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I love it! Really!

To my great surprise, after all the negative hype I had been getting for soo long!

sunny 40 °C

Written on June 7...

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! Ok, I've only been around a couple of blocks in my neighborhood, which is known as a shady part of town, but I'm totally in love! The people are soooo nice and friendly. I was somewhat expecting to have to be on my guards all the time (I still kinda am of course), but it's actually a lot easier than I was anticipating. I can't wait to see other parts of the country, as if this is shit (EVERYONE told me to get out of Delhi asap because it sucked ass - I honestly don't know what they were talking about), the rest must be out of this world great!! There are nowhere near as many beggars as I expected, and they are nowhere near as pro-active as in Cambodia, so it's great. People say hello and chat me up all the time. The only annoying ones are the travel agents! Man, these guys will talk you into buying a trip with them if you give them enough time! It actually almost worked, as the guy lured me in his office by asking me to read a letter he had got in french (clever little bastard!) and obviously that was the beginning of discussions about my itineary and stuff. His "brother" (I doubt the actual blood link but whatever) arrived, also working at the agency and talked me into a 3day homestay in a town up north that's apparently great bla bla bla. I was into the idea, but not at the same time, but it sounded good... and they had so many "testimonials" (travel agents often ask you to write a little something after a trip you enjoyed so they can show it to other travellers). We had agreed on price and everything, and and he was writing the receipt (I hadn't paid yet) when his phone rang, he answered it and started chatting for a while, so I opened my LP and remembered that this town (can't remember the name) was in the Kashmir area, for which there's a strong travel advisory against (I checked the Canadian web site just before coming to India). LP even said that travel agents would tell you it's all good and safe, and to check the situation before going. When he hung up, I told him I should check on the travel website before booking! He got furious!!! He said " you think I'd send you to a place that's not safe!!" and slammed his order book, the picture books and testimonial book and put everything away angrily. I said I didn't mean to offend him, but he just told me to leave and never refer anyone to him!!! I said fine and took off!! It really shook me though, as it was totally unexpected and so sudden and emotional! Pinaki (the guy I met on the plane) had told me that Indians were a bit too emotional for their own good, I guess he was right!!! Oh well, now at least I'm not going to a place where many tourists disappeared and/or got killed and where there there's a mini war with Pakistan!!!
It still took me a little while to get over such an emotional outburst! My first since I quit working! hehehe I guess I'm losing my edge! ;-)

Anyway, aside from that incident, I'm just walking around with a perma smile on my face, as I love it here and I think that Cat Stevens was wrong when he sang "you can't get by just upon a smile". It worked great in Asia and seems very efficient here as well! hehehe
Later in the day, as I was scrolling (actually partial limping is more accurate - the pain has shifted from the balls/all of my feet to my ankles, but at least the swelling is gone), when another guy approached me asking the same questions as everyone else (in the same precise order as everyone else): where are you from? ahh Montreal? ahh french?? aaah How long have you been in India?? ahhh Where are you going next?? ahhh and then he proceeded to try to talk me into going to his office (yay, another travel agent!!) for a trip to the same freaking region! Are they trying to ship us all up there or something! hehehe I believe them when they say that it's gorgeous and I'm missing an opportunity (after all, it's in the Himalayas), but my mind is set now and there's no way I'm going there. There are other "safer" (nowhere in India, or in the world as a matter of fact, is really safe, but still) towns to go to in one wants to experience the Himalayas (and I certainly want to!). So anyway, despite many no's and walking away, he tried and tried over and over again, before finally giving up. Travel agents: Tenacious little bastards!! hehehe
About a minute after this guy left me alone, another one approached me, to ask if I was a model and wanted to see if I was interested in become one! I burst out laughing at the sheer absurdity of the proposal and said there was no way, not going to happen! hehehe, Do I look that guillible!! hehehe Anyway, good times! It's a bit draining, but so fun at the same time! However, I must mention that other people have chatted me up with no other apparent motive than just wanting to be nice, so you never know!
I now have the tel number/business cards of Pinaki (guy from the plane), a doctor who studied in the US who I can call if I get stomach problems (hehehe) and a guy's father who drives a car for a tour or whatever! hehehe Other than Pinaki, I have no intention of contacting any of them, but it's funny! hehehe! I'll need a rolodex before the end of the trip! hehehe

