Friday, July 20, 2007

Drive to Jaipur

This morning began with a drive from Agra to the old Moghul city of Fatehpur Sikri. It really is beautiful. An enormous fort city with big palaces and gorgeous architecture. Unfortunately after the city was abandoned (due to the shortage of water) most of the precious stones, rugs, curtains, and murals were either stolen or destroyed. However, it was one of those places that you can close your eyes and imagine how magnifiicent it was at its height.
After that, we drove a very long 202 km to the"Pink City," Jaipur. I am staying at a former Rajasthan palace which is quite lovely. It's set back off the busy (read, noisy) street which is like a peaceful oasis. I have the rest of the day at leisure and then tomorrow it's a full day of city tour and market shopping.
No internet access in the room, so no pics. :( However, my plans have changed slightly and I will be coming back to the U.S. on Sunday night, arriving in Newark Monday morning. I'm happy to be in Jaipur, but very happy to be coming home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One of the 7 Wonders...

Due to some scheduling conflicts, I was unable to visit the Taj Mahal at sunset. However, we were there in the middle of the day (full sun) which made the marble shine with a beautiful white brilliance. Enjoy some of the pics!

Encounters of the Animal Kind

The following are animals (or winged creatures) that I have been close enough to in the past 24 hours to catch some disease from:
1) Grasshopper (okay, no disease-danger here)
2) Rat
3) Dog
4) Donkey
5) Horse
6) Cow/Bull
7) Pig
8) Monkey
9) Camel


I arrived in Agra approximately 2 hours late, but that was to be expected. I was in the 1st class air conditioned car and had my own compartment, which was really great. I did a little reading and managed to drift off between stations. Now I am in my hotel room at the Howard Park Plaza, quite nice, relaxing and preparing for my city tour of Agra and then the sunset visit to the Taj Mahal. I hope to get some pictures up tonight when I get home!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Yes, She's Alive

Yes yes, I am's been an interesting past few days. Interesting and frustrating--but in my opinion, that is Delhi in a nutshell.
Sunday night I arrived in Delhi late and just went to the hotel. Monday I toured New Delhi (India Gate, Parliament Building & Gov't Buildings--just the outside--Humayun's Tomb, and the Qutab Minar) which was nice and good to see all those things. In the afternoon we crossed over to Old Delhi to visit the Jamma Masjid and Red Fort. I got into a screaming match at the Jamma because this man wanted to show me around and I kindly declined but he persisted. So he followed ME around and then as I was leaving he demanded money. That was fun. The rest of the afternoon was somewhat peaceful until I decided to wander about Connaught Place looking for a little store to buy Coke, etc. from. I have learned the art of saying NO very well. :)
Tuesday morning I lingered in the hotel until noon and then went to the airport for my flight to Varanasi--the City of Learning and Burning. Learning because the Banaras Hindu University is here and Burning because of the cremation ghats. Varanasi is completely dirty and foul. There are hundreds of cows around here which leads to millions of cow pies and goats, and pigs, and kids and trash and on and on and on...The temples are nice alongside the Ganges (which is quite gross itself).
I was taken on an "evening cruise along the Ganges." Okay--my idea of cruise and their idea of cruise: not the same thing! :) I was in this dreadfully small wooden boat with two guys rowing (ROWING!) and my guide. The current is so incredibly strong (of course flowing the opposite way we wanted to go) and at one point our little dingy (sp?) was caught in between two much larger vessels. I saw my life flash before me and said a quick Our Father and beg for forgiveness for dying in the Ganges! :) We finally made it to the place where the priests perform their evening pujas and watched from the water. It was a nice ceremony even though I couldn't understand a word! :)
As we flew down the river back to my hotel, the guide informed me that I had to be up and outside at 5:00 A.M.!!!! "To see the sunrise." Alright. Went to bed around 10, rose diligently at 5:00 and went downstairs. There was no sun. Too many clouds. I was thrilled. Got into another dingy to travel UP the river again to one of the cremation ghats. There I did see a body wrapped in a colorful cloth. Apparently if a body is wrapped in a colorful shroud, it means it is a man who has lived a long time, hence seen all the colors of life. Then we were whisked downstream to the main cremation ghat, where I saw no bodies, but saw the piles of wood and the smoke from the burning.
We set off on foot to "explore" the city. Which really means wind your way in and out of these teeny tiny narrow alleyways, avoiding cow pies, pickpockets and anything else that looks suspicious. We saw lots of temples, and the Banaras Hindu University.
Now I am killing time until I get whisked away to the train station at 9:00 p.m. I am on the overnight train to Agra.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Final Night in Kerala

