Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Indian Safari

After only 4 hours of sleep we awoke early in the morning to venture out into the Indian wilderness. We were in search of tigers, elephants, and whatever else we could find. We wanted that perfect photo. The one worh a thousand words. The photo of something that people back home had never seen. This... is our story....

5:00 am. Joe and Mia sleep on the couch in the hotel lobby while they wait for the jeep to arrive. The hotel manager is angry about losing his spot on the couch (where he was sleeping) and awakens them to say, "If you just want to sleep, you should go back to your room."

6:00 am. The journey begins!

6:30am. The first animal we spot is the mysterious and majestic Blue Cow. It looked like a horse cow to me. A blue horse cow.

Mia! Look at this Blue Horse Cow! Oh.

7:00 am. Next we spot what was described to us as "the female Blue Cow." It is not blue. I could not tell if it was female from my vantage point, but I trusted our guide . I trusted him to not only provide me with accurate information about fauna, but to save my life should one of the fauna attack!

7:45 am. Joe goes for a pleasant stroll through the flood planes and steps over large chunks of wild elephant evidence while scouting for more animals.

Joe sees.... A wild peacock! They are everywhere!

Mia come out and look at this wild Peacock! Mia?

8:30 am. We press on through the misty jungles despite increasing rain and darkening skies. We can't stop yet. We still need that perfect shot. Something powerful, beautiful and original.

9:45 am. Mia finally wakes up and says, "That safari was boring."(true story). The group hikes up into a blind and scans the land. There there! Over in those bushes! Hand me the camera!

Finally we see something worth photographing. The safari is a success!

Haridwar - Holy city on the Ganges

A guru type surveys his land. The land... is called India.

The monsoons have started early here because of global warming. The streets all flood and anyone unlucky enough to have to travel takes their life in their hands. Though the water isn't that deep the government opens all the manholes to help with the flooding. If you don't know where they are you can fall in or drive your motorcycle/ bicycle into one and die. This is not a joke. We saw one motorcycle go over and people die every time it rains.

A sign at a highway rest stop.

A farmer takes a moment to proudly pose with his grain during a freeway traffic jam.

If you decorated your cattle car like this in America it might be considered tacky or unique, but here it just blends in.

Joe, Mia and Marla on a bridge over the holy Ganges river. It is expected that any time a person dies in India their family brings their ashes to this river and deposits them in the water.

Children play in a poop filled park. The smell here was atrocious. I could barely keep from throwing up. I kept breathing through my nose though because I didn't want any of that smell in my mouth. The smells here can switch instantly from the worst smell to the best in only a matter of feet, which makes you notice them all the more.

Tent homes set up along the river.

Two teens race each other into the river.

An Indian man sits down for a rest. Everywhere you look in Haridwar this type of man can be found. The style is the same but they run the full range of personality types: from giving off an aura of being truly enlightened to giving off the smell of being completely stoned.

Women crowd around a cart full of mangos.

Joe strips down to jump into the Ganges. They say anyone who fully submerges in the holy river will have of their sins washed away. You trade the cleanliness of your body for the cleanliness of your soul. I got a tiny bit of the water in my mouth and it tasted like icecream.

Joe and his friend Naresh pose after a swim in the Ganges. Joe felt under dressed without a denim vest and denim capri pants on.

Joe gathers a crowd on the banks of the Ganges. Perhaps he should release a Joe Pagac calendar here. It may be a big hit.

Joe is getting used to being held by skantily clothed, little brown men now. It doesn't even phase him.

A tiny shrine set up in the street.

Everything is so colorful in India that it is hard to concentrate on anything you are looking at.

These ladies made me wait to take their photo until they all had their sticks in their hands.

A starving man lays dying in the street. No joke here.

Mia, Isabelle and Cecile pose with a group of locals. In the west we say, "Smile!" In India they say, "HEY! Look serious!"

Surplus wrappers for candy and cola are sold as blankets and raincoats for the very poor. It makes it so hard to walk around without getting hungry. It can be uncomfortable to find one's self saying, "Hmmmm, I haven't had Double Stuffed Oreos in a while..." as a rain soaked, mostly naked man walks by wearing a sheet of the wrappers.

Skittles. Taste the rainbow.

A motley crew of temple-goers marches past. Check out the sunglasses on the guy in the back.

Our driver pulls the land cruiser over and blocks 3 lanes of highway traffic so he can stand in the street and enjoy a fresh roasted cob of corn.