Friday, January 19, 2007

Because this part of the trip really needed to be longer.

Naturally, after I decided to spend the night at the airport to prevent a 3am rickshaw ride through the city, my flight was delayed until noon.  That's over five hours, meaning I missed my connection to Dulles by about twenty minutes.  They couldn't get me on a flight until tomorrow morning, so I have hotel, dinner, and breakfast vouchers, and need to go outside and find my shuttle soon. 
I did meet a nice girl who sat next to me on the plane.  I'm not usually into plane conversations, cause they're often awkward and uncomfortable, and I'd rather read, but this one ended in us exchanging information and making tentative plans to travel to Iceland together this summer. 
I'm starting to feel a tad sick.  Not flu sick or malaria sick, but more like "I've been eating out for every meal for thirty days and haven't showered in three days and really, really just need a bath and a can of Progresso Lentil Soup and some crackers" kind of sick.  Oh well.  Twenty more hours and I'm home free.  I hope. 

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Long Walk Home

My trip to India is unofficially over. I'm in Bangalore again, having just got in from Delhi this morning, and am now trying to fill about 20 hours before I have to head back to the airport. I decided not to waste another Rs. 1000 on a hotel room for only a few hours tonight, so I'm just going to crash on some comfy airport chairs somewhere til my 6am flight. Good times. Unfortunatly, I can't afford to do anything today, or even look at things that cost money (though I put a few rupees aside to internet part of the day away, since that's cheap living over here), so I just took a cheap taxi to a block I'm familiar with to blog and read at the coffee shops for a little while, before the break in my three day trek back home is over.

I sent the postcards from Delhi yesterday, and although they only cost me a meager $2 to purchase and mail all of them, I hope you all appreciate that it nearly cost my life licking all those stamps in the post office for you guys, ick.

Since I don't have anything new to report, I bring you what is bound to be one of many retrospectives on my trip here.

Things I Learned in India, Part I:

1. The towers of the Taj Mahal lean 3 degrees outwards, so that if they're damaged in an earthquake they'll fall outwards onto the gardens, instead of on the building.

2. Trying to use the 500 rupee bills that come out of the ATMs here is like trying to use a $20 bill at the 7-11 on 12th and U: it ain't happening. However, yelling, "Well, I don't know how you expect me to tip you," always results in someone "suddenly discovering" change.

3. It seems that I don't grow hair on my calves. Strange.

4. Either using shampoo to get small stains out of my pants was a poor idea because it left bleached spots...or my pants are REALLY dirty.

5. Angry camels are terrifying.

6. Always take advantage of Blogger's "save as draft" feature, because you will inevitably be just about to move your mouse pointer over "publish" when the power goes out on the entire block. To wit: I'm rewriting this entire post from last night.

7. There's not enough lotion in the world to make up for India's hard water.

8. It's great to experiment with new foods. But if you're asked to drink something that someone claims is their "favorite drink ever" and it tastes like whole buttermilk, putrid fish water, and something that died in an alley, you don't have to keep "trying" until someone puts her glass down and says, "Wait, don't drink that, it's gone bad."

9. Oh, and speaking of things to see on the way to Jaipur, there's also a giant Frozen Sperm Bank on that road. In the middle of the desert. In a village where I couldn't find an ATM. I swear it must be using half the energy in Rajasthan to keep those little guys alive.

10. Eating three huge meals a day in India will eventually lead you to pack on a few pounds. But they'll be DELICIOUS POUNDS.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Freezing in Rajastan

Things to see on your way from Agra to Jaipur:

* Fields and fields of beautiful yellow flowers. I thought they looked familiar, and as I've discovered during my time here, India has incredibly similar vegetation as southern California. Turns out they were mustard plants, which we used to tear apart and eat as kids romping around the park.

* Eagles. We started passing a bunch of hotels named things like "Birder's Place" and "The Nest," and it turns out we were driving past a sanctuary for freaking eagles (not bald eagles). There they were, just sitting near the road, eyeing their surroundings boldly, as they do. I saw one flying outside my window, about 100 feet away, no doubt looking for prey or possibly an al Qaeda member.

