12.07.2007 - 12.30.2007 82 °F
I kinda like India! Really! Its true! The reason I say "I never thought I would say this" is because, literally, every single person we have met on this trip that has been to India or knows someone that has been here has said nothing other than horror stories, more concerning stomach issues, but still. For example, there is Delhi Belly (umm.... things coming out both ends at the same time), hating it while they were there, loving it afterwards, "my sister lost 20 pounds," "my friend was robbed on the train," people annoyingly taking a picture of you and then claiming to be their wife or girlfriend later, people touching your breasts, blah blah. It goes on and on. So to say that we weren't exactly jumping for joy to come here would be fair.
Well, inspite of all that.... its actually been really enjoyable! Granted, some travelers may say we have been pampered a little and thats probably why we like it. And well... its true. We've been pampered a little. In Delhi we met up with a friend of college who showed us around and hooked us up (Thanks Sachin!), then we were away in a meditation camp for 10 days so we were away from everything. When we got out a friend we met (on the last day, because that was the day we could talk) took us out around Pune and treated us to X-mas dinner, which was nice (thanks Priya and your dad!), and then off we were to Mombay to stay with my friends parents and hang out with some of his friends (Thanks Raj!). His parents are actually almost too nice and giving, but very much appreciated being taken care of after 4 months on the road!
We also hooked up with Raj's friends, Yogesh and Priya, in Mombay who were both super nice. Here is a pict of the group:
They, as it seems everyone in Mombay, were mostly part of the film industry. Not just Bollywood (which, by the way, I looooooooove! Om Shanti Om - I just saw it and I love it! The soundtrack is amazing!). Char and I were trying not to look too clueless we are in healthcare and know nothing about film, but it was kinda fun to be around these people and learn about the industry (they were more about the business aspect of it). It was too bad we weren't there during a time of a primere because we could have gone to that. Next time!!!
Soo... yes, we have been a little pampered, but have still gone out on our own, survived trains and buses, and seen the 'real' India. India is the most polluted country in the world. It also has one of highest level of poverty, which we were also warned about the aggressive beggers. I have to say when people said it "smells," I thought, "sure sure, it can't be that bad." Lucky for us someone recommended to buy Vicks and put it under our noses. The smells can almost be unbearable at times. In between public urinals out in the open, cow maneur everywhere, and just garbage everywhere (really, I've never seen a place so dirty), its gross. We got the jist of it because when we were in Delhi we happened to stay in Old Delhi, near the train station (Main Bazaar), aka. the slums of Delhi. Seriously, even a driver hardly would drop us off there because it was so sketchy. The "street" was pretty much us walking on garbage. Luckily, we survived to live the tale. BUT, if you put all that aside, its a vibrant, colorful, and ever-changing city. Its fun! We learned to dodge rickshaws while crossing the street as well as the 02394832234932 people that are always around. Really, in India people are just everywhere. And here I thought China was bad - ha!
We are in Mombay now, and we've seen yet another World Heritage Site of Elephanta Island, a place with many rock-cut temples and was constructed around 450AD to 750AD. The caves has sculpted images all related to Shiva and many images and stories to tell the story of the god.
Then on the way back by ferry we got a great view of the famous India gate, an icon in Mombay, that was built to commermate India's independence from the British. Next to it is the Taj Hotel Palace, one of the most expensive and beautiful hotels and historic in India. We treated the Pai's to a nice lunch there, which was yummy!
We also went to Colaba, which is one of the most happening areas in Mombay for its street shopping, and for its action. We did some quality shopping there and even came back a 2nd time for more. Ahhhh... just can't get enough of the hustle and bustle!!
The caste division in India is also interesting. Yes, there are a lot of poor or low class people and majority are on the street begging, but there still seems to be some kind of opportunity to work, i.e. drivers, and servants for everything (a person who opens a gate, a person who watches the gate, a person who helps with luggage, etc). At first I thought it was unnecessary (America is all about the consolidating to save money), but then realized that whatever it may be, its providing a job for someone. On the other hand, for the well-off... well, if your family has money, you're pretty much taken care of. You would have a driver, no doubt. Which I admit, isn't that bad (we had a few drivers). The separation of the classes is pretty grave, and I can see it more in Mombay than any other place. Mombay is known for being a business capital and film capital of India, so you can be in areas of the city where you might as well be in a nice place in the States, but then also turn the corner to a slum area. Its a really great and fun city though!
The traffic in India is absolutely horrible and talk about NO RULES on the road! Its crazy!!! Random thought.... we met someone in China who had studied in the States and when we asked him what he thought of the states he said "Booooor-ing." I was TOTALLY taken-aback. Boring? What? That would never even cross my mind. Then I was offended, then taken aback again. I let it go, but now after traveling throughout Asia and now India, yes, the States is boring. When I say boring, I mean by all the rules and regulations, structure, routine, etc. Everything has its place and soo many people (myself included) like it. There is nothing wrong with that. But then when you are in a place that doesn't hardly have any of that, it can be overwhelming and chaotic, but also fun (if you can accept it). Everyday is a new adventure and there are always things happening. I kinda like it!!! I'm going to e-mail that person and tell him to go to India.
All and all, its nice that people speak english and we have had pretty good interactions with the people, they always seem willing to help. Hopefully it will stay that way!
So another night we met up with my friends friend Priya, who owns this beautiful art gallery. This is a sunset picture from her gallery:
I would have taken a picture of the artwork, but I think its illegal? Anyway, She had to make a 5-minute stop at another friends opening and she took us with. We literally were there for 5 minutes, I barely finished my wine and left. Then today, we are in the newspaper! She is in this picture and the article mentioned that she brought along 2 Chicago friends and that we were impressed with the exuberance of the art. Sure, why not? It was kinda cool! So during the brief time we were in Mombay, we are famous! Or.... think like Mr. Pai, who said "why didn't they put your names? It could be any 2 Chicago people?" Well, we know who it is!!!
Oh, by the way, if you thought the beaches in Chicago were bad, check out the seaside here:
See all that garbage? TOTALLY smelly and dirty. When we went for our morning power walk with Mr. Pai, he's like "walk by the seaside!" We just couldn't handle it and instead walked on the street. Ha ha!
Next stop, Goa for New Years! Woo hoo!!!