A Travellerspoint blog

Last thoughts before leaving India

semi-overcast 34 °C

Written on July 9…

I feel like there's a million things to say and write...but nothing comes to my mind right now....I hate when that happens, as I will log off, walk away and immediately think of 100 stories, will make mental notes to write them down, but won't...wachha gonna do!

First, I must apologize, as I have totally failed at showing you India! I have posted some pics (finally, it’s about time, on the last day! Hehehe), but really, it’s such a few pics, for such a broad country! I feel like everything I’ve seen was picture worthy. Almost every scene should have been captured..it would have been the only way to properly portray this place…I was already feeling a little inadequate on the pic front, but it got much worst in Jodhpur, where a Danish girl showed me some of her pics….it totally put me to shame! She had the same feeling as me: India is about the colours! They are everywhere, and are wonderful! However, as I only have a few pics with great colours, she has a ton (ok ok, it probably helped that she was here for almost 6 months! but still!). Anyway, all of that to say that I’m sorry about doing such a poor job at portraying India. I’ll nevertheless post the pics if/when I get them, from my first memory card, as there were some good ones…

I’m leaving tonight with mixed feelings.
On one side, I wished I’d stayed longer and had more time to see more places! On the other hand, now that it’s almost over, I’m kinda glad. Indian food is very good, but it’s always the same (parantha for breakfast (it’s like a chapatti, but bigger and takes a bit different). Lunch and dinner made of Dal, rice, chapatti and some mix veggies) and it, so far in my trip, almost always tastes the same! In other words…I’m a bit tired of it! Hehehe Furthermore, monsoon season is about to start (has already started in the south) which means almost non-stop raining, with the resulting floods and delays/cancellation in trains and buses. Finally, tourist season is picking-up quite a bit here, with Europeans and Koreans everywhere (it’s their summer vacation there and many of them travel I guess!), so this changes the scenery and feel quite a bit.
Really finally: I’m quite a bit tired of having the exact same conversation over and over and over again! Where are you from? What’s your name? Are you married? What’s your father work? Mother work? What do you do in Canada? Hehehe, I have had “conversations” with people who barely speak English just by guessing which of the above that person what asking me and answering accordingly! Hehehe, fun once or twice, boring after a while! hehehe
Overall, I would have been happy to stay here longer, but I’m also happy to leave and explore a new continent! Hehehe
About the rain here, I must admit that I’m a bit puzzled at how they handle it. Let’s face it, monsoon is not a new phenomenon, yet they don’t seem to be prepared for it at all! In Johpur, it rained for an entire day, and by mid-day, the street was covered by several inches of water, essentially flooded from only a few hours of rain! I can only imagine after several days/weeks!!! My question is why do they not have better trenches and/or canals??? It’s not exactly rocket science!! I don’t have an answer to this! As a result, entire cities get flooded, people die (albeit a small number considering that there are 1B of them!!), roads get destroyed and trains/buses get cancelled! I cannot believe that there’s nothing at all that can be done! Especially if it has been happening since the beginning of time and will keep on happening for ever!!!
I chose not to go to Jaisalmer as I was afraid that it would rain again and prevent me from coming back to Delhi on time for my flight (original plan: Jpdhpur-Amristar to see Mouchi, visit the Golden temple (holy sik site) and get a copy of the CD (with my pics) that he has. When I couldn’t get a train ticket until July 13th, alternate plan: Jodhpur-Jaisalmer for a couple of days, then come back to Delhi today and go straight to the airport. Actual turn of events. Massive rain in Jodhpur, stay there 1.5 extra day, spend 1.5 day in Delhi…not as much fun, but at least I’ll most probably make it on the plane!!, and Mouchi will mail me the CD…

