feel we were safe. By this point, I had had a young gent (I use the term loosely) grab me from behind and cover my mouth while smearing green on my head. In a country where unmarried men and women don't generally have physical contact in public, it was as though we had targets on our heads and signs saying "ANNOUNCEMENT: PROMISCUOUS FOREIGN WOMEN. AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC TOUCHING." I am really uncomfortable making that sort of general statement, but when you're as thick-skinned as I am and you end up crying in your hotel room . . . well . . .

And I hate to do it, but I have to end on that note. Because that's how India ended for me. So much of it was so beautiful, and so many people were kind and fun and helpful -- but I have such a bitter taste in my mouth.

(image via, under Creative Commons attribution license)


  1. 獨居時,要反省自己的過錯;在社會大眾之間,則要忘卻別人的過失。..................................................

  2. 與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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