Photos and words by David Lesh

Although I was born in

Chicago, I spent the first six years of my life living in India (see

previous blog entry for photos of me as a kid). Although my mom now

lives in India, I have not been back since I was young, and this summer

felt like a good time to reconnect with my childhood roots. So we

bought tickets for our six week trip around all of India and Nepal.

My

girlfriend Allison and I traveled a bit with my mom and sister, then a

bit alone, and now we are traveling with my best friend Zac and his

girlfriend Joan.

The view of Manhattan as we fly in Newark for our layover.

After

arriving in Mumbai (Bombay) and walking out into the madness that is

India, we hired a car and driver and made our way through the mountains

to the town of Pune, about 4 hours away. Indians drive like they all

have death wishes. Our driver played a deadly game of cat and mouse the

entire way there.

The next morning we walked around and took in the culture.

The

next day, we hopped into the tumtum (larger rikshaw) and then a jeep to

make our way up to Singhgarh Fort, also known as The Lion Fort.

We made our way down through the mist.

Then we went off trail to explore some handmade ancient caves. India is full of caves like this.

This is the system they use to bring things up to the fort, a little zip line dangling over the valley.

Here

we are in the tumtum on the way back. There are 2 more people in there

that you can't see, making a total of 12 full grown adults in one

rikshaw. They really know how to pack em' in.

The following day we set out to find Pataleshwar Cave, in Pune.

They carved this cave, temple, and structure out of one solid piece of bedrock. No room for error.

After taking our shoes off, we ventured around it's caverns.

Although

leprosy is a completely curable disease, a lot of Indians choose to

wait for a few body parts to fall off before seeking (free) treatment

so they can make a living begging. This woman was just missing her

digits, some are missing legs, arms, ears, noses, etc.

Since homosexuality is against the law here, some choose to become almost a "third" sex. Transvestites are a common site.

We

had 2 weeks to travel around the North West before Zac and Joan

arrived, so we hopped a sleeper train to Delhi. While we were on the

train, we found out that a number of terrorist bombings that killed

dozens of people had occurred in the very places we planned on seeing

and staying that day. One day earlier and I may not have been able to

write this blog entry.

All

kinds of parasite infested food to be had in India. I can't even

imagine what it would be like to eat clean food again. We have all been

really sick in one way or another since we arrived. I was really sick

this morning with all the symptoms of Malaria. If I continue to show

these symptoms I'll have to find some ghetto clinic to run a blood test

to see what strain I have and if it's curable.

After arriving in Delhi, we grabbed some food on a rooftop restaurant.

India is very neat and orderly, as you can tell from this array of electrical wires. Looks safe to me!

The next day we grabbed a cycle rikshaw and headed to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque.

Then we climbed the tallest spire for a 360 degree view of Delhi.

Remember

the picture above of the electrical wires? Well I guess they like to

explode pretty regularly, who would have thought? This electrical

explosion lit up an entire city block with flame and smoke.

Indian's

think that all white people are celebrities, and just can't wait to

take their picture with you all the time. We gave in this time since we

were trapped at the top of the spire while we waited for the monsoon

storm to end.

Since

we arrived just at the end of the monsoon season, flash floods occur at

least once a day, turning the streets into rivers of sewage and trash.

This was a friendly fellow.

To

our dismay, we discovered that there were still a few bombs set to blow

that had not been found in Delhi. We rolled the dice as we finished up

our trip there.

The

above entry was all within a week's time, so expect a lot more India

content. I'll post another entry soon about Jaipur and Agra. I write

this from Varanasi, about 50 feet away they are burning bodies around

the clock on the Ganga river. More on this later...


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