Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Epilogue: Signs and Wonders

As most of you know by now, I've been back since April 4th. I spent a few weeks acclimatizing at my mother’s middle-class home on Virginia’s Atlantic coast, which seemed fit for a maharaja with its clean walls, hot water, mange-free dogs, soft, broad beds, and steady, ample servings of familiar food. After nearly 2 years continuously away from a neighborhood that I never called home in the first place, those evenly spaced houses, well maintained roads and wide-isled shops were as hard to believe as the rickety chaos I had just left behind.

My jet-lag was pretty bad. I couldn't stop talking long enough to sleep for the first two days, and then I couldn't move for the second two. Also, it snowed on the day of my arrival, and I was constantly shivering for a week.

But I finally adjusted to the time and temperature.

During the 7 weeks since my return, I have often been asked how it feels to be back, and the thing that I try to express is something I’ve found delightful and unexpected: even though I'm back in my country of origin, I still have the momentum of travel. The adventure continues, and this just happens to be a different episode. Since my 2 weeks in suburbia, I’ve been to Charlottesville, Staunton, and Blacksburg, Virgina, as well as DeKalb, Illinois and Port Washington, Wisconsin, and I've finally landed in Brooklyn, dog in tow. I spent 2 weeks camping on a friend’s floor before Talia and I found an apartment, and I’m still pretty much sans furniture.

Anyhow, to wrap up this blog (this really is the LAST post EVER), I wanted to publish a file of photos that I kept along the way of things I found arrestingly funny, bizarre, or informative. There are quite a lot of odd things in NYC, too; but the ones below happen to be from south Asia.

Throughout southern India fiberglass monkeys, rabbits, and penguins patiently await (in the most irregular spots) deposits from the public.

This one disturbs me,
as does this one.

South Asia is rich in unemployed hands, so most advertisements and instructional signs are hand-painted. On top of that, people have the time to paint all over the place, with greater or lesser degrees of skill, which makes for a colorful country.


Each day as I walked by, I marveled at the man sitting patiently on a bench in front of this ad, feathering in details and gluing on actual pebbles. The following two pictures bring the writings of Ayn Rand to mind.

I don't know what this is about, which may be the reason I find it interesting.

I just like this one.

Does the mayor of London know he has a coffee shop in Kerala?

Puppy 2000 soda?


Even classier!

I'm going to let most of these speak for themselves, as they did to me.

This sign should be posted on every corner.

In India, they cover all the bases. God knows, gods must be preventing collisions constantly.

Of course, gods prefer the well-mannered.

Weird angels.

Don't ask me...

It always interests me to see how the practicalities of life are accomplished.

According to this classified ad, a teacher can expect to be paid a little over a dollar an hour.

And in India, it's not immigrants who threaten to take all those highly desirable manual labor jobs, it's animals.

This is cooking fuel, dung flattened into patties and dried in the sun.

This is how temples get painted,

and fortunes are told,

and clothing is pressed.

Who would have thought that teddy bears would make such great cricket bases.

I was flossing my teeth one night in Sri Lanka, and out popped a filling, so I found a dentist the next day.

It was a little frightening, the cluttered, improvised character of the place,

but the filling was only 5$, and it's still holding!

Sending a package from India is a long process. First you have to box your stuff, then find someone with a sewing machine.

He cuts a coarse, off-white fabric to fit your box and sews a covering, then he stitches it closed by hand,

and seals the package with wax. Finally, you can write the address and stand in line for a long time at the post office.

Coke is served in re-used, sterilized (I hope) bottles.

I'll leave you with this, a grouping that I'll never understand or forget.


Blogger Christa said...

Sometimes I distrust epilogues because they seem either a) dettached from the whole, b) too neat and packaged, or c) generally underdeveloped in comparisson to the work.
With its brevity, iconic power, and the help of your now firmly established sophistication, your epilogue avoided all these failings and is the magical end to a great piece of writing...
Yours is a beautiful blog and a beautiful journey. I love you big sis and thanks for writing this. I look forward to much more from your pen in the future.

6:56 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous steven tobin said...

don't know if you'll read this as the blog is now dead, but your brother troy pointed me in the direction of your blog, lots to take in.. love the pics of the fiberglass animal trash cans, i remember them well!

i've been to india twice and hope to get back before too long, one of these days i might post the rambling massives i emailed to friends.

not to be the annoying fact checker, but bihar is india's most impoverished state. i'd need to check up on it, but i'm pretty positive there are more northern states that are more impoverished than tamil nadu is.

this will give me something to read at work during downtown for awhile :-) hope you are doing well.

5:53 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Laura Strache said...

Hello there!
I'm heading to India (pun-jab, anyone?) in 10 days from now, which reminded me that the last I had heard from you was that you were wandering around there. Found your blog and glad to hear that you're stateside (if only for the totally selfish reason that I could see you more often).
Don't know how else to reach you (misplaced email address somewheres...) but would love to keep in touch. Please email me or call.
Laura Strache

3:22 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Desiree said...

Hey Laura, I hope you come back and check this, because I've misplaced your info, too. When I moved to NYC I tried to get in touch with you, to no avail... Leave your email address as a comment. I have to approve them before they're published, so I'll just write down your address and delete the comment. Would love to be in touch with you!

4:08 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

6:30 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)

10:21 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What curious topic

2:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This message, is matchless))), very much it is pleasant to me :)

3:58 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just saying hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

8:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!

12:42 PM GMT-5  

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