Most travelers recognize. That travel strips away one's personal trappings. The web of friends, support, familiarity of place. Are gone. And I am left with only myself. My thoughts. And a bag of my belongings. Clothes that when I return I will scarcely be able to look at. A few new scarves bought in the market. Some books. There's little escape. From seeing your own weaknesses. And strengths. Your own essence.
During an open window ride back into Calcutta, smog gathers in my lungs. I admire the swirling color of saris. Babies' eyes ringed with kohl. Incense burning at the goddess Kali's blue feet.
Auto-rickshaws, rickshaws pulled by old men, and cars. Countless near misses. Vehicles passing by inches. And the noise. The noise of traffic is monumental. The rickhaw drivers tap a small bell as a warning. The auto-rickshaws have horns they squeeze which squeak like a thousand dog toys. The car horns blare. The truck horns bellow. A cacaphony of sound. And color.
I return to my hotel, my eyes and ears exhausted.
Today there is no traffic. There is a general strike, called by a political party. No horns. Nowhere to go. Not much to do. The city has come to a standstill.