Tonight is my last night in the beautiful state of Kerala. It's been another lazy day here in the South, but good overall. I've done so much writing (an especially good form of therapy for me) here over the past 10 days, and reading as well. One of my neighbors from Coconut Lagoon, Penny, gave me two books that she had finished and I've already devoured both of them. They have a magnificent little book house here where I donated her two books and another that I had finished on the trip as well. I scoured the shelves for something to jump out at me and was impressed by the various titles left behind by previous travelers. There are books in German, French, Russian, Hindi, Malayalam (the offical language of the state of Kerala), and of course English. (I found two copies of The Da Vinci Code in English, one in French and one in German!)
After perusing the chaos that is the bookshelves, I settled upon a fictional work by Irish author Joseph O'Connor called Star of the Sea. It takes place in the winter of 1847 aboard a ship littered with fleeing refugees setting sail for New York. Murder, intertwined lives and tales of passion, hate and past regrets fill their 26 days on the Star of the Sea! I've just started it today, but find it easy to read and quite intriguing.
Marari Beach Resort is very nice and the pool villa is something I could have only dreamed about, but I prefer the property of Coconut Lagoon. Here, when I sit on my porch, I am surrounded by walls and completely secluded from any passers-by. There aren't as many areas for lounging, reading or writing--in fact, I haven't found one place I would comfortably settle down and crack open my book. The staff is friendly and attentive, almost to the point of being TOO attentive, but there's something missing that the others had at CL. There was a gaiety in their eyes and their smiles were real.
Tomorrow is a full day of travel. Up early for breakfast and pack--then drive an hour or two to the Kochi airport. I fly to back to Delhi via Bombay on Kingfisher again. This time, I have the copy of the credit card that was used to book the flight in case any agents want to get uppity again! Hopefully all will go well and I will be in Delhi for dinner. There I lose the luxury of free internet but gain the companion of television. Give and take, give and take.
Monday I tour New Delhi in the morning and Old Delhi in the afternoon and then get to go to a real live Indian family's house for dinner. :) Actually, Tapas, the person with whom I have been dealing since being in India, invited me to dinner at his house with his family. Should be an interesting evening. Then it's up early Tuesday and back to the airport for my flight to Varanasi.
I hope to be able to blog a bit over those few days, but who knows. I am trying to mind my Rupees for presents and special treats for friends (and myself). Normally the rate isn't terrible if I can manage to get to an Internet cafe. The hotel where I am staying in Delhi (and stayed two weeks ago) charges over $10 an hour for internet! Yes, 450 Rs. per hour!! Absurd! At an Internet cafe it is ~40 Rs (or less) for 1/2 hour ...which is about $1.00. (Currently, most hotels and banks are giving the exchange of 1 Rupee for $38.95.)
Off to dinner!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Marari Beach Pics

My pool villa

My pool!

The Arabian Sea

More pictures to come later...

Saying Goodbye to Coconut Lagoon

I left Coconut Lagoon this morning with my new friends waving goodbye as the boat left the reception area. They were all so sweet and wonderful and I miss seeing their faces already. "Pierre" even came to see me off and we talked about how much fun we had together and how we wish it weren't over so quickly.
Marari is a beautiful place--more trees than Coconut Lagoon--and situated on the Arabian Sea. The water is too dangerous to take a swim, but the view is quite nice. Their pool is currently closed for maintenace, so to compensate, they upgraded me to a private pool villa! It is awesome. They also have free wi-fi, so you will finally be able to see some of my pictures from the past week. ENJOY!

A view out over the pond at the poolside area

A look out across the lake.

My bathroom.

A beautiful sunset on the lake.

The awesome staff at the restaurant.

