02 September 2008

I'm so tired

So I've been tardy with my posts. But not without good reason. I've had alot on my plate these past couple of weeks. As you may know, my lovely wife Linda spent 3 weeks up in Jaipur, sometimes known as "the pink city", but actually more accurately described as the "animal-filled-dusty-seething-like-a-boiling-pot city" (the tension in the air was palpable), studying at the Chakrapani Aryuvedic Center . You may not know though that along with missing her lots, starting to cook my own food again (which was actually quite nice, when I wasn't too tired), and generally muddling through on my own - I had quite a bit of work.ut
Namely, I needed to get a significant amount of work done in order to take off some time to see her. This comprised not only getting my Microsoft research done, but also getting a major publication submission for Infocom (in Rio Di Janerio this year, fingers crossed), finishing up reviews for the CoNext Shadow Program Committee on which I'm serving, and finally taking care of several lengthy administrative tasks. So I really didn't have much spare time.

Then on the Thursday evening before last, I traveled to Jaipur to be reunited with Linda. I got to meet her wonderful friends, collegues, and her wonderful landlady.

So Thursday night we spent in Jaipur, got up early, had a wonderful breakfast, then went to Chakrapani. There I had an Aryuvedic assessment, and some interesting treatments - a neat massage, preceeded by at least half-an-hour of having hot ghee (clarified butter) poured over my forehead. I was prescribed some Aryuvedic medicines, which I'm hoping help with my acid reflux (more crossing of fingers here).

The second half of our day was a real adventure. The folks at Chakrapani (who were truly wonderful) arranged for a cab to take us sightseeing. But the cab never showed up, so after being delayed an hour, they found a patient who had wanted some business to take us around. Unfortunately, he was possibly the worst cabbie in Jaipur and a liar to boot. But I'll tell that story another time.

In the end we did see some cool stuff in Jaipur, got back a bit later than we planned, switched to a much better driver in a much better car and headed off with our friend Irene to Pushkar, the city surrounding the holy lake where it is said Brahma let a lotus petal fall and mark his spot of worship on the earth (as everyone we saw was fond of repeating "push means hand, kar mean petal" or perhaps it was the reverse, the repitition obviously was counterproductive with me ;-)

On the way there we also got to stop at the Dargar Shariff, tomb of one of the Mughals - a beautiful Mosque/Tomb and a really powerful experience (it's amazing how much cleaner the tomb was than the vast majority of the Hindu temples we've visited).

Pushkar was fantastic, such a beautiful place - it reminded me of Tzfat in Israel - something about the atmosphere of the place seemed light, holy, and a bit crumbling. Pushkar was such a breathtaking place, the entire city surrounds the lake, to the point it almost seems like it was a huge man made pool, it was perhaps one of my most favorite places in India We had some serious adventures leaving (took an overnight sleeper bus to Udaipur upon which we were the only non-Indians) but those stories are best told in person.

In Udaipur we met up with Lucy, another new and fantastic friend. We saw a Krishna festival during which human pyramids were built (more about this later as well), the palace, took a boat ride on the lake, shopped for pictures, and generally unwound (I haven't written much about this, but I've inserted 3 pictures which I hope help tell the tale).
Oh, also we bought some beautiful artwork from a really nice artist who had Israelis raving about him in Hebrew in his guest book - we are really looking forward to hanging it up when we finally return to NY!

Another overnight trip (this time 2nd class a/c sleeper train) took us to Agra where after a good nights sleep we awoke to be picked up by a very competent/honest driver and guide in a nice A/C car. We saw the Agra Fort, the Taj Mahal (as breathtaking as advertised), and the Tomb of Akbar on our way to Delhi.

Got into Delhi (it seems the further into our trip we got, the hotter it got) late and had dinner with wonderful friends Mansi and Guarav. The next morning Lin was really sick, so I had to head out by myself. Despite having the second worst driver in Northern India, I still managed to see the Baha'i Lotus Temple, the India Gate, the President's Residence (apparently the largest of any President's residence in the world), and finally made it to see the construction site of the Cervantes Institute (the Alliance Francias of Spain) in Delhi, where I met one of the many friends we made while caught in the riot in Nepal, Oscar - a scholar of Sanskrit, the human condition, and just an all-around wonderful guy. We went to a fantastic vegetarian (Oscar is also a veggie) Rajastani restaurant, where all of the food was "Rajastani ____", even if it was water ;-)
We had a great time, would have been a perfect afternoon if my idiot driver didn't fail to pick me up, leaving us to wait in the 100 degree (or what felt like it) heat for 40 minutes looking for him, w/ me stressing about getting back to help sick Linda pack and get us to the airport in time. In any case with Oscar's patient help and Mansi's as well, we got to the airport and came home.

I was so tired. Six cities in six days in serious heat over long distances was ambitious and wore me out! But I still had to get my Infocom submission done, make progress for a meeting at MSR, and finish my last CoNext review. I managed to do it all, but it's been a little while recovering. I am so grateful to have this experience though, even with all the difficulties - it's such a privilege to live here!

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