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A change of perspective

Kaye Ferry

As things are pretty quiet on the Vail political scene, I’ll make a little departure from my typical themes and fill you in on my recent trip. Notice that I didn’t use the word vacation because there’s clearly a difference.Several years back, a friend of mine defined the difference between a trip and a vacation. He said a trip is when you go visit your family, and a vacation is when you go somewhere else. Well, that may be true, but I’d go a little further. A trip is also an educational experience or a venture into a new arena, not to be confused with what most of us do in the spring, which is clearly a vacation – a generally a much-needed one at that. A vacation includes things like pina coladas on a beach somewhere. I do that once a year and find that even the move from the bed to the beach chair is an effort. The rest of the time I take trips to places that push me completely out of my comfort zone and create new awareness of the rest of the world. With that motivation in mind, I spent the past three weeks in India.I went with my sister and my best friend’s husband. You might remember her – my best friend. I wrote about her last summer. She was the one who had trouble accessing the amphitheater because she has a severe disability and they have very limited means for accommodating the handicapped. Bottom line is this trip would have been too difficult for her, so I kidnapped her husband.My goal was achieved. I wasn’t in my comfort zone for three entire weeks. To begin with, the trip took 34 hours going and 32 on the return. Add an 11.5-hour time change and grueling is the only word to define the experience. We barely got acclimated to the trip there when we were reversing the process.I guess the only was to describe India is to use the word chaos. There is a total sense of chaos at all times. And even those living there acknowledge it. But then don’t forget, it’s totally understandable when you figure the population into the equation. India is a country of 1.1 billion people with a rapidly growing population. In Delhi, there’s a billboard that tallies a new addition born every second with the result being that every year, the entire population of Australia is duplicated by the Indian birth rate.In Delhi alone, 15 million people reside. They do so in ways that are as foreign to us as my hair was to them. There are generations that have lived on the streets, along with a myriad of other creatures.On any given street, few of which are paved or wider than Gore Creek Drive, you’ll find buses, cars, bicycles by hundreds, motor cycles, rickshaw-like things and some unique contraptions that are mounted over motorcycles and act as a version of a taxi cab. At first glance, they appear to be capable of holding three passengers if squeezed very tightly, yet I saw nine get out of one and have no idea where they all were. And I saw bikes accommodate as many as five – two adults and a child on the back, one on the cross bar, plus the driver.Other little idiosyncrasies include no rearview mirrors because they drive thisclose to each other and the animals -I mean like inches apart. As a result, they depend completely on their horns to let others know where they are. I swear our driver kept his hand on the horn continuously. A cacophony of noise envelops the streets at all times.Mixed between all of that are the cows. Cows, of course, serve a religious purpose in India. Like most religious principles, there is an historical reason for that. Pretty basically it goes like this: It was determined that a live cow could provide milk, etc., on a daily basis, but a dead cow was dead. Hence, the cows wander freely on the streets in the north – roaming between the foods stalls and traffic, sleeping where they choose, dodging bikes and buses and other animals. Did I mention those? Intermingled with all of the modes of transportation mentioned above, there are elephants carrying loads of wood in their trunks, camels with all sorts of things piled on their backs, donkeys pulling carts, veiled women with babies on their hips and baskets balanced gracefully on their heads, men riding horses and the usual mix of dogs and goats and wild boars roaming freely. And don’t forget the peacocks and monkeys. Peacocks are the national bird of India and strut without compromise. The monkeys are not quite so graceful. They sit on every available surface while also leaping through treetops and balancing on overhead electrical wires that form an illegal web over the streets of old Delhi.Try to imagine these streets at night. Elephants and camels don’t have rear lights. Believe me, negotiating the streets is not for the faint of heart. Of course, this all means that the going is slow. It took seven and a half hours to go 150 km and that was on the “good road” which was still very confused since they don’t believe in painted lanes. Whoever gets in the lane first stakes out a claim, and then it’s a game of chicken.Well, I’m out of space. I thought this would be quick, but part 2 is coming because the memories are too many and the visions still too bright. So while things are quiet at town hall, I’ll continue this story next week. Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily. Vail, Colorado


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