Sunday, March 4, 2012

Photobookgirl's My Publisher giveaway is celebrating its 2-year anniversary by giving away some My Publisher gift cards.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Traveling across the Indian countryside

Monday was mostly a day of travel for us with a stop or two mixed in throughtout the day.

Our day started out with a 3-hour train ride to Jhansi. This is our second train ride of the trip and it went a little smoother than the first one. Our first train ride out of Ranthambore was hectic since we didn't know what to expect and only had 2 minutes to get all 29 of us onto the train and settled. This time, the train stopped in Agra for 5 minutes which made it a much more relaxed and less stressful boarding experience. While the u train seems similar to the first one, this one offers a bottle of water that is actually safe to drink, and food we could eat. I didn't bother with the food.  Our first train ride was also stressful bc we almost didn't get everyone off the train. It started moving, but our guide managed to get them to stop the train so they could get off.

From Jhansi, we drove to Orchha for lunch to see the temples there. It is very warm in Orchha bc it is built on a granite plate.  However, before we went to the temples, there were these memorials built by the families by our lunch stop. They weren't mausoleums bc Hindus are creamated, not buried, but they were just large bldgs to remember their loved ones. I took some time taking pictures, finding a group of women gathering by the river, either getting ready to do laundry or having just completed. A number of locals were fascinated by me and wanted a picture, even though I totally looked like crap, its the whole light skin concept.

We finally went to the palaces which are some of the few that have not been destroyed.  Raja means King so this is the kings palace. The palace has painting on some of the ceilings and walls that from 500 years ago. The queen's bedroom has a 360 degree painting of the reincarnation of
vishnu on the ceiling and walls. Jahangi palace has indo-Muslim architecture. Ceramic tile bldg was women's palace.  

After leaving Orchha, we talked with Piyush a bit about Hinduism and inter-denominational marriage in India. Apparently, one can't convert to Hinduism, but can only be born into it. We then asked what happens to children of interdenominational.marriages, so a Hindu and Muslim union or even a Hindu and Jewish union. Piyush said that the children of those marriages would not be considered or accepted as Hindu bc they were not born to 2 Hindu patents. However, nowadays people are becoming little more accepting. It sounds similar to the ideas that you aren't Jewish unless your mother is Jewish.

After a long 5-hour drive, we made it to khajuraho for the evening.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


While we only spent the early morning at the Taj, there were still other places to see in Agra. After our brunch, we headed out to Agra Grt which is where the palace was. Shah Jahan was also imprisoned here by his son who overthrew him, to live out the rest of his days gazing out at the Taj Mahal from his perch. As always, there was great architectural detail including arched.doorways that frame the next room, or courtyards, etc.

One room was really neat. There, if you stand in one corner with someone standing into the opposite corner across the room, and literally talk into the corner, you can hear that person perfectly.  It was like the time I was at the imax and Leif and I could talk to each other from opposite ends of the theater.

From there, we went to.see how they make the inlaid stone and marble pieces that are all over the Taj. I had no interest until I spotted an elephant that Das inlaid with lapis lazulli and mother of pearl, among others. It was stunning. Lynn also had her eye on one and we did some really good negotiating.  We are both very excited about our ellies.

I attempted to buy some spices but wasn't so crazy about them. I'll wait for another stop probably delhi. I spent the rest of the day chilling out. We have another early morning tomorrow so I am now off to bed.

Taj Mahal!!!!!!!

This morning we rode tongas (horse buggies) over to the Taj Mahal around 6am. We managed to get there pretty early so there weren't a ton of people on line yet. Five minutes later there were throngs of people coming down the street to get in. base on what we saw last butt from across the river, this was nothing compared to the.crowds that would show up later in the day.

At the front entrance gate, they have you lined up like cattle (literally, you are in single file cattle-like corrals) in lines of Indian women, Indian men, "high valued" men and "high valued" women. Since foreigners have to pay several hundred rupees more than the locals to get in, that must be why we were in the "high value" value line.

There's so much to say about the Taj, most of which you can read online. Basically, the Taj is the mausoleum for Shah Jahan's favorite wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. Shah Jahan promised to keep her close and never forget her, so he built this unbelievable testament to his love for her.

On a side note, last night we went to this terrible show, Kalakriti, which told the story of Shah Jahan and the Taj Mahal. ifyou ever come to Agra it is a torist trap and terrible acting. I thougt it.was a dance show, but the cheese factor was thru the roof! But I digress, I'm here to talk about the Taj.

The Taj was built next to the Moon Gardens, where they knew there would never be development on any side. In addition, the Yamuna River was redirected after the Taj was built bw the Taj and the Moon Gardens to increase the humidity level at the Taj.  Sandstone and marble crack in dry weather and it is very dry at the dry time of year. Trust me, I know. My skin is so dry right now.  