Me (looking chunky in the sari) and Thomas

Me and "Pierre."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some random things that have been going on inside my head, things that have been said to me, and other casual observances I have made...
1) When being wrapped in the sari last night, the girl said to me "You're a little bit fat so this sari will look a little different than mine." THAT'S good for one's self-esteem.
2) Tonight at dinner my waitress (not Molly) asked how much I weigh. When I told her, she said "that's okay."
3) There is a sign by the pool that says one must shower before getting in...that's normal in the US too but how many of us actually do it? Here--everyone has!
4) When asked why I am not married, I replied, "I haven't found the right man yet." Girl's response to me: "You are not looking hard enough."
5) One of the waiters also told me that I look like a monkey. Not quite sure what that means! Suggestions and hypotheses welcome.

That's about it for now...really wanted to share #1 and #2--I couldn't help but chuckle, especially at the "you're a little bit fat" comment. Ahhh, Indians!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Monday Monday. It's been a rather uneventful day and rather than bore you with mundane details, I will just say that it has been a good day. Another wonderful massage and facial and the day ended with my new found friends at the restaurant. My sari-wrapping schooling has been postponed until tomorrow evening.
I had kiwi again for dessert...and I cannot understand why Mr. Dell doesn't like kiwi! It's one of the best fruits ever! My hamster, Buddy, loved kiwi. It was his favorite treat. (That and crawling around on the guest room bed to music that I specifically chose for him and pretended that he was doing a gymnastics routine!)
I wish I had more to say but perhaps it's okay to be quiet for the night. The clouds have parted tonight and there are about a million stars visible in the sky. I think I may take a walk by the lake and drink in the view. Good night!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dinner tonight was amazing. I know I keep talking about the food, but it is unbelievable! Let me back up for a second...
Went to yoga at 6:30 and was, once again, the only student. It's actually kind of fun being the only one. My instructor, Navil, lives about 25 km away and drives back and forth every day, regardless of the weather, on a motorcycle. Due to the condition of the roads here, it takes him about 1 hour one way. YUCK! He's a super sweet guy who is currently feeling a little under the weather with a cold. I enjoy talking with him and getting his perspective on things. He's readily shared a lot of his daily burdens (like living with the stigma of having a mother who is Christian and a father who is Hindu, not being allowed into one of the homes of a friend due to caste, poor living conditions, etc) which really makes me feel for him and respect him at the same time because he seems joyful. Honest joy comes through even in the midst of struggles, he maintains his joy. He also told me tonight that I should become a yoga instructor. :) Who knows...
DINNER! About 8:00 I went over to the restaurant and saw Molly (my waitress). One of the most incredible parts of this ayurveda package is that the restaurant is making food solely for me, based on my vata-pitta dosha. Most others visiting here have the buffet, but mine is brought out beautifully prepared and presented. Tonight I started with basil water and minestrone soup. Quite tastey. Moving on from there I had a nicely cut salad of cucumbers and carrots. (Add a glass of pineapple juice just for fun!) The main course was chapathi (yum!), vegetables cooked in some sort of yellow-ish delicious gravy, a combination of beans and banana flowers with grated coconut, and some steamed rice. Dessert was a plate of fruit including the juiciest mangos in the world (juicy juicy mangoes!), kiwi fruit, pineapple, apples, grapes, oh--and some caramel flan and a small piece of chocolate cake.
But even better than the food is the waitstaff. Molly is incredibly sweet and absolutely beautiful. Binitha is going to wrap me in a sari tomorrow after dinner and make me a true Keralite! Saravana is a guy that just makes you smile with one look. Jai speaks 5 languages and dreams of moving to France to start his own hotel. They are all absolutely incredible and their lives are hard, yet they smile every single day. I admire their resilience and joi de vivre. They are wonderful friends to have for this week, and people I know I will remember always.