Things I will not miss:
The lack of etiquette! hehehe I have heard many people fart, up to a man across the road at a park!!! (however, I must admit that Indian food does make you fart! hehehe). People also burp quite a lot. I once had a shop owner burp loudly (there was no attempt at keeping it quiet) and at first I was like ???, but seeing no hint of sorryness, I just moved on! hehehe
Spitting is also quite nasty. Men here chew tobacco (or something like it) and, of course, have to spit regularly...yak! hehehe I'm glad our men don't do it (as much)! I'd have a really hard time finding a "spitter" attractive! hehehe
On a final note of unattractivess: it seems to be perfectly correct here to pick your nose (I've only seen men do it though)...hmmm, not so hot! hehehe
I will also not miss being constantly observed. I litterally cannot walk for 5 minutes and not sit for more than 2 minutes before someone comes to talk to me. After a few minutes they move on and someone else invariably comes along (with the same exact conversation questions.)
I will not miss the beggars. There aren't that many, but I always feel bad. From mothers with their small child to handicapped adults, via children...it's always sad. However, I don't know where they picked it up, but in Jodhpur, kids perfectly well dressed, clean, with clean clothes and shoes, would come up to me and ask for 100R (which is a shite load of money here -some people live on less than 100R/day), when I'd say no, they'd go "2R, 5R, 10R, 20R.." ad so on! I'd be like NO!!! No WAY!!! GO!!! I guess it works sometimes, but if I've met any kids/or people in general, who clearly don't need it, it's them! t was so weird!
I will also not miss the pollution here. The air pollution is quite harsh, leaving a fairly think layerof dirt on me every day (most noticeable when I blow mynose - sorry for the details! hehehe)
Finally, I will not miss almost always paying more than anyone else!!!! I can't wait for an actual "fixed price' (even shops with that mention here are not really, you can always get a better price - always!)

Things I will miss:
hmmm hard to say, many things though. I will certainly miss the lack of etiquette, and being an attraction ! hehehe
I will mostly miss the atmosphere, the crazyness, the seemingly lack of order (but it somehow always works out!). I will miss people coming up to me every 5 minutes to talk and take pictures! I will definitely miss the smile on kids faces when I wave hello or buy something from them (prime example: I went to buy this samosa at a shop. The kid - maybe 12yrs old- originally turns to his father, who tells him to serve me. The smile that comes on his face!!! He asks me how many I want, I say 1, I ask how much, he hops over to my side to give me my samosa and hops his way back with my money, all while smiling from ear to ear!!! hehehe, so cute and heart-warming!
I will miss the colours, the smells, the sights! I will miss the food as well (not right now, but eventually! hehehe) On that note, I tried a local food of Jodhpur when I was there. It's a chilly pepper stuffed with something (potato I think), dipped in batter and deep fried. They're sold in most shops there. I went to buy something else, and the owner asked me why not to try (only 4R), and I though, yeah, why not? So I bought it. It tasted like hell!! I had half a bite and it tasted like jalapeno pepper (deh!!) and hadn't lost any of it's spicyness (I though it may-but I was oh so wrong!!) hehehe I ended up trying to give it to a cow, who wouldn't eat it either ! hahaha! Later that evening the Danish girl (who took so much better pics than me), told me that she had tried an awful deep fried pepper thing! hehehe I said "me too" hehehe, she was like "ahh is was soo bad! I had tears coming down my face and my mouth was on fire, and it just tasted so bad!"
hehehe

Things I was expecting but didn't see:
- People shitting on the side of the road (to be fair, I kinda saw it, but not as I was expecting-not in the middle of the place for everyone to see). I only saw it very early in the morning, on two occasions, and both times, it wasn't an obsene or disgusting event, just life going as it must go when one had no other options. The first time was just outside of Mathura (on the way to Agra), as the bus was going on a country side road. Kids were in the field, fairly far away from us and from one another, doing their thing...we just happened to drive by. The second time was getting here to Delhi, once again very early morning, people were going in a somewhat forested area and around the train tracks...once again, they were in a fairly secluded area, but we just happened to pass by...hehehe, I saw many pee wees on that morning! and some Indian men have massive balls (like very massive)...I wonder what's that all about! hehehe :-) To be fair, these people lived in slums and certainly didn't have any kind of toilet... so what else were they supposed to do? furthermore, they were in the sitting/crouching position that everyone assumes regularly here (kinda like sitting but your butt doesn't touch the ground), the only difference is that they pants were off (obviously!)
- I didn't experience any realy stinky Indians... I was kinda execting it from past experience, but everyone I met smelled ok (unnoticeable), and I noticed that the vast majority of people wash at least once a day (in the morning), no matter if they live in town or in the slums...
-I wasn't molested, attacked, groped (except by an old man who touched my knee in a bus - big deal!!) or offered shady propositions... From what other people had told me, I was almost expected to get mugged at every corner! Actually, I just got offered hash for the first time tonight, which I believe is triggered by the massive influx of white people (it's litterally day and night from the first time I was here! The shops also sell different stuff - clearly geared toward tourists- as opposed to the first time I was here!)

