Journey to AhmednagarDate: 3/6/2016
I'm in the back seat of a car being driven to Ahmednagar, in the state of Maharashtra. I've never been to this area and don't know what to expect. Even at 5 a.m. it is hot, and my skin is coated with sweat as the car accelerates through Mumbai trying to find the expressway that will take us four hours to the east. I beg the driver to turn on the AC.
Soon the car is hurtling down the expressway, and I am staring up through eye slits at the car's ceiling from my prone position on the seat, fading in and out of consciousness from jet lag and sleep deprivation. The few times I'm able to rally myself during the car ride, I steal glimpses of a fantastic serrated mountain range draped in early morning fog, of dun-colored, hardscrabble countryside dotted with scarlet blossomed gulmohar trees that seem to be screaming for the monsoons to come.
The driver, a very nice man with penchants for enthusiastic slamming of the accelerator and the brakes, speaks very little English, and my Hindi is limited to self defense terms, so the ride is accomplished mostly in silence. Hindi music twinkles from the cassette player.
In the final stretch, the car is baked under a relentless sun as we approach midday. We pass convoy after convoy of the ubiquitous highly decorated Indian semi trucks hauling the broadest range of goods imaginable: onions, a ginormous hydraulic piston that fills the entire flatbed, plastic chairs. We find a break in the truck line, turn right onto a dirt road that winds through a little village. Through the rabbit warren of lanes we go, zigging and zagging and yet hitting any number of potholes which jostles me around. And then finally a small clearing and gate, and we proceed across a desolate open area in the middle of the compound. I have finally arrived at what will be my home for the next two weeks. I have arrived at Snehalaya.