The Belly of the Beast

Selling aquarium fish in bottles of yellow water

(Greg) India is sensory explosion: the colors, smells and sounds smash together in a whirling chaos that is hypnotic, magnetic and, at times, frightening. A few of us were frightened yesterday.

On our way to visit the great Muslim mosque in Old Delhi, we passed the Sunday Market. It was a mass of mostly men pushing and shouting, selling shoes and shirts, buying food from vendors with small carts.  This mass spilled off the sidewalk and into the street where passing traffic squeezed it and agitated it and added a constant soundtrack of blaring horns. Five of us were happy to watch it behind the safety of our van windows.  Dana said, “lets go in there later!” So we did.

Our guide was surprised but intrigued by our interest and courage. He instructed us to hold onto our cameras and bags, be conscious of pickpockets and stay close together in a line that he would lead. Dana and I would be last in line to insure that no ducklings got lost in the teeming crowd.

Men catch sight of the blondes

Being last in line gave me the chance to witness the wonder and fear on some of the kids’ faces as we pushed into the beast and especially as strange characters approached: the slightly crazy man who kept warning us of the dangers of the market, the younger men ogling my two blond women, the woman with the baby in her arms tugging on my shirt for money, the Sikh monk dressed in colorful robes carrying a spear who, seeing we were frightened at his approach, immediately spread a beaming smile across his face and proclaimed “hello there!”

This was real India: energy, noise, color, the pulsing, sometimes overwhelming exterior that belies the warmth and welcome of what lies beneath.

At the end of our walk we were whisked quickly back into the van. Back in the quiet safety of our cocoon, one child began to cry, overwhelmed by the sensory explosion.  Another said she was clutching her camera so tightly that her hand was sore. Dana was elated, “that was awesome and two guys pinched my butt!” Another great day for the 6 explorers.

The Sikh Monk with spear

Andrew overwhelmed

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3 Responses to “The Belly of the Beast”

  1. Carter Wilcox 28. Feb, 2011 at 4:18 am

    It sounds like you had an instant imergence. Like jumping in to a freezing pool. Now it will be easy for the rest of your time in India though. Have fun, stay safe, and watch out for monkeys.
    Manjit our guide said: “Do not wear sunglasses or shiny things near the monkeys; or they will climb on your head, steal your sunglasses, and slap you!!!”

    Enjoy India and have fun bargaining and shopping,


  2. have they taken about a TRILLION pictures of you when you aren’t looking? our faces are all over India yours will probibly be too!!

  3. Surely sounds like India, you dived right. Dana you are one crazy woman…i love your parting comment. Enjoy the less crazy parts of India as well. Have fun all of you!!!