To conclude:
A couple of random remarks:
1- Everyone here (shop keepers) seems to know about French Canada!?!?! They ask me where I'm from, then ask me what part! Many even guess Mtl right away!! Funny because I haven't met a single Canadian (let alone French speaking) since I've been here!!!

2- All the hotel staff (cleaning, reception, room service, etc) are men. I've never seen a woman working in a hotel. The same applies to restaurants! Come to think of it, the only place I've seen women is in the police and army force!!, and maybe once or twice in a shop, but even there, rarely!. Women are almost all housewives here!!!!

So that's all I can think of right now for India...I overall loved my experience here and would definitely like to come back one day!!!

P.S. I'm going to Madrid next. I'm still tired of living in my backpack, but will just have to bear it one more month (arrggghh, life is SO difficult ;-P), as changing my flights and living in Van for 1 month would have cost me pretty much the same thing as going to Europe..so overall a fairly easy decision. Madrid, here I come!!!

P.P.S. I bought a new purse today and immediately felt bad toward my old one, my "faithful companion". I bought the new one because the zipper of my old (and let's admit it, beat-up) one was giving and was seriously starting to not zip properly (would open from anywhere, sometimes, and I could always fix it, but I could tell the end was near). Well, I didn't switch my stuff rightaway, and went about with my old purse, and it is the moment it chose ot officially not zip up at all! I like to think that my old faithful companion knew it could finally die peacefully! Thank you dear old purse, you were beautiful (but oh so dirty!) and I like to think that thank's to you, I didn't lose any of my important stuff! xxx

Posted by Mistrale 02:30 Archived in India Comments (0)

Jodhpur

the most beautiful city I've visited so far!

sunny 35 °C

Written on July 9...

Finally some pics!!!
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This is a brief view of the old city of Jodhpur, which is within the walls of the Fort (following pics). The blue houses are from a tradition where the Brahmins (religious cast) could paint their houses blue. Now many people also do it as this colour is thought to have "insect repellent" properties, as well as keeping the houses cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter (it's magic! hehehe)

The following pics are of the fort, which is where the Maharajat of the area has lived (and still does) for centuries. The site had an audio tour (when you wear the little earphones and press on a number when you get to a dedicated station) which was absolutely wonderful! It was the best tour (after the Taj) that I've even done!

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Interesting story, about opium... In the West, we often think that they smoked it (and/or some derivative of weed) in their long decorated pipes. Well, it turns out that they actually smoked scented tobacco, and drank opium tea instead. ahhh, it's in line with what a French guy had told me in Laos..except that he ate his opium instead of drinking it...

Back to Jodhpur, here are a couple of the paintings found in my room..so pretty! I must admit that I haven't seen that in any other place yet, but it seems to be typical fo Rajasthan (the province)

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First of all, the train was delayed by almost 4 hours, due to heavy rain in Mumbai (where it started). I was taking it from Jaipur to Jodhpur. So instead of arriving around 7-8pm, we arrived at 11pm (I try to never arrive anywhere at night, as everything costs more - rickshaws, hotel rooms, just overall trouble). Luckily, the hotel guy had offered to arrange with a rickshaw to pick me up. I must admit that it felt great to have someone ask me "Are you Mimi?" when I arrived (I was already busy escaping other drivers) and drive me to the hotel, where a room was waiting. Now, the room was clearly not in the price range I had asked for (200-300R), but it was so pretty and clean that I decided to stay there the night (it turned out to be 400R -pretty typical hotel scam, reserve a room at a certain price, but if you show up late, it's bound to be gone, and they give you a costlier room). Oh well, I switched rooms the following day, but at least got these great pics! hehehe

To conclude with the pics (I've only taken very few since buying the new card)

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This is a pretty typical sight in Rajasthan, a camel pulling a trolley or some sort. Unfortunately, I was not able to go on a camel ride, as it rained and killed the day. This also prevented me from going to the city of Jasailmer, which is apparently very very pretty... too bad, I will need to come back to India!!

