Some Like It Hot
well, i’ve been in the sultry south for a week now and i can’t help writing about two dominant factors in every day life: the heat and left hand driving.
the last time we came south in 2008 I had a meltdown (figuratively and physically) and insisted that we move to a location that provided some AC space. Joseph says the heat invigorates him and it pretty much does the opposite to me. I can’t think, I can’t decide what I want to eat or do, it takes enormous amount of energy to be civil (forget about being cheerful), and I have little energy.
but…if i have access to a shower – for a quick drop of body temperature – and an AC room – to kick back in and regain my usual cheerful nature – I can handle the heat. (well, kinda!) it speaks volumes about how much I love this place – that I would endure this environment.
i have found the groove of how fast (or slow) to walk, so that the small amount of wind created by my walking offsets the heat generated by the activity of walking. if I can keep that perfect pace i can walk for a long time. but …. the moment i stop – the slight wind stops and the heat is still in the body and then i am drenched in sweat and slowly getting hotter by the moment. that, as you can imagine, makes it hard to shop/think/speak/calculate.
fans are a life saver. right now as I am typing, I am sitting under a whirling fan and that is the only reason i can stay here. the power sometimes goes off and then i have to leave after about 20 minutes. Once in awhile i come across AC in a shop – and oh! I can stay there forever!
such is my life – in and out of the shower, and searching for a fan! (and eating the best fruit in the world, swimming in fantastic Arabian Sea, hanging out with Joseph, David and Kelley, shopping for spices, shawls, the perfect fresh lime soda.) lots of time to meditate, relax and rejuvenate.
Some Like It Left
And then there is the whole left hand driving thing. First of all, you would be hard pressed to tell which side of the road people are supposed to be driving on as everyone and everything (bicycles, bikes, rickshaws, pony carts, trucks, buses etc) drives wherever they can find a space. but as a pedestrian it is imperative to know which way to look first and which way is where a car is going to come zipping around and right into you. did I mention there a no sidewalks?
that is really what makes the walking really interesting, dangerous, and a great way to practice mindfulness! when I walk I am walking – not day dreaming, planning, ruminating…..thank you Thich Nhat Hanh.
many many times, others who are near me have touched me gently on the arm as they sense I am about to step out into the street, because they know that i will be walking right into traffic and looking the other/wrong way. Indians are gentle – Joseph has jerked me right off my feet – to save my hide. thank you Joseph!
it is such an automatic thing that we are unaware of – that as we step out to cross even a small street, we look right first. this has been ingrained into us since we could walk and reinforced probably millions of times in our life time. And since we do a lot of walking here (everywhere – miles a day) this little tactic of looking left first is quite important and lifesaving.
one saving grace is that because everything is so ‘full’ on the street, the speed is very slow. and i believe the drivers are incredibly adept, alert and skilled. I imagine ‘westerners’ cause many accidents by their unaware walking. what I sense when I look at the flow on the street is that everyone is in-tune with their surroundings, who is going where, how fast they are moving, what to expect.
we saw a sign that said “Dashing is dangerous”. hmm… wonder what that means. then as Joseph and I were getting ready (i.e. screwing up our courage) to cross a busy street (6 lanes of madness) a rickshaw driver shouted out – no dashing!
Oh! i get it. just move slowly and deliberately. do not stop, do not rush, do not do anything unexpected (i.e. retreat or alter direction in the middle) and everything will be fine. Everyone coming our direction will see us and expect us to keep moving slowly across the lanes. and it works! which is so different from say Victoria where people do dash and walk/dash helter skelter through the traffic to reach the other side. So now we remember – dashing is dangerous!