Early, Weird, Wonderful

        Early: me waking up. Itís 5 and Iím energized. I kill an hour online, but Iím still fully functioning. Looking outside, itís light and seems interesting. Iíll go find out.
        Weird: the beach. Itís the 2nd largest in the world, but my enjoyment of its sandy expanse ends after I see half a dozen people squatting, leaving smelly brown mementos. Dodging turds to walk in the possibly fecally contaminated surf soon becomes a shitty value proposition, so I cut towards the road. A noteworthy beach presence: extreme boat improvisation. Think some slightly curved logs loosely bound together with scraps of rope found in the trash, and then drastically simplify what youíre imagining. And one more: volleyball courts, also improvised. The guys I see playing suck pretty hard, but give them a few years and Iíll bet volleyball will be something else India kicks Americaís ass at.
        Weird and wonderful: the best picture I almost didnít take. Iím jogging back on the sidewalk when I see an elderly man with a thick white beard sitting on the border between beach and road. Unkempt, shirtless, face painted, and looking entirely content, heís speaking to a friend on one side and has an improvised shrine (some candles, maybe a bit of incense, pictures of deities and prests) to his other. I look, amused, as I jog by. Then I start thinking: heís got it made. Yeah, heís sitting on the sidewalk between an overcrowded polluted city and a beach that people poop on, but doesnít he have all his bases covered? Heís got his individualism, a cause heís passionate about (Hinduism), those he cares about (or at least one friend), and a smile on his face. Is anything lacking? I jog back and take his picture.
        Just flat-out wonderful are fireworks at 7:30 in the morning. I jog upon some short, withered old man with matchbox ready to strike a string of firecrackers several times longer than he is tall. He doesnít let me light it, but he does allow me to stay close enough that empty shells bounce off me as I videotape the explosions. I look so amused that Iím definitely once again entertaining the locals, and the noise certainly keeps me awake.
        Get back around 8, and Iíve had more excitement and exercise before I usually wake up than I have in an entire typical traveling day (at least for this trip). Not much to match morning; the closest I come is a walk in the desert. Iíve just broken a wall outlet by trying to force a plug into it, snapped the front of a computerís case off with a similarly unwise use of force, and weíre just sitting around, so I decide a walkís warranted while we wait for our hosts to return from some bureaucratic bullshit.
        Trudging up a dune allows me to see the ocean and that Iíve been walking directly away from it, whoops. I canít cool off but I find something almost as good: a path up a hill leads to several statues of servant women and an empty fountain, all decaying and covered with weeds. For me, these are the remains of a great, secret temple. Reality is likely less interesting, but I donít let it impede my enjoyment of the moment.
        Even after drinking several liters of water, I remain a bit out of it from my sunny forays. Professor Gangulee guesses heat stroke; all I know is Iím extremely tired as large quantities of excellent dinner are all but forced down our throats and sound asleep immediately afterwards.
       

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