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India 1

Okay all - thought I'd sent this to all of you a couple of days ago (and
wondering why you were all so darned silent on the topic!) but see now
that there was an error and it didn't go through.  So here it is - parts
1, 2 and 3 all at once.  Sorry to the 3 of you who have already seen
this and are getting it again (your addresses were burried and I didn't
have time to remove them from this list...).

All's great!!  Happy New Year and be well!!


It's only 8:48pm, but it feels like 3am.  And I was all set a minute ago
to sign off of this computer that I've already been in front of for much
too long, climb the stairs to my (delightful) cell on the roof, and flop
into a blissfully deep sleep for one more night.  

But here I am.

Because every day here is so full of new sights, sounds, smells,
sensations... saturation.  That I know if I don't get at least this much
out now it may be lost forever.  And while that may not matter much to
you (one way or the other), since I have also not managed to journal
since arriving in India, it would certainly matter to me.

So here I stay.

I'm not sure which is worse - anticipating the axe drop, or watching it
directly.  Not sure because in this morning's kidd sacrifice (such an
adorable, tender creature!  All curly black hair and wide, innocent
eyes...) I had only the first experience.  Etched permanently into my
mind (whether I'd like it to be or not).  One moment I am standing in
the only quiet spot on the temple grounds, beside a pretty and deserted
picket fence, admiring the young men and their docile "pet" on it's
lead.  The next, a flash of enormous curved blade rises above the narrow
posts a few short feet away followed by a swift crunch and a spatter of
blood all around my feet.  I'm not stupid - I did know what was coming
when I saw the blade rise.  Especially given that I was standing on the
grounds of the infamous Kali Temple - dedicated to the goddess of death.
Still, to know and to see are different things entirely.  And I didn't
shift my head between the gap to see the actual slice.  Though I didn't
need to to see the vacant eyes staring up at the sky from a peculiar
angle, opposite the tiny, oozing cavity of neck.  Day 2 begins.

48 hours in Kolkata (Calcutta, recently renamed to its Bengali root) is
nothing if not gripping.  This is a city beyond all expectations,
bursting with an incredible energy that I find both captivating and
thoroughly overwhelming.  From the scores of 50's-esque cabs plying the
streets, to the crumbling facades of beautiful colonial buildings, to
the accented and formal english of the locals to the abundance of
man-drawn rickshaws...life here feels like the set of a very old movie. 
Charming and lovely, yet at the same time a little bit terrible.  Yet
which ever way it runs, I am hooked.  And, for the time being, staying

I worry, looking over this, that there is more of the terrible and
overwhelmed in this note than of the charming and lovely.  That you will
not be able to understand how wonderful it is here, despite (because
of?) these things.  Yet at 9:17pm I am totally crashed, nothing left,
going to bed.  So, before parting, a request...hold off on your
judgements for one (or 2?) days more.  While I sleep off today's
saturation and sacrifice and make room for more of the wonder to seep in
- along with better words to share it.  The best I can do for now - a
deep breath and a single word, "India".  Savor it.