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Notes from My Travels in India

Working and Traveling in India - October to December, 1999

India Map


The Flat
The Flat

It took me 3 planes and about 25 hours to get to India. But since the flight into Bangalore arrived at 4:30 am, I had the coming day to work before going to the flat for sleep. Sleeping all day did not seem like the best option. The efficiency of arriving so early that one does this naturally, is a rather curious twist to the life I notice arround me.

Coming in, I know things have shifted when we're silently gassed on the plane soon after it lands in Tokoyo, so when it happens again in Singapore there's a subtle resignation to the inevitably of it. What Singapore offers that Tokoyo does not, is a police state. It's 2am in the morning, in the terminal, and within the space of 20 minutes a traveler will see more uniformed officers than can be counted on baggage stretched fingers. I hazard a guess that they're waiting for a terrorist attack from the Penan. Fingeratively speaking.

The next flight, on Indian Airlines reminds me of why I largely quit flying in the 80's. I had one too many planes flying with unknown stress related noises, the kind you didn't want to contemplate while at 35,000 feet.

But even before the plane has left the Singapore airport, we've been magically transported into India. Irrespective of any actual separation of linear distance and time.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of a concern for individual self preservation, this flight is worse than any other I've ever had, not only are there groans and shudders that are never heard on the typical Southwest or America West flights today, but there's also the small matter of the steam vapor clouds pouring out of the ventilation, with fungal overtones. It arrives with a smell I've come to associate with the India I'm in now. This time however it's hard to tell if I'm being gassed or just deliberately immersed within an already rather bacteria rich environment. Somehow the logic of more being better in this case completely escapes me.

The plane's overhead lights also have a mind of their own, either not working at all, or turning on or off of their own volition. Wondering about the state of the rest of plane's electrical system appears to only occupy my time, since no one else appears to let these mundane details get in the way of their enthusiastic rush to sit down, but not before stuffing as many bags into the overheads as possible, in order to leave plenty of foot room. The flight is completely full, and the overheads are filled to bursting. Checking luggage appears to be an after thought for only one bag.

It's those many small things that add up to the rather constant attention I pay to the noisy more apparrent details of this flight. Even though now it's rather useless to be concerned about it, since the plane is flying across almost 2000 miles of open water it does make for some interesting images of tossing about in the water far below as shark bait.

For now, the best thing to do is to go along with rather changeable pace of the flight, which alternates roughly between various jumbled states of lights out with an opportunity to sleep, lights on for activities such as an indian lunch in the early AM hours, or the hissing twilight vapor driven one.

Considering that almost everyone else on this flight (they're all Indian) falls naturally into this rather bewildering flow of activity and inactivity, it's best to try to match that energetic rise and fall, with at least a simular amount of syncronistic attention to detail. Skipping the contemplation of how which male treated his wife with a surprising lack of awareness, or it's opposite, and which male then behaved with a paternalistic display of control in the interactive things like obtaining blankets, pillows, and filling out custom forms, or how each individual colorful sari fits within the visible demonstration of male/female roles, I note I'm already in India. It's just the small matter of the next 5 hours to contend with, accompanied by a rather new finely honed concern over exactly how the plane will actually manage to fly there.

By the time I actually land almost 5 hours later I'm now used to the slow mad rush to exit the plane to que up for the customs lines, and the rather curious process to xray my baggage yet again - just to get into the country. I guess it makes alot of sense to put those idle people and machines to work to ensure that no great trade in guns, and the like, will pass into India. How contraband material has managed to get this far without being detected is not their concern, but zapping my semi-precious film again appears to be. Quickly I snatch the film out of my bags.

Leaving the airport building I am beseiged with a human wall and numerous offers to drive me to, or to assist me with my bags. However, since a ride has been rather prudently previously arranged, I somehow manage to carry my own bags to the waiting car. For some reason the appointed driver is rather uninterested in helping me with them. A small payment of rupees would no doubt alter this, but having none I'm free to shoulder my own bags.





Friday, October 15:
A Building Puja,
Ayudha Puja Lines
Monday, October 18:
Ayudha Puja

The reason I'm in here, is to work with our recently opened support office located in India's version of Silicon Valley. Of course nothing outside the office doors would lead a new vistor like me to think that it could be the same work we do back in California. With global network connections it's now possible to do this. However in the few days I've been here there have been frequent short-lived power outages (it's why I brought 2 laptops with me) and our global network connection was largely unusable for almost 24 hours. It appears like the world outside the high-tech doors, there's still a ways to go before we arrive into the global community. Inside those doors however, we're flying on our silicon carpets.

Except for the technical inconviences which have to be born with a studied indifference, my time is largely spent with my mind inside the machine. So it came as a bit of a jolt while deep into a coding trance to see an elder Indian breeze into my office.

Sir, the building puja is starting. We need you to attend. It will only take 5 minutes. Please sir, please come. Downstairs. It's important.

I look at the California time still registering on the computer, it's 3:50 am.

I mumble, Um ... OK.  I was of course not in the same room as this gentleman.







In many ways it's been incredible to slowly experience the working integration of a religious/intuitive sensitivity, into the normal flow of everyday life. It's woven in so effortlessly and naturally, it's hard to comprehend that from the same Gangiatic stream, India is trying hard to join the Internet revolution that is sweeping the tecno-material world.








I loved this flowing script here. But that's not the story.

St Patricks Catholic High School Detail
Sometimes you stop to take one picture, only to be instantly presented with something entirely different.
Catholic High School

In this case I was trying to photograph the St Patrick's High School, when all the children within eyesight converged on the camera.

India is constantly about involving all in the present moment, and never leaves it to a single individual.





Sunday, November 7

They're at it again here, another Festival - and just a week before, it was a state holiday. Now this. Life seems to move here from festival to festival, not from work to weekend, and back to work. Work is what's done around the festivals.

It's been going on for hours now, fireworks that at times have sounded like the pounding of rain on a tin roof. For now it's the rather constant din of explosives in the background, but frequently enough right ouside my door. The effect of all this noise, as usual is to bring everyone in resonance with it. Short of tunneling under the ground, and wearing earplugs there's no escape. India has this way of burrowing into your consciousness whether you're interested in what's there or not.

Eight hours later, the sporatic noise of explosions continues to invade. I was told that it's a night to stay up and not sleep. It's a far cry and a different world here from the all night Shalako dance at Zuni coming in a few weeks, when a little chanting and drumming are all that's needed to keep one awake through a long dark frosty night.

The festival of Diwali,  is the celebration of the forces of good over evil, light over dark. Coming at the time of year when the Sun is near it's lowest ebb in the northern hemisphere, it's interesting to note the simularity between the wide spread use of light and fire, with the farilitos and luminarias in New Mexico during December half way arround the world.

Hmm, Sans this noise.

Here it's the Fouth of July and Christmas all rolled up into one event. I think this place without it's constant barrage of noise and din, would be as out of place with itself as those few empty desert lots which appear from time to time on the Las Vegas Strip. Tonight they've managed to glorify the constant presence of noise, and make it a community communion.

Somehow, it seems fitting that the Pope was busy preaching about Christianity in New Delhi yesterday. I hope he was able to party some. It would be hard to do worse, since these people certainly get everyone involved in their festivities. One way, or the other.


November 11

Bangalore Magazine -
see Bangalore Buzz


Diwali left 2 dead, 4 blinded and 21 injured in Bangalore.


More Information:
Wikipedia: Bangalore
CraigsList: Bangalore




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18 June 2005