Friday, November 16, 2007

This camel very FASHT! was repeated to me several times by my guide Raju. "You OK. No problem? Only problem Pakistan." Intrigued by this statement, I probe to get hear more of his viewpoint on Indian-Pakistani relations or the current Musharraf situation. To which he responds, "This camel very FASHT." Maybe he has something there.

The camel fair comes to Pushkar this weekend, but I leave today back to Jaipur. Luckily, a lot of the camels come early, so I was able to ride a camel through the market up to the fair. Slowly seeing a few camels on the street and then more as we left the market and then even more until the entire landscape was a sleeping, eating, spitting mass of animals is something I will never ever get over. People outnumbered by humps. As a note, steering a camel is a lot easier than maneuvering, oh, I don't know, say a paddleboat in Amsterdam. A lot less screaming and less laborious.

I am here for such a short time, but India certainly has kicked me in the keister. The NY mask works well to keep touts and people from bothering you for too long, but it is impossible to be indifferent here. For better or worse, you feel very alive, running the gamut of emotions. 
  • Fear - what sort of medical attention would I receive if I was trampled by this elephant? Do you think that monkey has rabies?
  • Elation - stepping barefoot onto the steps of a building that is so beautiful, I force Chris and Meghan to take pictures of me with it from every possible angle. The Indians also really know how to build a fort, in the same way Europeans really know how to wear a scarf.
  • Frustration - women trying to grab your hands as if to shake it hello but inevitably trying to sneak henna on it so you will have to give her money
  • Anger/being heartbroken - the same woman asked me through an English-speaking friend how much the bill a man gave her for dancing was worth. After seeing the green bill with the numbers $100,000 in the corners and the statute of liberty where a president would normally be, I had to tell her the bill wasn't real. The disappointment in her face nearly broke me. And I wanted to find the man that gave it to her and beat him down.
  • Sympathy - it is annoying to be bothered constantly, but I walk around and am seen as a dollar sign or one of those coin games at the fair where the money is juuuust about to be pushed over the side to score a lucky someone a small windfall. I figure if I saw that potential, wouldn't I also stand there pestering, waiting to grab whatever was inevitably going to fall out?
  • Confusion - I can't be totally sure as I could only understand about 67% of what he said, but I think the driver to Jaipur, in addition to telling inappropriate jokes involving a mouse and an elephant and mocking Japanese tourists, was inquiring as to the sexual habits and menstruation cycles of western women. This guy obviously did not realize that I am about as open as a the Brahman temple to non-Hindus (not very). I prefer to tell my family I will be visiting a foreign country only when I am surrounded by that language and stepping over the indigenous animals' poo. Apparently, he had the same misunderstanding my mom had of what exactly "having been around the block" means.
  • Relief - dealing with men all day, hearing only Hindi, having to lie about my name, country, marital status as if I was Sidney Bristow on Alias, I struggle with the sad fact that coming back to the hotel and catching the Lizzie McGuire movie on TV is the only thing that will make me whole again.
  • Guarded - shirking off the "Namaste, what country you from?" as sadly, as much as I would like to talk to this person and get to know what their life is like, money will always be the elephant in the room (well maybe something less common in India, like a kangaroo or something)
  • Familiarity - finding wonderful travelers from Holland and Portugal with whom I can debrief and invite to visit me in New York in exchange for their salvation. Running into my friend Patchu from the safari and having him walk me around the fair today.  
All this as well as excitement, indigestion, loneliness, the risk of getting too deep, I am going to head out to see the last of the camels before the power shuts down again in here.
Oh, and although Ayo Technology (in addition to Om Shanti Om) will always be my Indian anthem, I am still pure Kanye.