In an effort to show a bit of the colours...
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This was taken in Delhi, on my arrival at 8am. A spice market.

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Taken from the train, ladies walking on the tracks...

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A regular occurence: an entire family "assaulting" me. It always happens the same, they all come up to me, only 1 speaks english and they ask the same questions as everyone else... Generally they ask for pics, and I have to sit through 5-6, with different members of the family, so this time I turned things around and asked to take a pic to show you the colours these women wear, but they put the kids in front, covering themselves a bit too much unfortunately... Men wear very "regular' boring clothes, but women, all throughout India so far, wear these wonderful colours! I wish we could do the same in Canada...
The dress code is generally one of two things: the sari, and the salawaar camise...I didn't buy a sari, but bought and wore quite a bit, the salawaar camise...which you san see in this (very bad) couple of pics! hehehe

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People really liked that I was wearing that, as I think it showed respect. I got told over and over again that I was very pretty in it (pat on my back! hehehe)...Now that I see those pics, it just kinda looks silly, but "when in Rome, live as the Romans" and It's actually quite comfy!
Cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 01:41 Archived in India Comments (0)

Jaipur

hmmm, not so great!

semi-overcast 35 °C

Written on July 3...
Oh my... Jaipur... Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form a triangle, which is the standard tourist route. From what I've seen, Agra doesn't have much to offer other than the Taj (I heard the Red Fort was nice too, but I didn't bother - after the Taj everything is like :hmmff) and Jaipur DEFINITELY doesn't have much to offer!
I think it's only on the route to make a loop/tourist circuit. It's in the province of Rajasthan, which is known for it's handicrafts and some interesting architecture....It's interesting indeed, but no where near awsome or breathtaking, and the hassle of the town doesn’t make it worth it at all. I arrived last night and am leaving tomorrow for a town called Jodhpur (in the same province, further West). Ideally, I'd like to make it to Jalsaimer (still further West) and ride on a camel (!!!), but I don't think I'll have enough time... we'll see. There are camels around here already, but they are mostly used to pull carts (instead of horse or donkeys)! So cool! Camels are way too cute! and they walk with their head high and proud, their faces seemingly saying "I know I'm hot!" hehehe I haven't got a good pic yet, but will make sure to get one (it's becoming interesting again, now that I have a memory card that fully works!! It's only 512MB - as opposed to the old 2G- but it'll do!).
I think I had a bit of a revelation yesterday, about the Indians... It first came from a movement that they use often, a tilt of the head to the side, which means yes. It's not as clear as our yes sign, as their facial gesture generally is not positive (their face seems to say no), yet it means yes...I was wondering where that came from and why Indians were so hard to deal with... My "not-in-depth-socio-economic-analysis-based-on-no-scientific-data-what-so-ever" tells me that it's a multi-faceted issue, stemming from 1 main thing: the ever present prospect of poverty, or, if you don't get it, someone else will. You see, I've noticed a long time ago that Indians have to be very entrepreneur or they'll be poor. This is oh so ever true, which means that they are looking for a "buck" everywhere, all the time. If you happen to be the current bearer of that $, they'll hound you until they have it, or if it's not them someone else will. As a result, the place is highly corrupted, at every level. Everyone works for a commission, some backshish will get you in or out of anything anywhere, and everyone is out to get as much $ out of everyone else. Us, "rich white" tourists are prime targets in a society where we don't speak the language and don't get half (if that) of what's happening around us. It makes for some (many) frustration and if it doesn’t get to you right away, it eventually will. When that happens, your attitude changes and you become harder to deal with, harsher in your gesture and refusals.
I'm there now. I've been in India for about 1 month and I've changed significantly in my dealings with people (still try to be nice, but less and less), despite that fact that I know I'll get to leave and go home to my nice, easy, cozy life.