Inside the Taj itself are the fake tombs you can see on the main floor. They sit above the real tombs which are much further below. Shah Jahan lived many years after his wife died, hut was eventually buried next to her. The four minarets that surround the Taj are purposefully angled to the outside so they do not fall on the Taj and are also there to help keep it from shifting or sinking. Somehow thy balance it out.

Walking in thru the archway was an incredible sight. You are just humbled by the beauty of the.pools, the gardens, the symmetry and the majesty of the Taj itself. They have the pools ropes odlff, so even wkg the.crowds, you still get amazing views and photos.I had been worried about that, but there was no need. We got there at sunrise, and were there for close to 2 hours, if not a little more. What was amazing is I could have photographed Tue building all day long, bc with each change of the angle of the sun the colors of the Taj changed too. It was amazing!

We were told before going inside to ignore the Indian men who offer to show where to get the best pictures and/or take pictures for you.  Untried to ignore these offers at first, but when I saw the photos taken by one of the women in my group who hooked up with one of those guys early on, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. Well worth the money to take advantage of their knowledge. I got some amazing pictures from angles I never would have thought of. I highly recommended seeking one of these guys out from the outset!  It is definitely worth a few hundred extra rupees!

I felt I had to be dragged away from the Taj Mahal. Like I said, I could have stayed all day.


NB: I have tried to email this post to blogger five times now. Very frustrated. Was in Ranthambore 2 days ago. I had pictures and will try to upload them another way later. For now, enjoin.

This morning we woke up early (again) to set out on our 4-hour drive to Ranthambore to see the tigers. Before leaving Jaipur, however, we stopped by a few sites for a few photo opps. The first place we stopped at was the Palace of the Winds. It's not really a palace, but a place where the royal women could look out at the people on the street without being seen. It was merely a facade bc the building was only 1-room deep. The building was designed in such a way that it created a breeze for those sitting by the windows. That's why it is called the palace of the winds.

Our next photo stop was in front of a palace built for the Prince of Wales for when he came to visit India. After the Indians gained their independence, it was turned into a museum. The palace was built in the 1800s. There were lots of pigeons on the road in front of the museum.

The ride to Ranthambore was long. We stopped at a tourist test stop for a bathroom break, where I found the elephant wall-hanging I was looking for. Yay!

After we finally made it to our hotel and had lunch, we set off in 2 open top jeeps in search of tigers. We saw many wildlife, including the black faced langur monkeys, sambar deer, caracal, common kingfisher, peacocks (and peahen), crested serpent eagle, red water lapwing, cormorants, great egret, grey heron, and many more.

Of course, the main attraction was the tiger, which we never saw even after two safari rides. We thought we were close on our evening ride bc something was creaking out the sambar deer, which are the tiger's favorite meal. The deer were on high alert and "stomping" their hooves in a way that indicated a tiger was near. Turns out it was just a caracal nearby. On our morning ride, we saw fresh tiger tracks but must have missed the tiger by 20-30 minutes. Bummer. Even though we didn't spot a tiger, we still saw some amazing wildlife and I got some great pictures.

The monkeys were all over and at the end of our morning ride, some even jumped onto our jeeps! There were these brown and yellow birds that were also quite friendly, and when we put out nuts they flew onto our heads and arms. It was a bit of a trip, especially since I was the only one without a hat on.

Our hotel happens to have a pet elephant, so I made it a point to get a picture with it. I fed it some bread but she ate it quicker than we could get a picture.

After our second ride we went to the village women ccrafts cooperative where they make carpets and bedcovers, and wall hangings. Afterwards, we went to a women's self help initiative where they made cotton textiles. Both places had some great stuff. I found a bedcover for my back room that matches my Vietnamese fisherman I bought when I went to Vietnam. I also got a beaded wall hanging in gorgeous deep blues.

Tomorrow we leave for Agra and the Taj Mahal and travel part of the way by train. Should be an interesting experience.

Bharatpur to Agra

This morning we woke up before the crack of dawn, again, to catch a train to Bharatpur. Since we sent our bags ahead with the bus yesterday, we had to ride the open air jeeps (in the freezing cold) to the train station. It was quite cold this morning, especially with the added breeze from the jeep. Brrrrr.

Train ride was good and pretty uneventful. I couldn't really take many pics bc you're not supposed to for security reasons. I did take a few stealth pictures though, including a video of everyone on the train platform. ;-)

We stopped at the Laxmi Vilas Palace for brunch in Bharatpur, which is still home to the former Maharajah's youndger brother.  I finally had some masala chai there. Very different from the US version of chai. Not as sweet and b/c it is winter, it is mixed with some fresh ginger. Apparently, in the summer they add in fresh mint.

