New Delhi street view
Well, we made it there and back again, but we’re not in good shape. The trip is 32 hours door to door, in 3 airplanes, through 4 airports and too many security checks. Disturbed sleep or near-total lack of it in my case (very light sleeper and insomniac), irregular eating of warmed-over food and, especially in my case, very little of it (mild but constant motion sickness), and the folding of time itself (Calcutta is 10.5 hours ahead of Boston), and the breathing in of the dense pollution of India’s big cities — all do a decent job of lowering one’s immunity to the billions of strange germs one comes into contact with.
Goofing around in front of the Taj Mahal
Long story short, we’re all of us down with jetlag, coughs and colds, and jetlag. It’s 4 am and Amie is watching How to Train Your Dragon and coughing incessantly. My nose is running and my ears are ringing and I want to go to sleep. DH, in Amie’s room (where her bed is but where she will not as yet deign to sleep) is awake too. Amie will miss school again tomorrow.
Rajastani apiary and mustard field
But it was worth it. We got to spend lots of time with family, including Amie’s great-grandmother, her grandparents, aunts and uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles and countless friends and other family. We flew North for five days to see Delhi, Agra (the Taj Mahal had just been cleaned up for Obama’s visit) and Jaipur, and even made a short trip to Shanteniketan (Tagore’s town, a three hour drive from Calcutta).
Lake garden at the Amber Fort in Jaipur
I got to see lots of apiaries in Rajastan, but was also introduced to the sad story of Indian bees and agriculture by an eighty-year-old botanist and organic activist and a West-Bengal based NGO. The news is not good. The temperatures are unusually high for winter, the rivers and ponds are dried up (and the rainy season only starts in June). The pollution in the cities is atrocious, there is trash everywhere – much of it Western, no doubt – and most shops don’t even sell coke anymore: it’s all diet Coke. That little detail says so much.
Along the road to Shanteniketan
There is a lot to tell, but let me recuperate a bit first.