Katherine Russell Rich’s tale weaves the reader in and out of the mysteries that are India while giving analytical knowledge of the way humans learn language. As Rich dives into her life in India we are a part of her linguistical successes but more importantly her social failures. Dreaming in Hindi explores the mundane along with the extraordinary. While she discusses her Hindi school and at times the finer points of linguistics, the real story is her day to day life. One comes to understand the cultural misunderstanding between Rich and her Jain hosts, which leads her to find new accommodations. Rich competes in a Pageant of sorts for foreigners, teaches art at a school for the deaf, experiences political upheaval and makes friends along the way. The book is a though provoking page turner as Rich shows us what delving into a new culture and language can teach us about ourselves.
I am a huge planner. I like to plan everything. I need a loose plan, so I have got an idea of what I am going to do and how much money I need. A few days ago I purchased my Ticket to India. 🙂 Now I have the dates I will be there. I arrive in Mumbai September 2, 2015 and return home October 29, 2015. The best part is I got a super great deal on the ticket, under a thousand dollars!
Since booking the plane ticket I have gotten to work figuring out the train schedules. I feel like they are the safest way to travel long distances in India (have you seen IRT: Deadliest Roads?). Drivers really do approach the road in that way in India. Once in Mumbai, my taxi driver missed a right hand turn. No, he did not go around the block or make a U-turn at the next intersection. He just threw the car in reverse! I love India 🙂
Here is my tentative plan. Arrive in Mumbai and go shopping at the Cotton Cottage. I am going to be in Udaipur from September 5 to October 5. Then head to Jaipur for a couple of days. Next head to Agra, and finally see the Taj Mahal. Then a short trip to Khajuraho, to see the famous Hindu temples with carvings of sexual acts. From Khajuraho, I will go to Varanasi and explore this very old and traditional city. Then take the train to Delhi, switch to a bus to Rishikesh and take in this hippie town. Then back down to Delhi for the Delhi Photography Festival. And Lastly, return to Mumbai.
Now I still need to get that pesky Typhoid vaccination.
May 2009. First stop Mumbai and Hotel Suba Palace. We arrived in India under the cover of darkness and jet lagged. Even though I had never left the North American continent, I was traveling with three seasoned travelers. Two of which had spent a considerable amount of time in India. We collected our luggage and made our way to customs. This being the height of the Swine Flu epidemic, there was a doctor in customs asking questions and taking temperatures (up to that point they had not had a case of swine flu in India).
Once we made it through customs we headed towards the exit. First stopping to exchange money. I guess we made a fair trade. It was late and I have never had good math skills. I still have the receipt they gave me. Then just before the sliding glass doors there was a pre-paid taxi stand. My professor and her husband got us a taxi and we walked through the doors.
Heat washed over my body. There was a courtyard of sorts, surrounded by railing. It was filled with men and women there to greet family and friends. We moved through the bodies and found our taxi, piling in while the drive put our bags in the trunk. I remember driving through the parking lot, full of Ambassador taxi’s and traveling out under a small metal bridge onto the dark Mumbai streets (I wonder if this memory is an accurate account).
In the darkness, the edges are softened. My only other memory of this journey is a street corner with a yellow sign. Hotel Suba Palace is in Colaba just off a main road. The hotels entrance is cramped. It is a landing and then you walk up a flight of stairs to get to reception. One or two bellmen greeted us and helped carry the bags. My memory is gone. It returns in the hotel room. It includes all western comforts. Except a shower curtain. I am sharing the room with the other graduate student. We take turns using the shower and I am ready for bed. It is late probably between 4 and 5 am. We have to be downstairs for breakfast at 9 am. (As I have been told the best way to combat jet lag is to just get up.) My roommate wants to continue reading her Harry Potter book, she asks if the light with bother me. No, into my teenage years I slept with a light on. I pass out.
We spent three more nights in that cozy hotel. On each of those three mornings this cute black bird’s squawking woke me up at 5:30 am. It set the tone for the rest of my trip. There was only one other day on the trip that I slept past 5:30 and I was not feeling well. I would wake up, with no alarm clock around 5:30, read part of Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami (once I reached the end of the book, I would just start over from the beginning. No telling how many times I read it), take a shower, and once the sun was up I would go outside. I never strayed far from where we were staying, but who wants to be cooped up when their in another country.
On the last morning at Hotel Suba Palace, I decided I should photograph my little alarm clock. I did not know at the time that the bird was reconfiguring my brain so that I would wake up every morning at the same time for three weeks. Now I have this photograph framed in a very ornate frame, I can see it from my bed.
Diwali is the Indian holiday meaning festival of lights. I have never been in India for Diwali but I have been to a Diwali celebration in Dallas. I plan to go again this year. Its a fun holiday for people as they get new cloths and jewelry. People give presents to friends and family and puja’s are performed for Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. I wonder if any Bangladeshi’s celebrate Diwali?
The tour guide did e-mail me back 🙂 My one concern was that he would not want to ride on the bus with us to Sonargoan (the regions original capital). However, he said it was fine. Now I just have to make more concrete plans with him like the specific days and such. I told him we wanted to do one day of Puran (old) Dhaka and one day in Sonargoan. Now to decide the order of importance of things in Puran Dhaka. I want to go to Bicycle Street, ride a boat across the river, eat at Hajir Biryani, go to Dhakeshwari Temple (National Hindu Temple) and Lalbagh Fort. The fort was built by Aurangzeb’s son. Aurangzeb was the son of Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal.
I have not made it to the Taj Mahal yet. However, I have seen the Red Fort in Delhi (who’s construction was started by Shah Jahan). I have also been to Daulatabad Fort just outside Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Daulatabad was built by Aurangzeb. I guess I am on a mission to see as much Mughal architecture as possible.
Today marks three months until my mom and I head to Istanbul and then on to Dhaka! I have finally e-mailed a local tour guide. I am not sure how I feel about it. Its probably a good idea, especially since English is much less spoken in Bangladesh. My mom seems to feel better about the idea of going out with a tour guide to get the lay of the land. We will see if he responds.
Well one more thing on my to-do list checked off. We have our plane tickets and a hotel reservation (hopefully). I wont stay in any five star hotel, I am just not that kind of traveler. I found what I think is a decent local hotel (it was in the Lonely Planet guide). When I tried to book the room their website was down, so I e-mailed them. They sent me a confirmation e-mail. I will have to confirm closer to the trip!
So what is left on my to-do list for this trip? Get my Typhoid booster! Ugg…
I have been to India twice. I will elaborate on these trips on other days. I am super excited because in 3 months and 1 day my mother and I leave for Bangladesh. We have a stop over in Istanbul and will have time to have a few experiences there. Planning this trip has been interesting as my mother has never left the North American continent. It is strange for her to be relying on me to make this trip happen. She is nervous about the language barrier, which is normal. I don’t worry so much I just go with the flow. I believe in international sign language. 🙂 However, it doesn’t always work.
In addition to the Bangladesh trip in January 2015, I am headed to India for the third time in September 2015. I am an artist and have been accepted to an artist residence in Rajasthan. I will be there for a month. I am hoping to spend all of October traveling around India. We will see how my plans turn out.