Delhi to Dharamsala
Well, so much for my new year's resolution of blogging every single day. As we used to say Back In The Day, I "fell off" for a while.
Fortunately, in a few weeks it will be Losar (Tibetan Lunar New Year) and I will have a chance to resolve anew.
So as to end the mind-numbing suspense, yes, I was FINALLY granted the (very brief) visa extension, just long enough for me to get out of the country without a fine.
Then I was kidnapped by an emerging colony of underground artists deep in the bowels of Delhi's Lajpat Nagar and am only now emerging from the subterranean lair to tell the story.
Members of this collective include a Japanese public-art pirate and a Mandaya Indian stop-motion filmmaker. We've got Warhol's Factory beat all to hell, now all we need is drugs and money.
Seriously, this was my first experiment with the traveler's space-sharing project Couchsurfing. So far, so good.
The road to procrastination is paved with good downloads. We had fully intended to attend the Republic Day parades in the morning. But, since we ended up watching the Bob Dylan interpretive-bio flick I'm Not There till about 2 in the morning, this was not to be.
Instead, Indian Republic Day (Jan. 26) was spent pigging out South Indian stylee at the Karnataka cultural center, then hanging out at Tamil Sangam auditorium with fantastic tribal folk dancers from Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Punjab.
My favourites were the ethereal dancers from Bhopal, a hybrid of Masai warriors in full dress and characters from the movie The Fifth Element, swirling to hypnotic sounds of a dissonant gong.
As bus rides to Dharamsala ("I Mean McLeod Ganj") go, I had the absolute best 14-hour bus ride ever, crashed out in the cabin (driver's compartment). I managed to nab a 250Rs ($6.00) a night room at OM Hotel with a valley view.
I was miffed to see that the McLeod landmark Sunrise Chai stand is no more. (This place is a real institution on Bhagsu Road.) It's been replaced by - wait for it - a Kashmiri emporium ! Just what McLeod needs more of. The neighboring Moonlight Chai stand remains, but Sunrise will be sorely missed.
Now in Dharamsala ("I Mean McLeod Ganj") for just a couple days on an administrative mission. More news as it happens....