The majestic Taj Mahal
This is what it looks like when your bus driver decides to drive down the wrong side of the road in order to get you to McDonald’s. For the record, this did not seem to faze the oncoming traffic one bit.
I’m going to be writing about things a bit out of order, lots of thoughts to catch up on.
We just returned from our mini foray into northern India. One of the most salient observations we had in Delhi is that there are almost no women in the streets. On a journey into the market on a Monday afternoon, three American girls would have stood out anywhere in India. But here, we stuck out even more because every single person we passed was male. It was disconcerting. Whether they were shop owners, shoppers, beggars, drivers, etc., all men. We thought that maybe it was just this area, but even when we were back near our hotel, women were completely absent from sight. This had not been the case in Mumbai. The only exception was when we entered what we’ve nicknamed the “wedding section” of the market, which I’ll write about later. So where are all the women in Delhi?
What do you think the different types of weather are? You have sunny, cloudy, rain, snow, sleet, hail. Partly cloudy, overcast, windy, etc.
In India, I’ve been introduced to a new weather forecast: Smoke. When I opened the Weather Channel app here, it said 24 degrees (that’s Celsius) and “Smoke” with an image that looks like a moon with a wispy cloud in front of it, except it’s a daytime forecast. I don’t really know why this qualifies as a type of weather, but when I stepped out onto the rooftop terrace, the weather was warm and sunny with the distinct smell of smoke. (See previous post about the smells of Mumbai.) It was a bit hazy out, but visibility was relatively clear. The only thing that was “smokey” about this beautiful day was the smell. Curious…
You always hear about how the food is spicy in India, but what no one ever mentions is how sweet it is, too. I know, seems like a contradiction, but if a dish isn’t spicy, then it’s sweet. Coffee and tea are both served with enough spoonfuls of sugar to please Mary Poppins. My favourite dessert, Gulab Jamun, is fried balls of dough in sugar syrup. Even today, a member of my project team ordered a pizza; it was basically a salad on top of pizza dough that was coated in brown sugar. Conclusion: This is the land of sugar as much as it’s the land of spice.
When I walk around Mumbai, I can’t help but notice the diversity of smells. Some are pleasant scents, like roasting wood or spicy curry. Some are… not, like decaying garbage and human excrement. One moment, something disgusting catches your nose, and just when you think you can’t bear it anymore, the breeze wafts in something sweet. I’ve never been as aware of scent as I am in this city.
New York is dominated by sound, Paris by sight, Florence by taste, and Mumbai, most definitely, by the sense of smell.