Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why so quiet?

Those questions weren't rhetorical!

We're in Hyderabad at the moment, killing time on the intraweb until we catch our plane to Calcutta. I'm appalled that we're flying; add this to the number of trains and buses we've taken over the last three months - nevermind the flight to Delhi in the first place - and we've racked up so many enviro bad-karma points that we'll never recover. There's nothing like knowing that you've caused irreparable damage to the place you came to see and appreciate to make you feel like... well, like a spoiled jerk.

And I forgot to remark on Earth Day, which was April 22. We were trekking through the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Thinking back, we got lucky and managed to go the whole day using barely any electricity (no more than two hours of a single light bulb, in the homestay we stayed at that night), if you cheat and don't count the energy that went into making our food. Or the 6 plastic bottles we only reused twice each before throwing them away. Like I said, we'll never be able to atone for the damage done in this trip.

And yet, it's still probably less than the damage we would have done in Canada. Of course that's not what I meant to Earth-Day-post about.

Some handy enviro links:

- your personal carbon footprint here, in relation to global averages and to the world's total resources. how many earths would we need if everyone lived like you do?
- everyday activist, one of the most useful sites on teh web; suggestions for small changes that everyone can make, more or less effortlessly, to improve the way they live. devoted especially to the generations who think they're too old to change now.
- philobiblion, for green politics (plus books and feminism. word.)
- some helpful information about the ideas behind fair trade, its effects on communities and the environment, and fair trade product certification

Alright, enough. I'm just going to feel guilty, and that's that.

Hyderabad is interesting. It's quickly surpassing Bangalore as the IT-tech and financial hub of India, which means a sort of westernization that, as it tends to do in this country, only makes the whole thing seem more fundamentally Indian than it otherwise would. Those unique types of Indian wealth and poverty, of modernization and tradition. This is a very, very interesting time to be in the East.

That said, I think we're all starting to think about home a little more than we have been. Between today and tomorrow, we're saying goodbye to the plains; the rest of our trip will be in the Himalayas, which is a little surreal. We've been on these plains for two months, which I guess isn't all that much time in absolute terms, but has been long enough that it started to feel like it wouldn't end, like this is just how our life is now: moving from place to place every few days, finding a new hotel and new places to eat, things to see. Occasionally joining another pair or group of travelers for a day here and there. But, it's not.

Next stop: Calcutta. We barely have 24 hours there before we get on a (painfully long) train to New Jalpaiguri, where we'll wait out the night and then take another, 6-hour train (of the old-fashioned steam variety this time) to Darjeeling proper. We've given ourselves one day there to put together our 5-day trek, and then we're off along Singalila Ridge. We have a total of about 8 days in Darjeeling, to give us some time to let our sore legs recover and to see the town a bit. After that, S. will be off into Nepal; E. and I are hanging back, E. because she's running out of time, and me because I have no visa to re-enter with. So together we'll be going by bus under the Nepalese border, across to pick up the mountains as they re-emerge on the other side of Nepal, back in Uttaranchal, above Delhi in the West. From there (well, from an 12-hour bus ride from there) we'll be doing a 3-day trek together to the source of the Ganges. This trek features glaciers, which is in and of itself exciting.

All of this may or may not be followed by a trip to Lahaul and Spiti valley, which is a poor substitute for where I'd really like to go: Leh, in the Ladakh region, which is still snowed in an inaccessible except by flight from Chandigarh. And I'm done with flying for this trip. Still, Lahal shares the high-altitude desert, the snow-capped vistas, the strange and barren moonscape. And I suppose that's the point.

Either way, it ends in McLeod Ganj.

I would expect that I'll have time to post from Darjeeling, but I'm not sure whether it will be before or after our trek, making it somewhere between a few days and a week and a half from now. So, be good. My dad tells me you have a (ha!) heatwave coming, up to 22C. I laugh with contempt at your 22C. Ha ha ha, that's my laughter. At you.

It's 41C here. That's without factoring in humidity. The breeze is like having a hair dryer blown in your face. Like outdoor shopping in an oven. Seriously, there is nothing in the Canadian vocabulary that can accurately capture exactly how hot it is here. Don't even get me started on the Madikeri trek. Gorgeous, yeah, but now my sweat valves only have two settings: resting, and pouring like a stuck faucet. Have you ever gone from bone-dry to dripping sweat in under 5 minutes? Because we have.

And yeah, one of these days I'll get a good post in that has some, you know, actual thought content in it, rather than just exposition. But, friends, that day is not today.

Behave yourselves. Everyday Activist can help you do that.

(Addendum: We Move to Canada has a post up about recent good stuff Canada has been doing on the green front.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully it will be a little cooler for you on the next part of your trip. Hope you're still taking pictures .... would love to see one of you!!
Will your 5-day trek be a guided one? on a well-travelled trail? with a group, or just the 3 of you? Have you got all the proper gear to hike? Sorry for all the questions, but moms do that ..... :-)
Take good care of each other.
Be safe!!
Love you lots. Mom & Dad xxoo