Spotty power

Ubiquitously-available electricity is a luxury. In this part of the world it’s routine for it to go off several times an hour, and you get used to it. Uploading content to this blog, however, is made less likely when wifi disappears intermittently. So I may go dark for a few days.

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Mandor Express, Delhi to Jodhpur

Overnight from Delhi to Jodhpur, we shared a compartment with Sanjay and Jaysa, who were returning from Delhi where they got their visas to travel to the UK. Their bright son Lachit, a badminton player, traveled with them. Also a crabby girl who didn’t interact much at all except to swipe my second pillow.

It was a two-tier second-class AC berth, six of us sharing floorspace smaller than our powder room off the kitchen at home. Sitting on the lower berth, our knees had to fit together.

We slept like rocks.

Squat toilets are a fact of life in Asia. The Peace Corps even has an inservice about them for volunteers! Nevertheless, on a wobbling train, lets just say the usual annoyance with male urination is magnified and the process of squatting is an aesthetic hurdle.

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Akshardham Temple, New Delhi

There’s enormous security at Akshardham Temple and they make sure no one gets in with a camera or cellphone. So, excuse the stock image. It’s a Hindu mandir that was carved over 5 years by 7,000 stonemasons. So, one dude with a chisel could knock together a similar project in a mere 35,000 years. The carvings are astonishing in detail and artistry — just counting the elephants alone would take a year.

There are vast gardens and fountains, and a Disneyesque series of theaters with impressive animatronic robots depicting the life of a Swami (whose robot avatar has rock-hard abs), culminating in a darkened boat ride that proudly describes India’s contributions to science, art, philosophy, mathematics and medicine.

At times the content had the ring of a cult recruitment video, with lots of promises of happiness if one adopts the beliefs shared by devotees. This seems in sharp contrast to Buddhism, which doesn’t promise happiness at all — only contentment with whatever happens; contentment with happiness or misery and the fleeting nature of each.

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This religion, that religion

This religion says that you mustn’t mess with cows.

That religion requires you to drink blood and eat flesh.

Another religion demands that men have the tips of their penises chopped off.

Yet another religion insists that women be draped with cloth from head to foot.

Many religions encourage you to hate gay people.

And believers of one religion think Donald Trump is the best leader, ever.

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