So imagine an Indian who was born here and has had to fight like that all his life, an has no prospect of leaving or changing anything! This revelation came as I noticed how men interact with one another (not friends - but anywhere else, at the shop, restaurant, bus/train station, etc). Every single interaction is a mini fight. Faces are long and serious, heads are shaking, hands are flying (they gesture a lot here), words are exchanges, and eventually, one of the two does the side head tilt, which I interpret as being a sort of surrender, or acceptance to the other guy's terms...Essentially, the one who "wins less or loses most" does the tilt...It's not only with men, women as well, but they do less of the talking then men. Older women are more "seasoned". Anyway, it's hard to explain, but it's very clear when you see it here. The same applies to other aspects of daily life. Give 1 inch to an Indian, s/he'll take it, and nudges his/her way to eventually take 1 foot, yard, etc. I think it, once again, comes from having nothing and having to fight for everything. You become a fighter, all the time! I think that's what so difficult for us tourists, we're not used to fighting for everything, and it's definitely a draining experience!
The young Indian I took the bus with for a portion of the trip to Haridwar actually didn't believe me that he would pay the same thing as me for any product if he came to Canada! There is not such thing here. I tried to tell him that we never barther (or almost never-think of how many people dread having to negotiate for a car...it's one of the rare things we negotiate and many people barely do it, if at all!!). There's a price on everything and that's the price everyone pays. He didn't really believe me.. that's how entrenched it is in their mentality and habits. Anything else is almost inconceivable! I told him we were soft in Ca/US, and he told me the story of when he got trained to work in a call centre. The manager said, on how to speak with customer, to treat a 40yrs old American man as you would a 10 yrs old Indian boy. I totally believe it! hehehe (actually, I know from how I got spoke to when I called "my old co's" IT tech support! hehehe).
Anyway, the other aspect is that you have to take whatever comes your way and ask for more. That's how I've always been dealt with since I've been here. You have to push and shove to get in trains and buses (I got elbowed by old ladies who sneaked in front of me and got my seat!-more than once!). The same applies on the roads here, which are the absolute craziest thing ever seen!!! Everyone is going everywhere – mostly in the same direction, but not all, and they simply honk their way through, honking as they cut people off (which happens literally all the time), as the people are not moving fast enough, as people are too close, as…any reason. I tried to see how we could have them start to drive without the constant honking, but I must admit that I don’t really see it…it would involve actual respect of road regulations (getting your driver license is mostly a question of paying the right guy, and it shows), and having dedicated lanes for fast and slow moving vehicles (the variety of size, formats and speeds of vehicles is just amazing, from the bicycle to the bus, via the motorbike, bike rickshaw, motor rickshaw, bike cargo transport, camel/horse/donkey cart, , trucks, cars, etc) I unfortunately don’t see it happen….
Which also brings me to something else. I’ve had that conversation with many people. They are very quick to put themselves down (the Indians), pointing to the faults of their society and stuff. Each time I ask how to fix, no one ever has an answer… that think that’s part of the problem. I’m still debating on whether they have a national pride or not… I’m not sure. I think they do in a sense, but hey are also very realist about their reality (the suckiness of it). They know their habits are not very sanitary (toilets, throwing things everywhere, spitting) and that the system is sooo corrupt (how could they possibly not know!!), and that their society is just plain harsh and dangerous.
I’ve been told, at least in every city by at least 1 person, if not more, to never trust Indians. To always be careful and never trust!!! Would we say that to visitors in Ca??? or even in the US??? Probably not. Not that there aren’t any scam artists in our countries!
This makes me remember a funny bit with the young Indian on the bus ride: He asked me if people got gunned down on the streets a lot (someone taking a gun, right on the street and shooting someone else), maybe not in Canada, but in the US. I said that I’ve never seen it, but it happens, and asked why he was asking. He told me that they did that often in the movies (he said he watched only American movies, no Bollywood), and since movies are a reflection of reality, it must mean that it happened often… I replied that I don’t think movies are always a reflection of reality, and that the proof is that I’ve never seen Indians starting to sing and dance every 5 minutes (every Bollywood movie has at least 5-10 songs - essentially, they’re musicals!), but they always do in the movies! Hehehe, he laughed and agreed with my point! Hehehe I’d love to see the Indians burst out in a song and gig once in a while! It’d lift the mood! Hehehe
