Monday, April 5, 2010


Lucknow --March 22 or so, 2010

Lucknow is not a tourist town. It’s the capital city of its state (very modern, clean and bustling with activity), the former center of the Moghul empire (and, thus, peppered with ancient beautiful buildings with spires and domes that have been preserved much better than most ancient buildings in India) and home to a population split between Muslims and Hindus (which didn’t seem to cause a lot of stress but, of course, I was only there for a few days and didn’t have an opportunity to do much mingling.)

Anna and I and Leslie and Gertrude from Germany spent a day sightseeing .... visiting the Moghul palace that is built with labyrinth-like hallways winding throughout its interior... there are many deadends and tricky passageways that take you up when you want to go down, down when you want to go up and finally dump you at a window or balcony or porch with no apparent way out.

It’s architecture resulted in wonderfully cool interior spaces and the four of us enjoyed a few hours relaxing and chatting with local people (and, of course, had our photos taken hundreds of times).


The best adjective to describe Lucknow is HOT... unbearable, suffocating, oppressive heat. The temperature hovers in the 90s and 100s at mid-day. Our rooms have no fans and are like mosquito-infested ovens with beds. By 8:30 in the morning you begin to melt and continue to wilt throughout the day. Motivation melts away; productivity for most of the Karavaners is lower than usual.

We spend our days at the free Internet shop (which is good if one computer is in use but declines in speed and capabilities with each additional user.... I spent 3 hours online trying to update my blog and got very little accomplished thanks to the other 5 computers trying to accomplish similar feats)

As our time is short in Lucknow, Anna and I decide to do an easy-to-accomplish project. Anna’s on-going project involves water -- its lack, its pollution, its myths, its history, etc., etc. So, we have Khitish draw up a water conservation poster and set out to get 1,000 copies printed that we plan to plaster all over the walls leading into our artshow on the 24th.

We start at a stationery and photocopy shop. We (well, Khitish with us nodding and prodding and questioning) talk to the owner for at least an hour. He tells us it will cost around 700 rs (about $15) for 1,000 prints; we like the price and tell him to proceed. So he sends us to another stationery and photocopy shop about 15 minutes away where we repeat our discussion with another man. He tells us he’ll have a proof by 7 pm that night and the copies the next day.

At 7 pm we return; no proof. At 8, the proof arrives and is not what we’s black on green instead of green on black). So we wait while they re-do it. At 9, the second proof. Still not right. Dull green on black instead of fluorescent green on black.
we talk and talk to another man (we think he is the actual printer, but not sure) and he guarantees us that he understands and that we don’t need another proof; our order will be ready the next day.

We are skeptical, but..... The next day we go to the shop to pick up our copies only to be directed to the second shop. Since we don’t know how to get there without Khitish, we wait until the next morning and go to the shop. No copies. No proof. They tell us that today is a religious holiday so no one is working (which is WHY they had to have it done the day before!!) We ask if they can do them first thing in the morning. No, not possible... 6 pm is the best they can do (and 6 pm means 9 pm -- or never -- and we are scheduled to leave for Simla at 9 pm)

So... for our three-day effort, we ended up with a half-assed proof. I really don’t see how this country continues to operate at ay functional level. There are flyers plastered ALL OVER the walls... hundreds, thousands in a town... but no one can figure out how to get some made in 3 days??

Oh, well, we didn’t do the project (maybe Simla??)... Anna made a slideshow to introduce the project but it couldn’t be read by the computer we were using to compile the presentations... not meant to be, I suppose (which isn’t a horrible thing because the presentations that were projected had no sound, weren’t adjusted to the screen properly so difficult to see, and ended up being stopped in mid-show).

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