When I was in Japan, I could while away hours in 100 yen stores. Stationary, t-shirts, socks, bowls, candy bags, food wrappers, you name it–all were covered in ridiculously bad translations of English expressions, and in the 100 yen store, there were seemingly infinite bins of tear-inducing, gut-shakingly-funny mis-translations. In Japan, that made sense, but I guess I never really expected as much from India’s linguistic treasures.
Boy, was I wrong!
Forget all my PhD reading that I schlepped halfway around the world only to leave buried in the bottom of my backpack. In India, signage was the literary masterpiece of the trip.
Life moves a little more slowly in India. As an Indian American living in Dehra Dun reminded us, there is Central Standard Time…and then there is Indian Standard Time. And when you’re hanging out in the quiet towns ofUttarakhand, in winter nonetheless, life seems to whisper along.
Case in point: While in Rishikesh, we’d while away the first hour or so of our day sipping Nescafe in our hotel lobby, watching sensationalist Delhi news accounts and giggling over the matrimonial ads. Time inched along, not bothered by car horns or diesel fumes or much of anything, save a sadhu or two. Glancing up from our almost-coffees and newspapers, we’d spy a cow eating breakfast on our hotel stoop, ladies gathering for an early morning chat, delivery men desperately wishing cars were allowed in this part of town, monkeys making mischief. Life moved slowly (and dare I say: peacefully) on that Rishikesh street, aflutter with life at daybreak.
Ten minutes in the life of a Rishikesh street (including a cow who seemed to be inspired by our dawdling).
While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
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