So anyway, end of the psycho-analysis of the people of India…for now…
Today I visited the major tourist sites, Amber fort (first fort where the Maharaja lived-before Jaipur existed), City Palace (where the Maharajah moved when the city was built 270 yrs ago -and still lives today) and Jantar Mantar. It’s the largest of 4 sites built in India in the 1700’s. where a man built massive instruments to read the time (sun dial), and the position of the starts and stuff. These devices are made of concrete or rocks, and are apparently quite precise. You’ve probably heard about it (I had from a National geographic doc a while ago), and if not…google it! Hehehe. It was nice to see it in real life. We also stopped by smaller less significant sites, and more annoyingly, to shops of all sorts. Once again, this is back to this whole “trying to make more $$”. I had agreed ot a price of 150R for the day with the rickshaw driver, down from 250R. However, or it probably would have happened anyway, to try to make more $$, he gets commissions if he brings me to a shop and if I stay a certain period of time inside (10-15mins) –it’s the same system in Thailand. So this guy started by bringing me to a gem shop (gem polishing and cutting is a massive industry in India). The jewelry was indeed very nice and seemingly high quality, but the prices were far from cheap and I had no intentions to buy anything. I good faith, I looked around and acted interested. They are very aggressive salesmen here (back to the “if they don’t buy it from you they’ll get it from someone else and you’ll have nothing and be poor” theory). Whatever, he then proceeded to bring me to a textile shop. I said, ok but this is the last, after back to sight seeing. He said ok ok. They also had nice stuff (bags, cousins, bedspreads, scarves, etc) , but it was way too expensive.
-Side note: Shopping here in India so far is my main disappointment! I had expected a gem of cool stuff at good prices. Instead I get shitty stuff (all look like you could pick it up at the Dollar store), and the “somewhat interesting” stuff is freaking outrageously pricey! Big disappointment and I’m struggling (and failing) to find stuff for friends and family. End of side note.
SO anyway. Around 2pm I hadn’t had food yet (and you know how I get without food – aka cranky), after the 3rd shop, I told him no more, back to the hotel. I might as well have told him “please bring me to as many shops as you may think!!”, as he tried for a 4th. I just stayed in the rickshaw, as he was trying to coax me out (verbally) I just stayed put and said, no back to the hotel. Despite this, he still tried 2 MORE shops! I was getting very annoyed and said that if he brought me to 1 more place other than the hotel I was getting off and not paying him (ok, I didn’t actually say that but I really thought it very strongly, I fantasized about it – his English wasn’t good enough, he wouldn’t have understood me anyway!), but I just started saying no very vehemently with wide gesturing and it finally worked! (gees!). So anyway, by that point I was annoyed, hungry and just plain tired or all Indians (classic case of generalizing) so I headed to Dominos pizza (hehehe) and enjoyed a “totally non-indian” food. It was good! Hehehe They had a special, for 10 R more you got a 2nd pizza so I took it, either for dinner or to give to beggars (many kids beg for food around here). I, not surprisingly, got hit for food very shortly by kids, so I gave a slice to a kid with a smaller kid in her arm. She asked for another for the “almost baby” and followed me for half a block for a 2nd slice!! Gees! She just wouldn’t be happy with one, she had to get 2, which at that point I decided I wouldn’t give her…just out of being annoyed again (she didn’t pick her day)…Anyway.
Later, I was walking on the street, trying to look around (important note: I can’t walk or sit anywhere for less than 2 mins before someone comes up to me, either just to say hello, or to chat, and around here, to sell me something. Hello is not a word I don’t like very much, just out of sheer abuse.) when a guy came up to me and started chatting me up. I had my “F off” face on, from being annoyed for a good portion of the day and he asked me why when he tried to speak to foreigners they sometimes didn’t want to talk. I told him that it’s because we get accosted 100 times a day, and around here, everyone wants to sell you something, 99%of the time. They all say that they don’t, but eventually they do. He explained a little that he just wanted to chat and invite me for tea, but when I told him no 4-5 times (to tea), he finally retreated… hehehe Honestly, I’m sure he ultimately had a motive, they always do when they accost you on the street (it’s different if it’s someone you sit beside in the bus or train, but if they come to you, there’s always a motive).
SO anyway, that the story for today. Tomorrow I hope Jodhpur reconciles me with Indai. I still love it, just a bit less unconditionally! hehehe

