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Points of view

Shortly after arriving in the very un-touristy town of Chittorgarh on
the afternoon train, Erik and his father:

"Most travellers want the fantasy and the island, this is just the
"It can be your Alcatraz if you want it to be.  It's my Tahiti."

Wry smiles around the table, four very different travellers tucking into
their liquid- fire daal (soft lentils, heavily spiced), thinking their
own thoughts.  Never a dull moment on the road.

So began the generic message I planned to send from Chittorgarh - the
very Indian town with the big fort, well off the tourist trail, that we
arrived in nearly 3 weeks ago.  It was supposed to be about the crowded
train ride there (with the big family and their lice suspect children
pressing into us) and the dirty old hotel that we found ourselves in
once we got there.  The ride that I loved (how can you do anything but
laugh with 11 Indians all trying to share your particular car with half
an empty train around you?), and the hotel that I chose.  Corner
building, 3 levels (4?), wide veranda around its arched front, awesome,
fading green.  Where the friendly desk man even gave me clean sheets
(tucked them in himself!), and where I slept one of my best sleeps in
India.  About how we were all in the same town together, and yet had
completely different experiences of it.

The next message was supposed to be about Bundi - the town we went to
after Chittorgarh.  The fantastic bus ride over, through a series of
beautiful little nowhere towns ripe with guavas and too many excited
school boys.  The palace on the hill, that, though crumbling, somehow
maintains an air of oppulence.  And the city beneath, all serpentine
alleyways and fresh, bright paint and hidden wells dipping down still
further, below the life of the city into the heart of the earth.

But it's not.  Not Chittorgarh nor Bundi, nor even Varanasi, the city
that a gusethouse companion said you didn't even need an imagination to
picture life in 200 years ago since nothing's changed in all that time. 
All of that will have to come later.

This message is about expectation and moving on.  Sitting at the same
hotel computer in Kolkata that I wrote my first jittery impressons of
India from, waiting for my nighttime flight back to Seoul.  The circle
completing itself.  Part of me has already gone - is salivating over the
thought of fresh kimchi and rice in Korea, can feel Mo's soft fur
(always preferable to her sharp teeth!) brushing by in the morning, is
lesson planning and visiting friends and getting back to projects.  And
part of me can't believe this trip is already over.  There's still so
much to see!!!

And on that note, time to pass my last few moments on the streets,
drinking chai, watching.  I enter and leave this city at nearly the same
hour - the symmetry of beginning and ending with a cup of tea appeals to