JOURNEYS IV : FLASHBACKS
When I think about my trip to India I don’t know where to start, nor where to end. No matter if I hear the songs that accompanied me there, or see the pictures I took, trying to make sense out of it. Years later it still feels like a lucid dream. A liquid memory that comes alive when least expected.
Like while traveling through the Mexican countryside
By seeing the ochre shades of the valleys at sunset.
By admiring the colorful, adorned trucks stopping in tin towns, where women wearing bright clothes work outdoors, under the bougainvillea’s shadow.
By getting invited out of the blue to a wedding, where huge families celebrate love, faith, and traditions in the streets. Eating delicious, spicy food.
It is hard not to appreciate the parallels between these great civilizations. I guess that’s the reason why I don’t remember India as something too exotic or shocking as some of my European friends, despite the elephants and monkeys. I live a similar surreal dream every day somehow in my own country. The tortillería on the corner echoes the naan street vendors, and the mole served at the tianguis is a reminiscence of the curries found at the markets of Jaipur.
That doesn’t mean it’s all connected. Each culture has a unique heritage, and wonders that mirror this. In India, I found countless incredible archaeological sites, but my favorites were definitely Jantar Mantar and Fatehpur Sikri, both centers of scientific and architectural excellence. The impression they left on me was more everlasting than the breathtaking Taj Mahal.
Sunset in Pátzcuaro. the gleaming red roof tiles remind me of the Panch Mahal at the same hour, with an identical scent of spices and dry grass floating around the plaza.
Sometimes you only need to listen carefully. And feel. To go back in time.
-Michoacán, Nov. 2017
There are many things that contrast the lifestyle you lead while living in a 450’000 people city and in a 23 million metropolis. And one of the key differences is how you move around.
Zurich has a picture-perfect public transportation: trains, trams, trolleybuses and even boats. All running (almost always) perfectly on schedule, so reliable that when they aren’t hell breaks loose on the stations. Lately, I’ve heard from my friends there that fellow Zürchers fear that due to an increasing population the peak times after office hours might become unbearably crowded and unreliable. To me something unimaginable, since I’ve always experienced perfection back in the Swiss roads.
Mexico City is on the other side… complicated. Despite having one of the biggest (and probably cheapest) public transportation systems in the world, I don’t remember a moment in my lifetime that it hasn’t been overcrowded. No matter how many extra metro and bus lines are built, on weekdays is a real adventure moving around the city. And still, paying those 25 cents for your ticket will take you from A to B quicker and more efficiently than driving.
And yet… how stunning is to drive around those broad avenues at night.
And what a nightmare it is to be stuck in them after work during the day.
In the late hours driving down the Periférico my imagination creates a tunnel vision of memories. The music transforms a dull Tuesday night into a mysterious adventure, where these roads are finally free to be enjoyed. The Skyline shimmers and you feel the city’s beat in your heart.
Then it comes to my mind: The futuristic, neon-lit concrete paths of Shanghai. The perfect background to any adventure – an incomparable setting for those cosmopolitan dreams. As I leave Periférico on my way to Reforma and see the giant flag waving over Campo Marte. I realize I wouldn’t change this for a neurotic, five minute-delayed tram ride. Even if tomorrow these roads are blocked to infinity.
-CDMX, Jan 2018