Posted by Mistrale 06:14 Archived in India Comments (1)

Agra

and the Taj!!

sunny 34 °C

Written on July 1st...
Let's start with the scoop on my memory card:
I think it F'd...It has a virus (Trogan "Generic"), which isn't cleanable according to AVG and McCafee...I'm sure (I hope) something can be done, but it'll require some serious downloading and rebootig in safe mode and stuff, which exceeds my comfort zone on PC, on top of being a hassle in a "not so fast Internet" country...I think I'll simply buy a new memory card and send this one to Levis (hehehe!) for him to work his magic...
Stupid me however, I used it today when visiting the Taj Mahal...I can see those pics on the camera at least, so I hope to at least be able to retrieve those on a PC!...Ahhhh, the joys of technology....

On a brighter note, I visited the Taj Mahal today, which was ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY gorgeous!!!! Whoever said that you saw the same thing as you see on the pics lied or mossed out on a great experience!!! It's much better in real life than on any picture!!! I took the services of a guide as I remembered the feeling of "I'm missing something here" in Angkor Wat, and it made the world of difference! (even more worth it at 150R negotiated down -almost without me trying- from 275R). He explained the history and pointed out details (endless details which I would have never noticed but made the experience that much more enjoyable) and knew all the great "pic spots" (which I'm not currently able to retrieve on a PC! 8:::(
Many many pieces are carved out of solid marble, there are endless flowers all made of semi-previous rocks from all over the world. there is symetry in everything (i.e. the number 22 comes back often, 22000 people to built it, 22 years to be built, 22 is a very important number with the Muslim religion -of which the builder of the Taj was a devout practitioner- (I think the age Allah or Mohammed died). There are 22 little domes at the top if the main gate, which are aligned perfectly, 22 steps up to the main floor (steps carved from a solid block of marble), etc etc etc. The distance betwen the towers (can't remember the correct name") is 312 feet, which is the number of soldiers Mohammed had in the first battle for religion (or something like that). Everything is perfectly lined up, arches within arches, domes within domes, the water features and main entrance are perfectly lined up with the tomb of the wife for who the Mogul built this temple (his 3rd wife, who gave him 14 children -6 survived-, as his two previous wives hadn't given him any kids). There were many architects, from as far as Rome, but mostly muslims from Turkey. Litterally, it seems that every single stone has a purpose and a reason! It was a totally amazing experience!! There are also many optic illusions, for i.e: from the main gate, as you look through the arat it from a certain point (in the center - obviously!) , you can see a little of the Taj, as you walk forward, it seems to move back and back until you make it to the archway where you can see it all in it's glory! How cool!
This was clearly a highlight of my trip so far and I agree that it should remain part of the 7 wonders of the world!

I would have really liked to share some pics with you, but I will as soon as I get them, even if it's upon my return home.

