03 May 2009

tickets have been bought

woo woo! okay, plane tickets have officially been purchased, thank you Skyline Travel, leaving July 14th in the morning and arriving the next day at 9pm in Delhi. 19 hours in the air, 5 or 6 hours at airports, 12.5 hour time change. Air India most of the way, I love taking international carriers, it's more fun.
Next, to make reservations in Delhi for the first night or 2. We plan to stay long enough to get used to the time, then head out for the holy city of Varanasi, the city of lights. Although it sounds scripted, there happens to be a total solar eclipse on my birthday this year which passes right through the middle of India. Learning about this eclipse was one of the seeds of this trip. After all, that's a pretty blatant hint from the universe, as subtle as an ice cream cone. You can't argue with that kind of synchronicity. I actually saw this eclipse in India in '95: video
It was in north India near Fatehpur Sikri, on October 24th. I didn't know it was happening until I was there, I heard rumblings about it from other travelers while I was in Agra, and I learned that Agra was going to get 98% coverage, so I went into the desert, to the deserted ancient mughal city and the small Indian village which grew next to it, where totality would be achieved. the small town was overrun with scientific expeditions, so I went on a hike out of town with a handful of other travelers. I can't tell you how we hooked up, we just all were sitting and talking, and decided to start exploring. We ended up spending the night on the roof of a deserted mughal-era building, a circular stone building three or four hundred years old, with the center collapsed so that it looked like a 4-story doughnut. We spent the night on the roof, shared warmth and food, and woke up with the sun the next day, the day of the eclipse. It took place about an hour after sunrise, and it was spectacular, magical. You can really see the movement of the whole solar system. Birds fly back home for the night, the temperature drops, time seems to stop. We could see the NASA folks looking through their telescopes, and the locals in the Indian village started banging pots and pans in the dusty streets to get the sun to come back. Amazing. Only in India.
I can really understand the people that go around the world following solar eclipses. And when I found out there was another one in India on my birthday this year, I got the message, I knew I had to go. And when my sweet buttercup told me we were moving out of the country, I knew that seeing the eclipse wasn't just a summer vacation, but the starting point of a permanent move.
Coming up: let's plan a wedding, too!