I'd like to welcome Elle Newmark with an insightful and heartfelt post of her experiences riding in New Dehli. Welcome Elle.
Driving in Delhi
My driver wove us through ’s traffic with his usual calm expertise, avoiding rickshaws and bony sacred cows and suicidal dogs. Whenever we stopped at a red light, sad women came up to the car, holding limp, unconscious babies; they tapped on the windows as if they barely had the strength to lift their arms, and mimed putting imaginary food into their mouths. The babies flopped on their arms looked dead, and I was later told they are in fact drugged so as not to bother their mothers while they are working. The women’s bleak faces could rip your heart out, and if you hand them a 100-rupee note (two dollars) they run like hell, veils flying, before you can change your mind. If you don’t give them anything, they might pound the window angrily, their faces morphing in an instant from pathetic to furious. Sometimes they whine, “You are riiiiich. I am poooor.” You will always feel like a heel around these women.
At one stoplight, a filthy, skin-and-bones child tapped on my window, hopping up and down to bring his pitiful face into view. At the same time, an old leper with fingers grown together so that he had paws rather than hands, tapped on the opposite window with thick yellow fingernails. Shocked by the double onslaught of misery, the light turned green before I could react.
I groaned as we drove away, but my driver said that as soon as the light turns green they lose the mournful look and laugh like hell if you gave them money or call you vile names if you didn’t. But does that matter? They’re human beings, grasping for survival. Does it matter whether their situation is slightly less dire than they make out? One was a child. The other was a leper.
A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India.In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.
But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857.
Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin’s dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.
Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.
The Sandelwood Tree buy link.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences. They are sad but true. I think that people lose the core of their mortality sometimes and become desensitized.