The day could be classified as the following: lazy. Let's up and had my massage and steam, had breakfast (more on that in a minute), laid by the pool, took a shower, had lunch (more on that also), sat by the pool again reading and writing, now emailing. Later I will do the evening yoga and then go to dinner. Rough!
Last night I enjoyed a (private) sunset cruise. It was only private because no other guests showed up. But it was nice having two young gentlemen explaining the different parts of the lake, the wildlife and their lives to me. It still makes me smile to see the look on their faces when I tell them that I live alone, without my parents. That blows their mind! It's also a great fascination that I am an only child. We discussed these things and a few others as the wind picked up a bit and the boat rocked a little more. Thankfully the sun went down before my lunch came up. Made it back to shore and that was the end of the night for me. :)
I've met some interesting travellers here: there's a British-Indian family (Herr D, if you went for the darker girls, I think you'd like this bird), an Irish couple on their honeymoon, a pair of South African nurses who I had dinner with the first night, and a French couple who is rude.
Breakfast: Fresh fruit and fresh juice. When I say fresh, I mean fresh--I actually saw them shoving the pineapple into the juicer. The rest consisted of a thin, pancake like item called a dosha (?), yogurt, and tea. Lunch was fantastic as well! Once the chef learned that I don't particularly care for spicey food, the meals have been outstanding. Not only is it delicious, but it is just beautiful to look at...the colors are dazzling! I can't recall any of the names of the items I had today for lunch, but I will pay more attention tonight at dinner.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's been a quiet and peaceful day so far for me. I opted out of the yoga this morning and took a nice long walk instead. Then promptly at 8:00 I had my massage and daily steam. I go back to the center in about one hour for my facial. Should be good. In the meantime I have been reading one of my favorite magazines, Body and Soul, out by the pool, wandering aimlessly around the beautiful grounds, eating way too much food and writing a bit. You might ask how this could in any way be interpreted as anything less than magical. Well, it is and it isn't.
Honestly, I have been very shaky today, emotionally. For those of you who know me well know that I have a huge wall that I have brilliantly installed around myself. I shield myself from any potential pain and keep others at a safe distance on the other side. I guess for me, if I admit I need help or admit that I am sick, then it's giving in--it's a failure. What I have been dealing with intensely over the past few days is how not-alone I really am in this world and how I have to break down my walls and let people inside.
Too much silence is my worst enemy. My head plays dirty tricks on me and I begin to believe the illusions and lose faith in myself. It's funny how traveling half way across the world has opened my eyes in a much deeper sense. At home, I think it's easier to put on the mask of "I'm doing alright" and push on in spite of what is really going on or how I really feel.
I don't know what God's plan is for me, none of us ever do, but I feel as if this trip is a preparation for something; Boston, a relationship, or maybe the end of something. I'm not sure what is in store and I know that I cannot dwell on what might or might not happen. I struggle with being present even in the midst of this serene and beautiful place. Maybe these "dark nights of the soul" are indications that my prayer life is suffering, or on the contrary, that it is flourishing. I've been talking to God a lot since my arrival in India, but now I think I need to LISTEN.
I plan to be pro-active and attempt this horrifying thing called 'asking for help.' But while I am here, situated on a lake and surrounded by God's own creation, I will be happy. I will pray. I will listen.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Coconut Lagoon

