Aug 20, 2015


I left Portland Wednesday morning-- it was two hours before sunrise Friday morning when my cursing Bombay cab driver finally found Hotel Popular Palace and I began banging on the guest house's roll down metal door. Late Saturday morning I emerged from a migraine stupor to discover that I had a room with a view (1st pic below) and that it was Independence Day here in India (2nd pic). Sunday, I began an equally long train ride down along India's west coast to the state of Kerala.

Facing me across the aisle of the train's cramped sleeping compartment, a rough-hewn blind man held hands with his best friend. The rest of the sleeping berth swirled with that rich deep shade of orange that in India symbolizes renunciation because the four successful middle aged Bombay lawyers filling up those spots are on a pilgrimage vacation. They are fasting until they complete a monsoon-drenched barefoot trek through a Kerala forest to the shrine at Sabarimala. As it says in my guidebook, "The pilgrimage symbolizes the struggle of the individual soul… [and] The path of the spiritual is always long, arduous and hazardous." I suppose riding in this third class non air conditioned sleeping car for 36 hours may be another of their "austerities."

Sunday night, lying on my sleeping platform in the dark in that rattling and rain pelted train car, I quickly lost consciousness by imagining that I was being rocked to sleep in the arms of Mother India.

Now, it's early Thursday morning and I see, veiled in the mist like an Arabian maiden, the rolling green hills of a tea plantation. 

I've been busy with logistical chores in preparation for photographing the Onam festival. Now here I am in a guest house in Munnar, with my tablet connected to the internet for the first time since I left Portland. Or, to put it another way, it's been more than a week since I've heard anything about Donald Trump.

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