It's difficult to take pictures of my friends walking home from school while riding a camel.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cheese Doodle Hair Coloring

This is a phenomenon I will miss when I leave India. Men and women use henna to color their hair. As my mom, Marge, would say, "It's all the rage".
Met Tree's friends Meghan and Chris Sunday in Delhi for Chris's birthday where he was treated to the runaround from our friend John from Kashmir. Set up a trip to Agra for Monday and were floored by the Taj Mahal and views of it from the Agra fort. Nothing more I can say to capture. Overwhelming. As an added bonus we also were subject to some handsy line cutting and requests to be in pictures with random Indian men. Looks like I could show up on the internet a second time. 
Some other firsts include my first camel (the first of many), my first elephant (ditto) and my first sighting of a family of 5 on a motorcycle. The record up until that point had been 4 on one.
Today in Jaipur visited the Amber fort and the Palace in the Pink City as well as some shopping. I am headed to Pushkar tomorrow, I think. The camel fair doesn't take place there until next week, but  am hoping to view some good camel spitting.  
Beautiful, Smoggy Delhi



Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Was Run Over By a Car Today

Arrived in Delhi today. Sad to leave my friend, Mo, after touring around Bangalore. "I guess I just miss my friend."

Some highlights in Bangalore include:
- Getting to test out my water clarifying solutions - so far so good
- Buying every season of "Scrubs" for less than $20 (anyone know off-hand which one is the Bel Biv Devoe Poison episode?)
- Carrying a box loaded with sweets from Mo's mom in my backpack
- My only pen exploding yesterday and boarding Kingfisher airlines today where I was handed....get this...a free pen
- Yelling at ricksaw drivers
- Mo racing his car through the streets of Bangalore faster than Freddie from NYL cancels out of an AWF work object
- Seeing a tree that can live without a trunk
- Having a friend-crush on Mo's cousin (whose interests include drinking, hiking and helping run a coffee plantation), but losing my cred after making some culturally insensitive remarks while hopped up on jaeger (now I know how Mike must feel)
- Living the high life going to exclusive, invite-only parties. There was a website of pictorial evidence, but it has since been shut down. Here is one shot:


For most, travelling through India is a spiritual experience. Some things I have discovered thus far:
- Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is not as funny when dubbed in Hindi (or maybe it was Kanada. Either way, not one chuckle).
- I am slightly afraid of monkeys when not caged.
- Somewhere along the way I acquired a fascination with cows.
- Is it possible that I could like 50 Cent more than Kanye? Not sure on this one yet. I will have to explore more on my journey.
- Boys holding hands should occur more frequently in platonic situations.
- If you walk around looking pissed off and sweaty, people tend not to bother you.
- Fireworks and explosive devices should be placed back in the hands of the children.
- Tums are good.
Oh right. The car. A few minutes before coming to use the internet, I found my foot pancaked under the wheel of a car. I do not believe this was my fault, but I was concentrating on looking pissed off, so who knows.

Tree's friends come tomorrow, so I am going to hit the lamb burger at Mickey D's and call it a day.

Just a quick beer slurp in traffic

Bangalore Club memories

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


So I had just about finished a long message about India, and the power blipped off across the area. It came right back on, but it was long enough to lose everything I wrote. Good thing I have my headlamp handy in case it lasts longer next time. It may be worse since everyone is stringing lights for Diwali (the festival of lights) today and tomorrow.

 So anyway - got on the plane at JFK Monday with sore knees after the marathon to find I had been bumped to business class. Enjoyed my little bed on the way over to Heathrow, as well as Trish's cupcakes and Meghan's brownies.

On the flight over to Bangalore I perused the GQ and Esquire magazines Mohan made me buy him and realized I couldn't love Ryan Gosling more. Soon after, I was pondering his break up with Rachel McAdams, I started to realize it was not getting lighter out and I had misread the itinerary of when I would be landing. I had told Mohan to pick me up in Bangalore at 4:45PM. That military time can really be pesky. So got my backpack (or Lorene's really) at the airport and had my pre-paid taxi driver, Michael, drop me at the Bangalore Club where Mo reserved a room for me. As we jerked through the loud, crazy, auto-rickshaw crowded streets, and I saw my first cows in the road, I fell in love.

Fancy petal pool at the Leela
After watching some Office and Bollywood videos on TV, Mo and his cousins picked me up and drove me around. I stuffed myself with dhosa and kati rolls and some other yummy things, and we took in the high end life of Bangalore - walking around the Leela which is supposedly the #1 business hotel in the world and taking in some afternoon drinks on the veranda of the Karnataka Golf Club of which Mohan is a member. He is definitely not roughing it here.

I am excited to break away, though, and get into the mix when I get to Delhi and Agra this weekend.