Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Hotel Stories

(just so ya know, the first photo is from another market in southern India, but it will have to do until I find the one I'm looking for)

Eventually I found a guest house, but before that...

The air weighed tropical and heavy. Nothing less than I had hoped for after several days of travel by train, rickshaws, and finally the crowded bus that, after too many hours of death defying maneuvers through mountainous jungle roads, brought me at last to Karwar, Karnataka, southern India.

A layer of clouds hung in the evening sky as I pushed my way down from the bus. With stiff muscles and a cumbersome backpack I awkwardly sidestepped the muddy puddles pocketing the road. Ochre swirls from the rain-soaked Indian earth rose to my feet, while a delicate drizzle of cloud and mist fell, making me feel as though the sea itself was falling from the sky. I smelled its saltiness, tasted its sweetness. The palm trees and flora, layer upon layer, ridge after ridge of green jungle tumbled down to where I stood. Having just left the thirsting desert landscape of Rajasthan, the jungle held the power to dissolve me, swallowed whole into the belly of a whale.

Trunks of trees rose out of sight into a veiled sky. Complicated knots of climbers and creepers spread across the bark of trees, tendrils stretching in every direction of providing space. Flowers grew like misplaced ornaments in lofts of each available crook. Leaf fronds bent and swayed, dripped--their glossy surfaces creating an unbroken wall of noisy silence. A monkey hollered in the distance where, just off the side of the road, I was drawn into the secret labyrinth of roots and leaves. It was a world within itself--—a microcosm of existence, a universe smaller than my own, yet no less important. I was awed by the ferocity with which the jungle took in reclaiming itself; even in death there came from it yet another generation of life.

With another look to take it in I started for the village where I found women with large woven baskets of fish or crab carried on their heads. Life colliding with life; they milled around me, making their way home after a hard day of selling their labors on the side of the road --like fine statues, incomparable in beauty. They wore simple sarongs around their dark, almost black muscled bodies, held in place only by heavily beaded necklaces, leaving their powerful arms and back exposed. Strings of fragrant jasmine blossoms cascaded from their carefully plaited silken hair.

In the direction of the ocean the sun disappeared into the depths leaving only a Gauguin sky of orange, fuchsia, and purples to penetrate what was left of grey. The sound of waves and cawing ravens called me to the water. I would have liked to evaporate into the salty night, but I was in the main market and the bustling of locals packing up their wares reminded me that I would have to wait until morning to explore. I had, more importantly, to find a place to stay. There are rules to the jungle, but more importantly there are rules for women, especially those traveling alone in India. Perhaps it is a shared sense of hazard--this being a woman, or a jungle.



* * * * * * * * *

Several weeks later, and further south along the Western shores of India, I experienced another sort of "hotel story" (click on postcard)....


Really, there are so many of them (one story leads to the next, to the next, to the next...)--I think I might have tapped into something here. But in the meantime, you can find more hotel stories here.

24 comments:

Catherine said...

Love the postcard - and the picture of the roommate!

Pacian said...

A very evocative piece of writing!

And I like the way your beetle friend looks so happy...

paris parfait said...

Beautifully written, Jessie. Very evocative of the time and place.

tara dawn said...

Your writing is impeccable here...truly exquisite! Your descriptions so tantalizing, bringing me into another world, another place and time and culture. This is truly a beautiful piece of writing!
Love to you,
TD

Anonymous said...

I felt like I was there.

Love the picture of the roommate.

Kay
www.thekaybug.blogspot.com

Kamsin said...

I think maybe we've had the same roommate before now!

Sioux said...

An exotic, very interesting story!

alyndabear said...

Ohhh - the postcard fits in perfectly with this theme. Sounds like somewhere you could definitely get lost in..

susanna said...

Oh Lord! I can imagine your mother's reaction when she learned who you were rooming with at the hotel! Hah! I enjoyed reading your colourful descriptions of the scents and sights and sounds of India. And the photograph is beautiful. Look at the movement, at the smiles on the women's faces!

J*me said...

wow beautiful post!

Laini Taylor said...

Your writing is beautiful! I can just see and feel and smell the place, the viney trees and monkeys and all. Ah, for some reason I've been thinking about India a lot lately -- I've never been, but I'm wanting more and more to go. I also love that postcard!! So funny!

DuhhhBlond said...

your vivid descriptions made me feel as if I was there, too.. I could even hear the monkey :)

Verity said...

Wow Jessie! Such evocative, poetic writing. I went to Karnataka and Goa recently, and I've travelled a lot, but reading your words made it all seem totally fresh and new. Love the postcard too!

Michelle said...

You captured your experience so well. I really love the roommate addition!

Ally Bean said...

"a Gauguin sky of orange, fuchsia, and purples to penetrate what was left of grey."

such a perfect description. and what an interesting journey you must of had in India.

GoGo said...

I appreciate the stories unfolding one from the other!

My favorite part of a line in the first one is "universe smaller than my own". I just liked that.

Tammy said...

You described it perfectly. I felt like I was with you :) Cute roomie you had there, did he come with a leash?

XXOO

Going For Greatness said...

Your writing is so descriptive that I felt wrapped in the jungle itself!
..."the jungle held the power to dissolve me, swallowed whole into the belly of a whale."
that was my favourite line as I can completely identify with that feelin as I stepped off the plane and was instantly swallowed into the desert of Israel.... amazing post!!
~Gabi

NuttersNotes said...

Yes...I could even smell the place that you were at though I have never been anywhere like this.

Well done!

January said...

Great piece of writing. Great photo. And great postcard.

Thanks for posting on my blog. Can't wait to read your posts

Happy Sunday Scribblings!

Elizabeth said...

I really enjoyed how you took an ordinary objective, finding a hotel room, and used it to frame a rich story about a place most of us know little about. I traveled in Bali once, and your description evoked for me a sense of the life in Bali's small cities - jungles, monkeys and coloful clothes and all. Your story intrigued me; I want to know why you were in India, what you were doing there, why you took off your watch, who you met, what you learned...and what hotels you stayed in!

.

Colorsonmymind said...

I wrote about India also!

I loved this story-so rich and full of beautiful detail.

I wish I had included some of these details...

The postcard is awsome too.

Heather said...

I can feel the humidity and the denseness of the air from your description.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

I had that roommate once. ew.