Well, I am very surprised and ecstatic to see that the luxurious Coconut Lagoon Resort has a FREE business center! This place is simply breathtaking! There's so much to do and see with everything from backwater cruises, canoe trips, bird watching, butterfly garden tours, yoga, ayurveda treatments, sunset cruises, cooking demonstrations--and I could go on and on and on! I am staying in a Mansion Villa which is a two-story room wih the 4-poster bed being up in the loft. The bathrooms are OUTSIDE! It is my own private bath which has four high walls with an open ceiling. It is so cool. Unfortunately I won't be able to post any pictures since I am not on my laptop, but believe me when I say this hotel is amazing!
For lunch I had a mango flavored soup, marsala spiced prawns, kerala fish curry and organic brown rice. This is, by far, the best meal I've had in India. (And they have Coke products!) I know I am going to be 100% spoiled by the end of these 7 days.
This afternoon I am having the first of my ayurvedic treatments--a massage. Following that bliss, I will particiate in the yoga and meditation. Then I will wander over to dinner and perhaps splurge and have a cocktail poolside this evening. But it is early to bed because yoga is at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

My First Time

At the advice of a friend, I have to start the story out right: SO THERE I WAS...
Sitting in the waiting room at my tiny little ayurvedic spa just waiting. Then this tiny little woman came out and asked me to follow her. Into a little room I went, no Enya in the background or soft cushy table to lie on. The room was simple with pale pink walls and a large wooden table situated near the window. Bindu (my therapist) looked at me and said "Undress!" Well, okay, I'd only known her for five minutes, but why not go ahead and strip?! And unlike anything in the U.S., she stood there and waited for me to undress--all the way.
Then I was instructed to hop up on the table and lie face up. I have to say that I was a little insecure and uncomfortable at this point. I am not one of those people who celebrates nudity (even when alone). Then she began pouring this warm oil all over me and gently massaged it in. It was incredibly relaxing and soothing and I became more at ease throughout the hour. It was a very rigorous massage, and she didn't ask how much pressure I like. I had more oil on me than Hulk Hogan at ANY wrestling match!
At the end I was put into a pressure cooker. Well, actually a steam chamber where I sat on this stool and my head was sticking out of a hole cut in a board. I felt like one of those table decorations at Halloween! At one point Bindu asked me if I was sweating--uh ya! I am a sweater and my goodness, all the toxins and impurities had to come out because when I stepped out of there, I was swimming in my own sweat. Lovely!
It was an incredible experience, something very simple and loving about it. I mean, this woman was all in my space but it felt nice and reassuring. There's something incredibly soothing about someone washing your hair and cleaning your back for you. I felt drained afterwards and needed a glass of water, or a cigarette... :)
This morning (in about an hour) I leave for my week-long ayurveda/yoga retreat. But to my knowledge, there is no internet access anywhere at this resort. It's all about getting back to nature (no tv's in the room) and leaving the world behind. But who knows, I could be pleasantly surprised! So at this point it looks like I will be disappearing from the blogging world for about a week. NAMASTE!


Sorry it's been awhile since the last post, but last night was kind of crazy and I wasn't sure if there was internet access in the room. SO...a brief recap of yesterday's events:
You can go over to G's blog to catch a brief synopsis of my wonderful experience at the domestic airport in Bombay. That was fun! Actually it wasn't too bad, but I knew when G asked to speak to the travel rep. that this poor guy was in for it! G told me that in order to get things done (or your point across) one must yell and pull rank. So G did just that. :) THANKS!
The flight was great--a little bumpy, but great. Kingfisher Airlines really does spoil its customers. Water as soon as you board, a full meal (which they called a snack), complimentary headsets, individual tv's, more water, tea, coffee, and pretty much anything else you request. This flight was less crowded than my first domestic flight, and that was nice. And I think there was some sort of conspiracy because the only other white girl on the flight sat next to me! :-)
Last night I checked into the hotel and I was escorted to the Kochi Cultural Center where I was going to see a Kathakali Dance. Men dress up in elaborate costumes and re-enact scenes from various epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata (sp?). I arrived about one hour early and was able to see one man in the process of putting on his makeup. It's really cool and really an art form. As I was sitting there (alone) watching this man put make up on better than I EVER could, a woman came upstairs and sat down next to me. We started talking and turns out she is an ayurvedic doctor. Since I was the only person that was there to see the show last night, she asked me if I could wait until Thursday night when more people were scheduled to be there. She also offered (since I was so inconvenienced) to give me a 2-hour ayurvedic treatment Thursday before the show!! HELL YES!
This morning I was awakened at 5:00 a.m. by this chanting over a loudspeaker from a nearby temple. This happened right when I got here last night and thought maybe it was a once-a-day kind of thing. Guess I was wrong. It's very drab chanting, not the kind of thing that would encourage me to get up and go to the temple! So, I laid around for a bit and then had breakfast. My driver and guide came at 9:00 and we set out to explore the old city of Kochi.
Our first stop was the St. Francis Church, now belonging to the Church of South India. It was once Anglican, but after Independence, the church split from the Church of England. It was simple but nice. It's also the site of Vasco de Gama's tomb. His remains have actually been transported to Lisbon, but the tomb is still there.
Next was Jew Town and the city's only surviving synagogue. My guide told me that there are only about 30-40 Jews left in the entire state of Kerala! The synagogue again was simple but nice. (No pictures allowed!) Mantacherry Palace was the palace of the kings of the state and have very intricate and charming (but not very sophisticated) murals on various walls. The entire first floor is a Hindu temple (no non-Hindus allowed).
I also saw the chinese fishing nets that are situated on the Arabian Sea. These enormous nets are attached to long tree trunk-like things that are lifted up, submerging the nets for 3-4 minutes. Then they lower the tree-trunk things and the nets come up full of fish and prawns and other Arabian Sea paraphenalia. Quite interesting.
There isn't too much to see in Kochi, but it was a nice morning. (Pictures to come later tonight after the Kathakali dance.) I am a little tired due to lack of caffeine, running around town, being further hasseled by shopkeepers (one guy told me I was going to Hell because I wouldn't come in his store), and waking up at 5:00 a.m.! I am hopeful that my ayurvedic massage will rejeuvenate me!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Lost in Bombay

