ROAD TRIP, INDIA-STYLE
Today's Vocabulary Words:
Lungi or dhoti = A lungi is a long sarong worn by men and often paired with a button-down shirt. A dhoti is a lungi that's pulled up between the legs.
Salwaar Kameez = long dress worn with a matching shawl over baggy pants.
Hair Dresses = barbershop
Gaur ("gore") = Wild bovine creature that resembles a fat, muscular buffalo
Sambar = large, muscular deer (not to be confused with the lentil sambar that's eaten wtih iddly)
Ha-NAY = Kannada for elephant
Tusker = male elephant
Ma-LAY = Kannda for rain
Chandon = sandalwood
Madame = crazy lady wearing a poncho and driving a scooter in the rain
Since 2002, I've spent eight months in India.
But it wasn't until this weekend that I actually *relaxed* in India.
For a moment, anyway.
I'm far too wrecked to write much now, but the 80 km trip to and from the jungle was on scooters over newly-paved roads that wove through villages and very green countryside dotted with fields where cotton and goats are grown.
And where men in dhotis and turbans hang out at the chai stalls and talk.
While not tending to the goats.
While the women carry things to and fro on their heads.
And tend to goats.
And to the men.
The last bit of the trip to the lodge was bit dodgy, over a muddy and pockmarked track that required some serious two-wheeling skills. But Matrika on her Scooty Hog and I on my more powerful Honda Activa made it in two pieces.
We both drove in salwaar kameezes, plus I wore a lovely filigree necklace and bangles -- with my helmet and bright-orange poncho.
Of course it rained during the trip. Monsoon is here, Madame.
Apparently Sharath has spent some time at the Water Woods resort on the Kabini River, where we stayed. It's actually a home, but the owners were out of town. Rumor had it that some Second Series Students (these would be the seniors and AP students, if the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute were a high school) were going there with him this weekend. These students were also privy to the puja at Guruji's village last weekend. But they didn't show, which meant more food for us....
We were greeted by a lovely staff and sweet, milky South Indian coffee and an airy, exquisite home -- where we were the weekend's only visitors.
After a nap and chai we were taken on a jeep safari through the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (aka Nagrahole) with two spotters and the cook's new wife and brother. Apparently the couple married last month. No word on dowry.
We saw birds, sandalwood, bamboo, rosewood, teak, several types of deer, guar, other jeeploads of (all Indian) tourists and of course ELEPHANTS. Plenty of elephants. As we drove we all scanned the forest for signs of wildlife but the two spotters -- one of whom was driving -- did all the work. Suffice to say they found a group of elephants -- three cows and a calf that stuck close to its mother -- that we sat and watched some time. These were Indian elephants, big and dark gray with the small ears. As with fishing, we had to be very quiet (I was actually shusshed at one point, much to my embarassment). Other jeeps (all Indians, no westerners) came and went. It got darker. Mosquitoes started coming. But the waiting paid off when the quartet ran out of whatever it was they were eating and crossed the road right in front of us. If technology ever becomes my friend -- and I sense it will, soon -- I'll post the video I took. Amazing. Real live elephants, in the wild.
And they didn't even attack us.
PART II of Caca's Safari Adventure tomorrow....
Pictures are also coming.
In five minutes only....
....Or at least after tomorrow's led primary series class, where the documentary crew will be a-filming our yoga practice.
I'm off now to wardrobe, and then the stylist.
Because you never can look too fat or too haggard at 5AM Indian Standard Time.