Returning to Tala

November 12, 2010

It is November 12, 2010. Soon, I will be returning to Tala. I leave December 17th. I have spent the last month or so planning the trip, organizing the hotels, airfare, train travel…always planning, thinking, planning. Nothing in India is easy. It sounds so glamorous–romantic even,  saying something like ” I will be taking an overnight train from Caluctta to Varanasi” but in reality its chaotic and dirty and such a lot of work. But. Its amazing and entertaining and enlightening .  India ‘brings you face to face with your own s**t someone’ said to me once. I did not understand that then, I do now. If you are a westener, and you go to India, you  feel that you can never complain about anything ever again. India makes you grateful.

Your neck gets sore from constantly looking around at the people, the chaos and confusion. Your brain and senses are constantly being assaulted with the noise , smell and food. For a poor country that has a large population of starving people–there sure is a lot of food. People are always eating. Never washing dishes or pots…just…always eating. How is that possible?

The ‘work’ of India starts even before you board the plane. Websites dont work, phone calls dont work even though you have called the 5 numbers listed on the website, nobody emails back from either of the 4 email addresses listed on the website,  reservations get lost, reservations can’t be made, visas have to be obtained. Ah, yes the visa. To enter India as a tourist, one needs a tourist visa. Sounds simple enough, right? Not really. To get the tourist visa, you have to apply for it by mail, or in person. You need to fill out forms. Lots of forms. You need to have photos, passport, cash and two self-addressed postage pre-paid envelopes. If all is in order, you will get your visa in 5-7500 working days. Maybe.

But. Thats India.

I will be leaving Dec. 17th and arriving at my final destination –Calcutta ( now Kolkata) 48 hours later. Yay, me! I mean that both ways-sarcastic and happy. From there, I am meeting up with my mother, and we are taking the overnight train to Varanasi. Holiest of holy cities.

From there, we go to Tala. I will be spending 6 days at the White Tiger Forest Lodge. During that time, I will be working with the Bandhavgarh Anti-Malaria club and distributing the nets and the sports equipment I am purchasing with the generous donations from the churches. It is long overdue, and I am looking forward to this experience.

This will be the first time that I am going when the tiger park is open. Usually I am there in July, and the tiger park is closed. Hopefully, I will see a tiger. Hopefully it will be from the back of  a jeep, and not crossing my path. They eat people you know…..


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