The day started off very strangely, when at 2:00 a.m. I had some random dude call my room and scream very weird (and unintelligible) things into the phone. This happened twice. I have to say, it was a little unsettling.
This morning I went out to the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay University, St. Xavier's College (YA!), and managed to get extraordinarily lost. Not the kind of lost that can be remedied by turning around or turning left down this street to get back to the main street. Oh no--I was completely and totally LOST.
I don't really know how I managed to get lost. I walked around a bit, went to the ATM, put more minutes on my cell phone and thought I was headed back to the Prince of Wales Museum. I don't know where in the world I was, but I managed to find my way onto these very charming little side streets. At one point I was in the banking district, also near an all girls Catholic school, and found a cute little calf wandering the streets as aimlessly as I was.
Had lunch at Cafe Mondegar, recommended by G. It was great! Lots of good beer, good food, and very friendly and fast service. I had roast chicken with some kind of amazing sauce and a Kingfisher! It was quite tastey. I saw one very cute guy there, but he had a better figure than me and I thought that could be a problem. :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Pictures, finally!

Okay, all the pictures from today (and Delhi) are here!!!


Gandhi's Home in Bombay

Gandhi's room and spinning wheel

Jain Temple

Me and My New Friends in the Hanging Gardens
Lord Krishna's Flower

Victoria Terminal (train station)

Good Morniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing Mumbaiiiiiiii!

Since I had no luck at Leopold's last night in being "discovered," I decided to take a morning trip to a section of South Bombay called Malabar Hill. I was up early due to the wind whipping and howling quite loudly this morning and decided to go ahead and get moving.
I found a taxi driver at my hotel, a nice little Muslim man whose beard and hair was a very unnatural shade of red. As we drove along, I noticed other men whose hair looked similar. Is this a dye of some sort? Didn't ask--his English wasn't the greatest. So, we started off to Malabar Hill and first stopped at Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum. Gandhi lived in this Gujarati style house from 1917 to 1934 and it was here in November of 1921 that he conducted a 4-day fast in order to restore peace to the city. There is a library inside and hundreds of pictures depicting various stages of Gandhi's life. His room and spinning wheel are enclosed in a glass room which really preserves the spirit of this great man.
Next we stopped at the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple. It is by far one of the most beautiful houses of worship I've seen. I don't know much about Jains or their religion other than they are peace-loving. Many of them wear masks to avoid breathing in even tiny insects. The temple itself is beautiful--elaborately painted and idols everywhere. I felt very weird taking photos, so I only took 2 on the outside of the temple itself. I was also not allowed in the inner sanctuary, but I was able to look in and see the people adorning their idols with flowers and ringing bells.
Back into the cab and we made our way to the Hanging Gardens and Kamala Nehru Park. It was at the Hanging Gardens that I met my new friend, Prantash. He was walking along and engaged me in conversation within minutes of my arrival in the gardens. He showed me the Cannonball Tree which produces Lotus Flowers (the flower of Lord Shiva). He was quite impressed I knew who Shiva is. He also showed me a quite beautiful flower of Lord Krishna and also a topiary of Lord Hanuman (the Monkey God). He was stopping everyone as they passed, so I met a group of people from Germany who are visiting Bombay for a wedding. (Sorry, Herr D, I didn't find out where they were from...but they weren't your type of birds anyway!) I enjoyed the gardens very much, it was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
We drove past the Haji Ali, a mosque dedicated to Mr. Haji Ali who drowned here whilst on a pilgrimmage to Mecca a few centuries ago. Then we just drove back to the hotel so I could have lunch and decide where the rest of the day will take me! Maybe this evening I will stroll over to the 5-Star Taj Mahal Hotel across from the Gateway of India and splurge on a cocktail at the Apollo Bar!
Pictures are up!

