Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Amritsar - The Border Closing and a Red Handed Pick-Pocketing Rickshaw Driver

Ah, Amritsar, the city of temples, they say, just like every other city.

Ma, I know you'll like this picture, but not just the picture, but the entire temple is made from mosaics. It is so colorful and enchanting, especially the life size deities dressed in mosaics. Lots of places, most of all temples, forbid the use of cameras, so I had to sneak my camera in to get some good shots. There was another temple in Amritsar I visited which required you to walk through a small cave, head hung low, and feet sloshing through water. I don't think any synagogues or even churches would have you walk through a maze like compound dragging your feet through chilled water in the name of God, but India is a special place.

This is classic India. We spent the evening at the border closing show. Amritsar is a city in Northern India which borders Pakistan. Each night, citizens from both India and Pakistan gather to celebrate the closing of the border. Th is is actually a crazy Indian and Pakistani party. Before the event commences, music is blasted through the air and people on both sides of the fences mosh in the middle of the street dancing their hearts out with intense pride. And it sure was intense. Situated within the masses, I had to inhale each breathe with careful precision, otherwise being enmeshed with the fierce gathering, there was no guarantee for air. Many people held the Indian flag and ran up and down the street while the rest continued to prove their love for their country b y dancing wildly.
You can see the other side of the border with the Pakistani flags. This event is really quite humorous; some say it intended to mock or simulate the movie Holy Grail. The soldiers on both sides would march towards each other in a satirical manner, legs and arms pumped high to show the exaggerated pulsing the army typically requires of its troops. After an hour of dancing and an hour of marching, the flags on both sides are finally lowered, and everyone cheers and heads home. With this exchange of fun for the two countries, one would never guess that deep down, near the root of theirs beings, they really hate each other. Well, there is some peace here in crazy land!

Oh right, the Red Handed Pick-Pocketing Rickshaw Driver. I almost forgot. After the show, my friends and I needed to catch a rickshaw or Indian-taxi back to our hotel. At this point it was dark, maybe 9 or 10 o'clock and of course, still much traffic. Our rickshaw driver motioned for me to come to the front seat, as the three of us were pondering around in the back reminiscing with a gentle smile about the night we just experienced. With a calm attitude, I agreed, besides, I had never been up front in a rickshaw. These seats are usually reserved for people from India as it's a small and not the safest of seats - driving in rickshaw in the first place is not the safest of things to do, but we do anyways. Well, in the front seat now, witnessing the barrage of rickshaws, cars, trucks, bikes, and other, the driver leans over to me and asks if I would like any hash or drugs. I giggle and softly reply "No, no. No need, but thanks." My chuckle subsides, and I remain in the front seat.
I then feel a poke on my right leg where my cargo pocket is located. I notice the flap is now open. I find this odd, shut it, and go about gazing at the chaos of the street. Again, I feel a poke on my right leg where my cargo pocket is located. At this point, I know what the driver is up to. Luckily I have a zipper under the flap to make is extra difficult for people like him to get in. I close the flap. But this time, I pretend to look the other way while gazing down at my cargo, so he wouldn't notice. Sure enough, with one hand on the steering wheel, the other slowly makes its way down to my cargo pocket. I lurch my left arm down with such might and precision to grasp his hand, and I do not release, but instead clench tighter. I begin to yell at him, "Nay Teek, nay teek - No Good, no good," while pointing my right finger at him. Blood has rushed to my face that I'm surprised it didn't explode all over him. I motion for my two friends in the back seat to get out and we will get another ride. Ya, this was smart. It's nearing 10 o'clock, dark in the middle of a machine infested street in the middle of nowhere, and I decide to hop out and into it. Somehow we survived. I told them what happened, we got into another rickshaw, and made our way back to our hotel with all the money remaining in our pockets!

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