* Kites. So many they blot out the sun. Which reminds me: Happy Republic Day! It's actually not until the 26th, but that doesn't mean the kids won't celebrate as much as they can. They spend the entire month flying kites out in the streets, from every rooftop, everywhere. It's really quite a sight. Of course as soon as I hit town I go out with my camera, determined to capture this, and a father teaching his young son how to fly a bright yellow kite catches me taking his photo. He says, "Come here!" And he shows me how to fly the kite! These aren't our high technology, aerodynamic USA (made in Taiwan) kites you pick up at the Bay, they're essentially a piece of paper taped to a couple of sticks, and it requires some careful prodding to get that thing up in the sky. Nevertheless, we managed to get it flying, and you know what...that was totally one of the best moments I've had here.

* Americans! I went to this place for dinner last night, which in my itinerary is called "a real village where you'll sit on the floor and enjoy traditional dance and performances." What they meant was a Disneyland-esque World of the Indian Village type compound with rickety ferris wheels and dancers who begged for money after every performance. Which is not to say it wasn't kind of fun. I managed to converge simultaneously with two Americans traveling alone, as we tried to buy tickets for the camel ride. I have only met two other people from the motherland on this trip, which has surprised me a great deal. And to meet two of them, both traveling alone? Crazy. So Sue the banker living in Calcutta to oversee the outsourcing office went on her own camel, while I got behind Eric the PhD candidate in computer science here for a conference, and probably left marks on his sides where I pinched him when the camel lurched up from its sitting position. Hoo-boy. Riding horses kind of freaks me out, so imagine me on a huge-ass camel. And for 5 rupees! (About a dime.) Another adventure, check. Oh, and ironically enough, the one meal I've had that was specifically designed for tourists is the only one in thirty days (90 meals!) that's made me sick. Ugh.

* Bollywood! Yay! I just got back from the theater. I didn't end up seeing Dhoom-2 the other day because I was warned theaters can get kinda rowdy, and it's best not to go alone, but the theater here in Jaipur is actually in my guidebook, known as a beautiful building and is more, I guess, adult (not xxx, you dirty minds). Much like the Uptown, they have one theater and show the same movie for months on end, so I saw Viveh. So good! While we were waiting to get into the theater, a girl about 13 came up to me:

"You understand Hindi?"
"Uh, no."
"Then how will you understand the movie?"
"It's a love story isn't it? I think I'll figure it out."
"Ah yeah, you'll get it."

Heh. And I did, though I certainly missed a few jokes, apparently the little kid was a barrel of laughs. You know what I didn't miss? The insanely hot male lead. He was like a sexier and slightly tanner Tom Welling - and the scene just after I thought that had him in a Superman t-shirt, so it wasn't just me. And who cares about whatever was coming out of his mouth, I just stared at those intensely kissable lips. Not that there was any kissing in this chaste movie (it's actually called Viveh: A Journey from Engagement to Marriage). The best we get is the back of his (adorable) head as the screen fades to black and the entire audience loudly sighs, "Awwwww!" as the lights go on. It was really entertaining, though not as sing-and-dancy as I'd hoped. My favorite part had to be during this super romantic scene, where although they've just met earlier that day for their arranged marriage, they've fallen in love at first sight (naturally) and it's the first moment they're alone together. They're both adorably shy but the music crescendos and the camera revolves around them and just when you think they're going to kiss...he pulls out his Nokia cell phone, snaps a picture of her, and runs out of the room. The rest of the audience didn't seem to find this as hysterical as I did.

P.S. The postcards are all gone, thanks for sending me your addresses!

Monday, January 15, 2007

I have seen the Taj Mahal.

And it's just as amazing as I'd imagined.

I've been in the north for about four days now, but after a month I'm starting to get tired and slightly overwhelmed, and internet stations are seem to be harder to find in the north, so this won't be a long post, even though I have heaps and heaps to share. I'll have to save it for a day when I haven't been out for 15 hours and my computer isn't slow as all hell.

I bought a packet of postcards at the Taj and have 3 left, so if you want a cheap-ass photograph that doesn't do the Taj any justice at all showing up in your mailbox in six weeks, email your address stat.

Omg, I leave in three days!!

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