A Few Things...

Some random thoughts have been coarsing through my little brain and I thought I'd share some of them:
1) As chaotic and crazy as the driving is, no one shouts or screams or even curses to themself!
2) McDonald's has a 20 Rupees menu--that's about $.50 (no, I have not eaten there!)
3) Horns can mean several things: "Hey, I'm over here about to pass you so don't even THINK of merging over," "GO!," "Go on and pass me if it's that important to you," "You drive too slowly," "Don't stand there," "Pay attention to me!," and several others. It's all very interesting.
4)I am rather unaffected by the devestating poverty that surrounded me as we drove back to the hotel this morning. What is the matter with me?! How can I be so numb? Perhaps somewhere in my subconscious I prepared myself and told myself to be hard. I feel guilty for not being more affected, but what can I do? I pray that God will help me understand how all of this works and how I am dealing with it--or not dealing with it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Just a few pics

Churchgate Station (Bombay)
A tomb in Lodi Gardens (Delhi)

India Gate
More pictures later!

Goodbye Delhi Sun

Well, I had written a simply fascinating blog piece and then was rudely booted off the internet, compliments of the Fariyas Hotel, Colaba, Bombay. UGH! Well, I don't really have anything better to do so I will try to recap most of what I'd said...
I have arrived safely in Bombay with very little trouble really. I was a little concerned this morning when I saw the headlines of the paper screaming that Bombay is under water. They had an amazing amount of rain yesterday which killed 5 people (drowning, landslide, electrocution) and halted most of the trains and everyday functions of the city. BUT, with not too much trouble and only a few minor annoyances, I am here in Bombay, which I already like a lot.
The day began (for the most part) in the domestic terminal of Delhi's airport without air conditioning. I thought that was just how things were, until about 5 minutes before we boarded and I suddenly felt a blast of cool air. The domestic terminal is utter chaos, in my Western opinion. "Security" was fine and quick, but the boarding process alone was enough to make me want to scream! No boarding zones or lining up by row--oh no, it's just a mad dash for the doorway. Then they load you onto buses (did I spell it correctly?) that drive you and 50 of your best, smelly friends out to the plane. I found my row to be empty, thankfully, and I scooted in next to the window. Everything was just great until Mr. 11E sat down. He had some serious sinus issues. It sounded like a 300 pound man was flat on his back snoring his brains out! Not only did it sound like snoring, but it was very juicy and at one point I thought that all the mucous had oozed out of this man's face and onto me. After a quick check, I was grateful to find that nothing had been snotted on.
We landed and into the rain we went. Back onto another bus to the baggage claim area and then we had to wait about 30 minutes for our bags. Thankfully both of mine made it safely, albeit a bit wet.
Off to the car and then to the Fairyas Hotel in South Bombay. It's a nice hotel with WI-FI in the room--woo hoo--and it's only a short distance from some of South Bombay's best sites, including the Taj Mahal Hotel, Gateway of India, Prince of Wales Museum and Bombay University. (Tomorrow I am headed to the University for some really awesome apparel!) I was incredibly late getting into Bombay--just like G predicted--and missed Mass. So I walked up Colaba Causeway and found Leopold's...a cute (and charming) little restaurant that G, and my guide books, recommended. It's actually a favorite spot of Bollywood directors scouting Westerners as extras (according to Fodor's). Unfortunately I was not discovered tonight--perhaps I will venture back there and bust out some of my amazing "screw-in-the-light-bulb" Bollywood moves.
I like the feel of Bombay even though I've only been here a few hours. It has a NYC vibe to it--young, hip and big. It feels more like home.
And no, for all of you who are wondering, I've not yet seen a cow in the road!