Keeping it real in Delhi.

Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
Trip End Apr 06, 2009

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's always about the people. Places really cannot hold one by the soul, but the people in them are what makes the draw. With full intentions of riding out as soon as possible, having Rocinante sorted out and heading far south to Goa, where I've been offered free parking, here it is a week later, and I'm only just now leaving.
Spending most of my days with a semi-outlaw biker nomad fellow by the name of Dessie who rode in last tuesday with the dirt of the Nepal road making his face black and any of a number of other people in our little crew, I've been passing the time quite well here. Balu and Laura have given us what time they have between their frantic actions to keep the business running smoothly. Cold beers at night, and myself playing old songs on guitar, good food and coffee in the morning. Not too bad. I have been given the dubious distinction in the Bullet wallas as being the official (at least at the moment) "music walla," and with such a good audience as company, it is hard to refuse requests.
I have made real friends here, ones that have an interest in common, the Royal Enfield, and the driving of such in this chaotic but endearing country. I have even gotten my leather vest with my club "colors" on the back, generally causing the mild mannered to cross to the other side of the street when they see me coming, especially when we walk in pairs or more.
Nice to be in a gang.
So now I have really had to think out my plans--Goa is a fair distance from here, maybe 5 days ride, but the wallas have an affiliated "ranch" in Udaipur, only some 500 kilometers distant on the fringe of Rajastan which offers storage and even maintenance. I have been to Goa and Maharashtra, but not Rajastan, so the option of closer storage and less of a train ride back to delhi to make my flight seems the most sensible. Besides, Rajastan is the land of most wonderful photo opportunities, and I feel as though I need to see something new. So at 4 in the morning or so tomorrow I'm hitting the road at last. Should be a good 10 days or so. Fresher air will also be most welcome, as the Delhi cough seems to get worse every morning.
Next report may be in a few days at the earliest--I've got to find a place to hole up for "holi" which comes on friday. Holi involves hordes of people, mostly men, going crazy in the streets and throwing colored powder and dye over anything and anyone that moves. Kind of fun maybe, but it can still turn fairly dangerous, as can any large gathering of people in India. They are a bit excitable in such scenes. I half had the thought to cover myself with baby oil (so they dye will not stain the skin), step out in a brand new white pyjama suit and proclaim myself the target. Still might happen, but they tell me this could also be dangerous. We shall see, but in any case, I can't travel on friday, and so hope to be in Bikaner, Pushkar, or some such other exotic desert locale.
Haven't seen a heck of a lot new here in Delhi, but I have found the best places for cheap food, I can get a beer anywhere at any time, and know many people on the street both western and indian. We sit in the middle of the street at what we have dubbed the "magic table," and watch the freaks go by.

A number of occurrences have been a bit freaky by the way. . . a couple of days ago, the Eunuchs came to town. Shopkeepers and shoppers alike shy away from these ball-less wonders for a couple of reasons. First, they demand money which if not paid leads to the whole colorful crew dancing in front of the shop for hours, driving away business with a curse that lingers long after they have moved on.
The second thing is that the Eunuchs are considered to be very powerful and can bring bad luck down on anyone that dares to refuse them. I guess if someone chopped off your nuggets, you might just have a chip on your shoulder as well.
We have been lucky enough, or unlucky enough to see the eunuchs every day, drumming dancing and generally raising a ruckus on the 'ganj every afternoon for the last few ladies. Not too attractive, these "ladies," but don't tell them I said so, I'm cursed with enough bad luck as it is.
Saw a dead man yesterday. Down at the Coconut Place (conneaught place really, but "coconut" sounds funnier), we happened to see a crowd of people and a couple of policemen. Walking by required that we step around in the street, and there was an older businessman looking fellow, a hankerchief over his face with the characteristic yellow pallor of a corpse, his stiff fingers already giving way to rigor mortis. Dessie and I agreed that this must have been some sort of heart attack or such, as if he had been hit by a car, there would have been blood. Hell of a way to go, on the sidewalk during rush hour. Perhaps he was the lone shopkeeper who dared defy the eunuchs. . .

Not all that much else to report, some pictures of the roof on a once and current mosque, which is converted half into a guesthouse in which my Kiwi friend stays. Crazy place. Take a look at the pictures yourself, and I hope that keeps you occupied until such a time as I can make another installment. .
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