Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tidbits from the road and Helhi, I mean Delhi

On our first day walking out of Delhi (finally), I saw a group of men walking on the other side of the road. One man carried the multicolored Jain flag while a 50ish man in the center did not have a stitch of clothing. Apparently, Jains walk naked on certain highways and this rather fit man smiled broadly as he walked down the highway, his junk flopping in the wind. I pointed him out to our fun and easily embarrassed nurse who has become one of my best friends here. She looked and turned away when she realized the situation. With a grin I asked, “How did that make you feel, from a purely journalistic perspective of course?” With a giant smile and only a trace of embarrassment she paused for a second and said ,”It was awful.”

At night, I had a reputation for disappearing or sleeping in some random spot on top of a roof. I just like being alone when I sleep. Especially because the monks get up far too early and keep shouting “Lax!” until I’m out of bed. I need 7 minutes maximum to go from bed to stuff loaded on the truck, breakfast in my stomach and ready to march. I dislike being woken up an hour before we leave. My friend Tenzin, a similarily disciplined guy who spent time in the army, feels the same way. Now, we spend our late nights wandering around the outskirts of the camp looking for a spot to hide for the night. It’s one of the highlights of my day as we slowly search, setup our little camp and settle down for the night, talking all of the time. Last night he said, “When we part, I will be missing you much. Even when I’m in my own home, I will be going outside saying ‘Lax’ and looking for a place to sleep.” I’ll be doing the same.

We got to do some nice cultural events in Delhi thanks to Time Out Delhi. We saw a reading from Woody Allen’s books, two movies about art in Nazi Germany and art in the Tibetan exile (which I missed from my only slight sickness of the trip) and went to the National Gallery of Modern Art for Raghu Rai’s interesting photos of India. On the way home from the museum, we had Leanne from Scotland, Marayla from Poland and Tenzin the nurse from Tibet. Everyone knew the words to “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” but nobody joined me when I sang “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” Leanne introduced me to the Scottish version called “You Can’t Push Your Granny Off the Bus”.

While catching a ride recently, Leanne and I got picked up by a truck with three smiling guys who offered us cigarettes and then settled into companionable silence. Then the driver heard a noise and ordered one of the young lackeys to swing out the door while the truck kept moving to check underneath. The lackey saw leaking oil so they pulled over to fix it. You could tell that were proud of their skill in the repair and justifiably so. I enjoy watching people good at their job, no matter what it is.

The driver removed the gear shift knob so they could remove the middle seat cushion from the queen sized bed that formed the cab of the truck. Underneath, a removable metal hump covered the engine and they removed this as well. They placed both of those large pieces outside the truck and took off the small length of plastic tubing connecting a metal oil line to the engine head. Various pieces for repair appeared magically out of small compartments throughout the truck. They used a candle to slightly melt a small piece of plastic tubing to form the connection again and then wrapped it tight with copper from an electric cord that they stripped with their teeth. They finally covered the whole thing with electrical tape and started the truck. It didn’t leak and the driver flashed us a big grin as the lackeys swung the bed back into place and we started off. The whole repair took less than ten minutes.


Ned said...

Oh Friend of All the World, I loved your story about Tenzin.

Anonymous said...

agreed. this made me really pretty pleased:

“When we part, I will be missing you much. Even when I’m in my own home, I will be going outside saying ‘Lax’ and looking for a place to sleep.”