Hot and crowded, noisy, mayhem in the streets. Toddlers begging with big eyes and filthy faces, already expert at tugging at visitors’ hearts. There are cows everywhere. Three-wheeled rickshaws with open sides and no seat belts. Dust. Music. Monkeys. And camels! Not to mention colors not found in nature, like the woman above, crossing the road in a fire-orange sari matching the blooms over her head.
It is another world, here.
We arrived late yesterday: Vietnam to Signapore, Singapore to Mumbai and a connecting flight to Ahmedebad filled mostly with Bill’s students from Yale’s SOM, here for a two-day conference at IIT. After we arrived, we had less than an hour to get settled (read “showered”) and we were whisked off by bus to an organic farm, about 90 minutes outside the city, an initiative of Sewa, which has been around since the early 1970s and is an amazing organization created by and for women.
We were greeted by the head of the farm, India’s answer to Alice Waters, who was utterly charming: she, in turn, introduced some of the local women running things there. We were served amazing home-grown food, including what our children report to be possibly the best chai tea on the planet. Later, they introduced another young woman as their IT expert. It is hard to explain what it was like, sitting there under this incredible starry sky, in the middle of the forest in India, watching a video being run from a laptop and narrated by a beautiful barefoot woman in a sari. But that is what we did.
Quite a first day here in this magical place. And did I mention the goats?
Later, we watched the many channels on Indian TV which boast plentiful amounts of music videos — some leaning toward Bollywood, others a throwback to the 1980s, complete with big hair and padded shoulders. Soap operas appear popular here, and are worth watching just for the clothes. Ditto the musical variety shows. Tomorrow, we move to the guest house at the National Institute of Design, where we’ll stay put for a few weeks. More anon.