she's leaving because she really wants to

I am not happy about this, but it's time...
In five hours, I board SriLankan for Heathrow.
Twelve hours later, I land in London, gawp at the white people, and hang out for three hours buying duty-free chocolate.
Then I fly to DC, where my father will tell me the latest crap to come out of the Bush administration on the way home from the airport.

As emotional states go this one is pretty pure: sorrow, loss. I'm not particularly worried or nervous about life-after-Lanka, culture shock, and the like, as I've been through it often enough. I would prefer that this were a visit home rather than a finality (of sorts); I want to go on living here. What to do. Returning to Colombo was a bittersweet relief; I feel so at home, in place. There are possibilities of all kinds for me here, the revelations of which (even just in the past two days!) make my head all wobbly.

...the rest of the India trip was fabulous, however, and kept me from brooding. Predictably, I especially enjoyed Kol Nidre at the Pardesi synagogue in Cochin, and fabric-shopping generally. Must return and visit more northerly places, though Lisa reports that on her trip (same time as mine, but in Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) she was constantly hassled and groped. Cause for a burkha. My experience was the opposite, though I did get two [very respectful] proposals.

And? Anyone whom I've not gotten to fare-thee-well, please consider it done. All the best and I'll see you as soon as I can. Anyone on the East Coast, I'll see you quite soon. Drop a line for tour dates. Much love to all.


no, thank you

...am starting to feel like a parrot, when every single person I meet tries to sell me something. Luckily (for all concerned) I am in good moods these days and therefore cheerily tweet the above rather than getting all bitchy. They are so good at the pitch, though! Amazing. Several thousand years of trade with the West and they've got me down pat: just look! student prices! free gifts! no commissions! etc etc. At one point today a guy just kept pestering and so I had to put on Angry Voice (for dogs and children, generally) and draw myself up to my full Angry Size and, you know, stop the madness.

Damn, the clerk in this Satyam I Way is totally hogging the fan. Brain melting.

The dodgy juice stands are a wonderful frequent treat but I wish I could figure out how to tell them no salt and very little sugar. Every lime juice tastes like a rehydration potion, which is like warm concentrated Gatorade.

Not much to say as I'm totally amidst the sightseeing crush. Madurai is cram-jam full of shops, touts, etc; it feels like triumph to get some sights seen at all! Also have done lots of reading; the theme seems to be lonely/angry young women and their depressing lives. (The Bell Jar, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, She's Come Undone; the exception is Dan Savage's adoption memoir.)

Next on the tourplan: a castle! and a mara wisaalaya temple, which has a current festival! Trying to take photos of the awesome temple trannies, who dress as Hanuman and Vishnu and Durga! (Somehow, a man dressed as Vishnu is a transvestite, regardless of the gender lines.) Also, no more shopping.



It's really strange how the Internet is the same everywhere you go. Where everything else is odd and confusing, I feel that familiar sites are almost too easy, too simple. It makes them seem childlike. They should have weird foreign writing and colour-schemes.

Now in Pondicherry after two days in Chennai. I was told by a nice lady on the plane that two days was insufficient, but I was not sad to go--aside from leaving my lovely hosts, the Banerjees. The city is flat and low-lying and lacks grandeur (though not large concretey buildings). I did get to attend a fancy-schmancy art auction, which was swank and lavishly catered and fun; also enjoyed the Snake Park (many bored crocodiles) and Marina Beach and the gorgeous bronzes at the museum. I had some delicious paan too.

Pondy is sort of the Indian Riviera. Once French, now merely full of charming bicycles. I have one, #8 from my guesthouse, and with giant sunglasses and sweeping skirt I feel pretty damn cool. Tomorrow I'm cycling 10km up the coast to see an "experiment in international living" aka mondo huge commune type thing. One of the big deals in this town is the Sri Aurobindo ashram, which seems like a nice place with a good set of philosophies. They own half the town, including my lovely ocean-view guesthouse.

Someone on my Chennai city tour (the guide talked as long about snakebite remedies as he did about anything else) asked if travelling alone gets boring. I don't feel bored so much as un-purposeful. Part of the fun of travelling is executing plans in a confusing setting. Getting on the correct bus is a triumph, but not if you've no one to share it with. Also, it's better to have another set of opinions and observations going on alongside one; I feel sort of deprived with only my own (un-novel; they're mine) thoughts for company.

Actually the most difficult thing about being alone is that I have major problems figuring out when I'm hungry, and ordering in unfamiliar settings. Have to work on plunging in--typical Rebecca. I'm not getting harassed at all, which is so, so nice. The worst it's been is that the airport taxi-wallah laughed really hard at my awful Tamil, and asked me questions in very broken English, and kept saying "I very like! Soooooper!" and grinning and telling me he had no girlfriend. If that's as bad as it gets, awesome. The beggars are more aggressive here, though--they even grab your arm. The flipside of no harassment is that people are less friendly here; not rude (like real French people) but pretty uninterested.

Mm, enough of this. Am thirsty. Off to find some dodgy roadside juice stand and take my chances.