Tuesday, September 28, 2010

two wheels in beawar

When Prati and I both lived in New London a few years back, we had a nice symbiosis in our relationship: she fed me and I drove her places. She didn't learn how to drive until adulthood, whereas there were already many, many years between me and those times I drove into the garage door frame and over my brother's heel. Plus, agreeing to drive Prati to the supermarket most always worked in my favor.

The only time she drove us, she was visibly pregnant with Cayden as she non-nonchalantly ran a red light by the mall in Waterford. When the police pulled us over, she explained that the light turned yellow quickly and she was not willing to stop short and risk the seat belt impact harming the baby. The officer let us go.

Fast forward to this week. We're staying in her mom's house in Beawar, Rajasthan, full of cows, water filtered in clay pots and trash tossed out windows. At her mom's, everyone eats and prepares food on the floor, hand-washes clothes and doesn't blink when the power flickers at random intervals. And when we want to go out, to drink hot milk warmed for hours in fire-heated cauldrons or bring Cayden to a daycare, we travel there the local way, on Prati's late father's moped, she driving, me in back, and Cayden sandwiched in the middle.

It's terrifying, trusting one's welfare to a rickety bike and a friend with a... questionable... driving record on roads that are often unpaved and lack discernible rules. (In India, people honk to alert pedestrians they're about to be run over, to express impatience, to navigate blind curves and to create impromptu passing lanes.) Further, in this out-of-the-way locale, two tall women--one white and both dressed in Western clothes--create a stir wherever we go; ratchet that up every time we put in an appearance on the moped, dodging cows, auto rickshaws and men hauling carts full of produce.

More on Beawar ASAP, I hope; for now, we're off for lassis!

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