Monday, February 22, 2010
Back In Town
India is the most spectacular place in the whole wide world, well from what I have seen so far, and to sum it up in one blog entry would be impossible....impossible you say, we'll see about that.
No Meryl it's actually impossible, there's a lot to say, and only so much text space.
Did you never see Thumbelina Meryl? Did you never hear the impossible song? Nothing is impossible.
Yes I did, but I've never been massively keen on taking advice from a bird.
You've got a point there Meryl,
Thankyou I know.
Ok so the jet lag may be winning at this point, but I do think I'll have to blog a couple times to get everything I want to say out there. Luckily I did some manual blogging - as in pen and paper old school blogging, and I will put some excerpts from them for you to read.
To start us off I will tell you all about the south. Sit down kids, get some warm milk on the boil and settle in.
The first place in india me and Jen visited was mumbai and here is what I wrote.
After a seventeen hour connect plane journey all we wanted to do was get out of the airport. It's funny, the minute we stepped out, the airport felt like a warm bed inviting us back to safety. Adventure, can only be that if you are doing something completely different, and even though we were slightly overwhelmed and extra sleep deprived I knew we were stepping into something extra-ordinary.
It was about six o'clock in the morning and the air was warm and the place was busy. We bustled our way though the crowd and walked the wrong way out of the airport but managed to find our way to our prepaid taxi. Driving in India is something that needs to be experienced rather than described and the one hour cab ride to Colaba (10 dollars) was more terrifying but far funnier than the turbulence we'd experienced hours before.
There are between two and four lanes on the roads in India, but between four and eight cars trying to ride them. I think the main aim of driving here is not to stop at all, and as we ducked and swirved around bikes, people and cars I found myself flinching at how many times we nearly crashed. Oh and seatbelts seem yet to have made it in india.
We got to Hotel Moti which is beautiful and rustic and basic, and were told our room would be ready in a hour. Keen to explore but still a little overwhelmed by the city we walked over to a small cafe called Olympia and had black tea, omlettes and bread (2 Dollars)
We met with Raj, the owner of the hotel and he showed us to our room. Raj turned out to be awesome and funny and gave us kingfisher beer so we could sit in the garden. Our bathroom is opposite our room but private, it is a massive room with a shower that doesn't drain underneath but into a tiny whole in the corner, there are also two buckets filled with water but i have yet to figure out exactly what they are for. There is no hot water but cold showers are nice when it's 30 degrees outside..yes you heard right thirty.
Seeing as we left on the 25th and arrived on the 27th today has felt like the longest day of all time. Even though we were tired we got ready and walked to the gateway to India, It was beautiful. Weirdly because we are white everybody stares at us and people ask for pictures. It's like being a celebrity only really creepy like.
Being white in India also means scouts follow us around offering us trips, and salesmen try and get us to buy stuff by walking next to us continually dropping the price of their merchandise. I didn't think it was the smartest strategy well until Jen bought a drum.
Said drum made us further targets as now we had a piece of evidence on us suggesting we would buy more stuff. We were smart and listened to the scouts asked how much stuff cost then walked back to Raj to see if he could get us a cheaper deal. He could.
That day we saw the Jain temple, the Gandhi Museum, the Train station, Laundry Washing and the Hanging Gardens, we just couldn't stop doing stuff, The Jain temples were amazing, today is actually the last day of the Jain Festival in Mumbai, which we found out when a man came and put bracelets on our arms, gave us white candy and pained a red bindi on our heads. He then asked for a donation, when we returned to the hotel you could tell Raj was not impressed. The temple was lavishly decorated in streamers and incense was burning. We went in bare foot and took an obnoxious amount of photos. It smelled amazing. The Gandhi museum was also really cool. Jen summed it up well when she said he'd spend a lot of time in Prison. He truly is a crusader, non compliance and non violence were his tools and boy did he use them well. He actually wrote a letter to Hitler..Hitler! essentially telling him enough was enough. Stern yet respectful I can see why the Indians put him on the money. When it comes to the laundry washing you have to see it to really understand how immense it was. Miles of people standing in dug out drains beating clothes again stone walls to get them clean. I contemplated making a washing machine joke but asked myself what Gandhi would do and kept quiet.
By the end of the day we were dead to the world, took a nap and ate at Leopold cafe. I had chicken tika it was amazing and not exactly part of the vegetarian lifestyle I had envisioned for myself in India. Had a shower, fell over the step on the way out into the hallway and finally went to bed. Day One had been mental.
Today we woke up nice and early and had breakfast outside the hotel. Raj came outside and sat with us we were slowly becoming his favorites. The egg omlettes here are massively delicious and they come with Spicy Ketchup. We ate quickly and headed out to catch a ferry to Elephanta Island. The caves are amazing they're full of these ornately carved images of Shiva (the destroyer of evil) Elephanta is about an hour boat ride from the gateway and me and Jen spent most of the ride discussing what we had named the 'Juice of Indecision' Earlier that morning we had drunk a hand made smoothie and we were concerned it may have contained unfiltered water and come back to haunt us, luckily we made it to Elephanta still feeling good and we were already considering having one the next day.
We had to climb a million stairs to get to the caves, but it was worth it in the end. Elephanta Island is dotted with cows, dogs and monkeys, and after telling Jen a million times not to pet the dogs, i got suckered into feeding one water after it came to rub it's head on my leg. I immediately got told off by a local who told me I was 'playing with fire' feeding the rabid dog and rather than agree with him and tell him I'd been saying the same thing all day I got defensive and told him I was fine. The monkeys were hilarious you couldn't turn a corner without seeing one eating some corn or picking through Garbage. Jen and I were stopped at a market stall only to see a monkey sitting on the edge of the table. The vendor was reading the newspaper and just as I was joking about our new monkey vendor, he put some hair clips in his mouth and ran away up a tree. We alerted the vendor but couldn't help giggling as we watched him shouting at the monkey to come back.
On the way back from Elephanta we went to visit the Taj International Hotel. It is still being restored a year later. It is truly beautiful and extraordinarily lavish. We came back to the hotel and had a beer. Raj told us about the experience of being so close to a terrorist attack. It became even more horrific hearing it first hand. We ended the conversation by asking what they though they had achieved. It got a little heavy so we told Raj our monkey story. He managed to one up us by telling us that, that morning he had woken up to an owl in the living room, a story Jen confirmed with Raj's wife on the phone.
We had a nap and woke up pretty full so drank beer instead of going for dinner, a decision me and Jen we very pleased with. We went for a little walk and discussed how immense the poverty was in India. Its more the juxtaposition of it all, with the exuberant Taj vs the people on the streets it felt a little odd, and when we met a girl on the way home who gave us flowers we wondered if we could do something to help. We offered her money but she asked if instead we could buy her food for her and her sister. So we took her to the store and bough her some rice and milk.
In other news Jen managed to turn the whole tourist thing on its head and took a picture of a group of ladies looking at us. They looked incredible all sitting together in different coloured Saris. Everywhere in India is so colourful. We are off to Goa tomorrow, lots of beach time to relax, will miss Mumbai lots and lots especially the horn honking.
So ok, I only managed to fit Mumbai into this post, and I will do Goa in the next one. My note taking got shorter and shorter as the trip progressed, and I like to think rather than laziness it was due to most of my time being spent doing things rather than documenting them. I can't wait to share more, India is spectacular and you should all visit it!
I also have a small amount of chocolate news, which I will share in my next blog, see readers I haven't forgotten about you xxxx