On a different topic, the trip TO Agra was quite interesting in itself! Hehehe, I don't know what it is with me, but I seem to attrack all the "lone Westeners" who haven't talked to another westener in ages.
SO I met this 40yrs old Russian Hare Krishna devotee at the bus stand (hehehe). I didn't know he was Hare until we boarded the bus (it was an overnight, 8pm to 8am) and the bus driver chanted "Hare Hare Krishna Krishna"!! I was like ??? The bus left almost an hour late (as usual), so we chatted for a while and he ended up (to my great dismay and not so happiness!) switching seats (he had a GREAT seat, right at the front, which means that no one leans over you with their seats, so much more space) to sit beside me! I was so tired from walking around Rishikesh all day and not sleeping too well for the past 2 nights, yet he talked my ear off for most of the trip. It was mostly a 1-way conversation, as for one he would really let me talk much (and I didn't really want to anyway), so I ended-up just "mono-sylabbing" with my eyes closed. On two occasions, I had to pretend to be sound asleep (which I wasn't far off anyway) for him to shut him up!!! He has been in India for 4 years, after being arrested for trafficking of some drugs (offence which he was innocent of course!!) and spending 3.5 months in jail (which he said was more like kindergarden than anything else -but then again, he's Russian - different standards! hehehe). It actually seems like he was innocent, but what do I care really. So anyway, we arrived to a town called Mathura (birth place of Krishna) where this guy lives in an Ashram. The bus stopped there and it turned out that I didn't have a way to Agra (60km away from Mathura - so approx 2-3hours on regular bus) (I bought a ticket to Agra but ended up in Mathura! great! first time I officially got screwed - that way- in India), so he offered to drive me with his car(!!!!) I was like hmmm no, thanks, but he was really insistent. He said he would at least give me a ride to the bus stand (in the riskshaw) so I agreed to that. We ended-up stopping at a Krishna temple. I was made a little more comfortable with the fact that he was very well known by his fellow - I'll call them weirdos! hehehe- so I agreed to let him drive me to Agra (in his car). The ride was uneventful, except for the -once again- wonderful wonderful display of Indian inguinity! GE must have got their "Imagination at work" slogfan from India! MUST!!
SO it turns out that all the cars here don't run on regular gas (well they do, out of the manufacturer), but rather on propane (like for a BBQ!!) Indians rig their cars to run on "cheap" propane and well as "expensive" petrol. They essentially have hybrid card, home-made, with a switch to switch from one fuel to the other!!!!! hehehe, I had no idea that was even feasible!!!!
On the topic of imagination at work, I forgot to mention a funny incident which happened in Spiti. On our last day, we came to a second road block, where a truck had lost it's rear axel and was blocking the road. We got there approx 1.5 hours after it happened and a crane was hard at work digging through the dirt (luckily the "accident" happened where the road was between approx 4 feet high of dirt - up mountain- (at least not hard rock as it was so often) and the usual steep cliff down. People (westeners) who were there since early on said that they initially thought that the crane was there to tow the truck, but no, it instead went about enlarging the road beside the truck! hehehe it you can't move the truck, more the road!!! hehehe Imagination at work!
Cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 09:06 Archived in India Comments (0)

Haridwar and Rishikesh

Glad to have come, glad to leave!

sunny 34 °C

Written on June 30...

I only have 10 mins of Internet so I'll make this quick:
Well, I just went to Rishikesh today, trip postponed by 1 day since I got massive food poisoning 2 nights ago and slept all day yesterday. I knew I shouldn't have bought those peanuts from the street vendor... or eaten those 4 mangos (they were small) before going to bed!! hehehe, I'm ok now.
I'm leaving for Agra (Taj Mahal) on an overnight bus in aprox 1 hour, and just came back from a day trip in Rishikesh, the "World capital of Yoga". It was ok, but I'm glad I chose to stay in Haridwar instead of Rishikesh, which is too... tourist oriented, with it's lots of beggars, white people and western food. The town itself is broken into 3 sectors, which I visited, and nothing very special to report. Lots of flies flying around(less than Haridwar, but that's sooo easy to beat).
Overall looking forward to the end of this trip. A bit (a lot) tired of living in my back pack. I just enquired with British Airways if I could possibly change my itineary to only stay in London a few days 9save some massive $$ by skipping Europe-I can always go back), then off to Van for aprox 1 month, then to Mtl on Aug 21, just in time for the "welcome meeting" at U of Montreal - where I'll be doing a certificate in law (transferable to the 3 yrs Bachelor) (yay!)
SO anyway we'll see.
Running out of time,
More from Agra!
P.S. Just got my first "getting grabbed in the bus" today, from the guy who gives the tickets of all people!! He started by tapping on my knee, which I allowed for about 5 sec, then I pushed his hand off and said no. It was at the end of the ride, so I got up to leave, then he patted the back of my leg! I was like NO! The he put his lips to get a kiss!!!??!?! I was like ! NO WAY! back off! hehehe

Posted by Mistrale 05:02 Archived in India Comments (0)

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