Labors of India (Location: New Delhi, India)

“Oshi, please. Uncle is waiting for us.”

I am sitting in a renovated immigration hall experiencing way too much time.

“Oshi, please!”

The lines are getting smaller, people shuffling, waiting.  A woman beside me shoos her young daughter away as she kneels on white marble, scribing black letters on an Arrival Card.

She finishes. Mother and daughter leave for an Uncle.

I’m in India; an India seemingly small compared to the first time I was arrived.  Over a year ago, I was intimidated to be in this massive democracy, a planet unto itself with flavors, scents, terrain and more diversity.  But today it appears minuscule after the other countries and cultures.

Planes unload their passengers.  Paces quicken.

On my plane, there sat a young British woman from the Gatwick area of London.  She was in India on work and explained she was part of a human resources company preparing a presentation at the University of Delhi.  The company was recruiting employees and those hired would be trained in London before returning to work at their Delhi offices.

Lines fill again.  Customs is full of Germans.  Their voices drown out over the CD skipping through the speakers.  Between the scratches, the music is something like an electronic Peruvian flute, and as time lingers, I see people moving to the rhythm.  Germans sway.  A woman in a purple sari trails her lace scarf.  It catches a breath and flutters to the melody.

As she rounds a metal pole forming the orderly maze of security, her luggage follows closely.  Suddenly, it cuts too close, rises over the aluminum base and tips over.  The music stops.

Apparently Hong Kong arrived, but I see no Chinese. If the flight exists, I’m expecting to observe pairs of backpackers and hoards of tourist groups—name tags, color-coordinated luggage plates—walking in circles.

My plan is to catch a 7:20AM train, the 2031 Shabati Express to Amritsar.  Currently, it’s 2:30AM and my desire to wander the New Delhi Railway Station at this hour is nonexistent.  So this large room suites me well.  I’ll stay until the uniformed workers decide to kick me out.

Hours later I discover the Shabati is booked.  Next available train is on the seventh—four days.  I forgo my plans; find a room and crash, sleeping for over twelve hours before checking out in the afternoon.  I head to Paharganj of New Delhi and before I’m awake I’m on a bus to McLeod Ganj.  The destination looms distant.  It will take fourteen hours.  I have no seat, only a front cabin bench beside the driver.

Sitting on top bags, my limbs quickly fall asleep as cold winter air flushes into a cracked window. One after another, the driver smokes his beedis as day turns to night.  The bus climbs into the Himalayas and behind the blaring Indian music, I can hear the roar of the engine and passengers in the back vomiting out windows.  Shortly, I join the ranks.

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