Miranda’s Writing

Hi! I’m Miranda. I am a co-founder, dancer, and program coordinator at Shakti Caravan and I believe fiercely in things like education reform, magical thinking, and using the arts to effect social change. I write about these things here.

It is important to note that these posts are personal reflections and do not represent Shakti Caravan as a whole. However; these essays and stories often come from conversations and experiences that have taken place during Shakti Caravan.

When I first came to India in 2012, I started a blog called “Musings from India” as a way to make sense of my experiences in this incredible place. Since then, I’ve simplified the title, as “Musings from India” implies that I must be IN India in order to, well, muse. Shakti Caravan, as an entity, is not confined to one specific place or medium, so why should I be? This blog has evolved over the years but, whoever you are, sweet reader, I hope you find some snippet in these pages that sparks something for you.

On airports and taxi cabs


So, taxi cabs. That is the first difference I noticed here.

The flight was a flight. I slept, watched bad movies, ate awful food, read the Hunger Games. No window seat, so nothing to look at. Indira Gandhi International Airport is like every other airport in the world. I could have been in Newark, JFK, Frankfurt, etc. All the signs are in English first and it’s all that same shiny, sharp-angled, architecture with lots of windows and ugly carpeting that all airports seem to have. The two things which distinguished Indira Gandhi Airport from all the others were that, in the immigration hall, above all the immigration officers’ desks, were a number of giant metal hands protruding from the wall. Each hand made a different prayer sign. I’ll have to investigate further because I don’t know what they meant. The other thing I noticed was that the thick fog from outside had managed to drift inside, filling the airport with a musty yellow haze.

Speaking of haze, let’s go back to that taxi ride. It’s a whole different world, driving over here. It takes only one cab ride to understand that the rules are very different on the roads of Delhi than they are in New York. White and yellow lines mean nothing. Cars swerve in and around one another like some sort of mesmerizing, fast-pace dance. If there is a line of stopped traffic up ahead do you stop? No, of course not! You just drive off the road and loop around it. Red light means stop? Ptsh. Only if you’re a bad driver. At first the non-stop honking from all around had me annoyed and anxious but then I realized that the honking here is for a purpose which is totally foreign to me. Honking a car horn here is a signal: “Hey big truck on my left and little rickshaw on my right: I’m coming through, so watch out!" The honking wasn’t just to express anger and annoyance, as I have always experienced with Cab Drivers in NYC. It’s almost like a salutation and less of a "HEY F*** YOU, SLOW MORON, I’M DRIVIN’ HERE!”

It took a few moments of fear and internal backseat driving before I realized that I most likely wasn’t going to die. After that, I watched. Through the yellow fog, I could barely make out anything–a looming building here, some construction sight over there, looping highway passes overhead or down below. I was honestly much more fascinated by the driving skills all around me. Especially impressed with my taxi driver’s bravado at the wheel. He got me here safe and I am grateful.

I still haven’t had a good look at the surroundings outside the India Habitat Center but I’m pretty thrilled to be inside, curled up in a bed, in a room, right now. With hot water and internet access. I wake up in 4 hours, at 4am, to go to Agra with my Professor and her two daughters, to see the Taj Mahal. I promise to take pictures.