On a unrelated note, I fulfilled my duty to eat at McDonalds (this is where I met the doctor) and had a kind of open top square pie (crust made of bread) with a filling of chicken curry something something! I decided a long time ago that I would not eat meat in India (sanitation is way too off for that), but I figured that McDo meat is not real meat, so I made an exception there. It actually turned out to be real chicked breast meat, to my great surprise, but it's McDo, so it's almost antisceptic anyways, so I think I'm good. hehehe It was actually quite good, and barely had the McDo taste. On a surprising note, the fries did NOT taste like everywhere else (I'm thinking of writing a complaint to HO! hehehe), they had a bit of another taste...I can't quite put my finger on it...weird and not as good.
On that note: I bought a few gorgeous mangoes (to peel myself) and had one, but it didn't taste like the mango I know and love. It almost had a spicy taste! very weird! I took the two remaining ones and gave them to begging kids and they would certainly enjoy it a lot more than me!

On another unrelated note: I haven't met many fellow travellers yet, with the exception of 2 guys (on separate days, guys not related), a South African and a Nigerian, staying in the same hotel as me, who both wanted to take me out/come to my room with me. The first one, on the first night, actually called me in my room (the room has a tel!!! I hadn't had that since I left Canada! You should have seen me jump when it rang! hehehe). I was like: hein?? hmmm no! Another bunch of tenacious guys!!! They are both here on business, spare parts for automobiles (smells fishy to me!). The second guy at least asked me if he could call me, so I was able to say no in person! Anyway, I don't know if it's only me being racist (I wouldn't want to, but I might be a little...you tell me), but when I see them all I can think of is the rate of Aids in the Southern African countries... major turn off... so I've kindly told them that I was tired tonight, maybe tomorrow (we all know that means no!!! - but not them I think...) Anyway, is that racist or is it a bit justified??

On a final unrelated note: It's so amusing to see cows just hanging about around on the street and stuff. I was wondering what they ate (I haven't seen a patch of grass yet!), until a guy caused a major traffick jam by stopping to give a cow some bread! hehehe Everyone around here honks for everything (like in Cambodia, Thailand is so quiet in comparison!!). The traffick jam immediately became a horn symphony (or cacauphony) hehehe!
That and I almost (oh so close!) stepped in a major cow dump (I had my head up looking at everything but where I was going and saw it at the very very last fraction of a second! hehehe, note to self: keep your eyes on the road!!! hehehe

Ok, real final note: The power keeps cutting in and out here, it's so funny! There's a generator to keep the "important stuff" (aka TVs, computers and some emergency lights), but the rest shuts off for 4-5 secs, then starts again, then stops and so on most of the time! hehehe

Ok, not kidding, actual last note: I was told by, pretty much everyone, to bargain any price by cutting it in half and take it from there. Well, the merchants on the bazaar street are not willing to negotiate much at all! I'm so surprised! I walked away from a couple of places who were not willing to go below, i.e 125 when they started at 150... I expected easier dealings here, but they are actually quite dead set on not going below a certain (seemingly high in my opinion) price...weird!
Well, that's that for that! I booked a tour of "the important sites of Delhi" tomorrow and have my train ticket to Shimla for the following day.
I swear this is the final note: Before coming here, I hadn't realized that it's high domestic tourist season in India, as the kids are off school and the parents take them places and travel and stuff. With a population of 1 Billion people, it shows! As a result, I'll have to start planning my trip a little better and far in advance (it'll certainly be good practice for Europe) as, for example, the train was full for tomorrow. Unfortunately, this also means that hotels are charging the big bucks... I hate high season, low season is really the only way to travel!
P.S. I love this heat, it's sooo...hot! hehehe

Posted by Mistrale 07:29 Archived in India

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