After lunch, we headed out to Fatehpur Sikri, which was a city built by the mutual emperor in the 16th century. The city was larger than London when it was constructed, but was only the capital for 14 years from 1571 to 1585.

On the bus up to the fort was a couple of Brits, one of which was born in India and moved when she was a baby soon after the revolution.  Her parents were bitter about being forced out and only now, for her 60th birthday did she finally come back and see where she was born. Dad is still not happy about her coming here.

When we arrived in Agra, we immediately drove to the Moon Garden to take pictures of the Taj Mahal from across the river. Wow! I don't know what to say. The building is unbelievable. I can't even imagine how speechless I am going to be in the morning when we actually go inside to see it. We were just in the gardens for 45 min and the changing colors were wild. hard to believe it until you see it.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jaipur pictures

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jaipur, Part II

Yesterday we rode the elephants up to the amber fort which was the palace for the Maharajah. The "fort" was on top of a hill and quite large. The architectural detail was impressive, especially for how old it was. The summer area of the palace was set up with gardens and light walls to deal with the heat. The air ventilation system was quite impressive. The split in the latice details of the windows slanted up and out to slow for the release of the rising hot air. We should take some cues from that.
The fort also utilized mirrors in its room designs so they could utilized natural moonlight to illuminate the semi-outdoor rooms in the garden area. It was a way to reduce or roommate the need for candles used in the evenings. Not sure if that was for conservation issues or to prevent fires, or what.

Once we finished we were bombarded once again by the throngs of hawkers. It was a feeding frenzy. I have never been overwhelmed by so many people selling the same chintzy goods. No, was not a word they understood. Piyush eventually got fed up and had us get on bus and bargained for us for each item to be 100 rupees.  Made life a bit easier, but wish I had waited to get some of the stuff. I got good deals, but some, not that good.

Afterwards we stopped at Bhandari jewellers. Jaipur is supposedly known for its jewelry, especially its gemstones. There thy showed us how they cut and polish different gemstones. Of course, they then invite you to shop at their store after the "demonstration."  The jewelry wasn't really my style but I did see a long silver strand with individual cuts of citrine topaz that I could wrap around several times.  It was nice and I was thinking if buying it until he said it was $1000. No friggin way was I spending that much on a piece of jewellery. Maybe $100 for it, but not that high.  I didn't love it that much to even consider negotiating a smaller number.

After an included lunch at, of all places, Holiday Inn, we went to the Old City of Jaipur to see the city palace and Jantar Mantar. Jaipur is known as the pink city bc all the buildings in the old city are a pink or salmon color. However, the buildings that are part of the Maharajah's palace are yellow. Similar to the Chinese total buildings.

Our first stop in the old city was Jantar Mantar, an observatory complex built by the Maharajah in 1728. The complex is a series of structures that are used to calculate the local solar time, sun signs, lunar signs and other astrological data. India is one time zone, and the time is calculated based on the longitude at Alabad (sp?), the central most point in India. The Maharajah calculated, based on these instruments, that local (or solar) time in Jaipur is 41 minutes ahead of Alabad. So, if you add 41 minutes to the official time it is in India, you get the local time in Jaipur. Wild!  In addition to the instruments built to determine the sun and star signs for the.days.and seasons, Jantar Mantar has the worlds largest sun dial, which is accurate to within 2 seconds. Again, pretty impresive considering it was built in the 18th century. Looking at the.side of the sun dial's main structure remimded me of a de chirico painting with its different intersecting lines.  The zodiac and rising sun sign prediction instruments switch every 2 hours. The Maharajah cut the instrument in two pieces so that you read one piece for 2 hours and switch to the other piece for 2 hours, etc. This was done so the astronomers could get in and get more detailed with calculations.  Once you have calcculated the sun sign, you move to the individual star sign instruments to get the rising sign. It really is neat. There was also an instrument to calculate the altitude of the sun. Right now the altitude or incline of the sun is at 40 degrees. It is amazing how you can use mathematics to figure this all out.

After leaving Jantar Mantar, we walked across the street and into the City Palace, a museum and the residence of the current Maharajah.  We visited the palace, saw some of the beautiful textles worn by the court, and the architectural details of the palace.  

After a long day, we went ham to the hotel to regroup before our evening activities. Our hotel overlooked the Palace on the.Lake so I went out and got some great late afternooon photos of the palace and the dam, which was originally built in 1799.

Before dinner we had time to walk thru one of the bazaars in town. I had an agenda but didn't really find what I was looking for. Instead, I found some bangles for myself and the girls for dress up. I was hoping to find some clothes for the.girls.but o.wasn't thrilled with what I saw.

Our dinner was really special. A local family hosted all of us for dinner in their home. They are an extended family that has lived in its ancestral home since the mid 18th century. The house was given to the family in 1766. Two of the daughter-in-laws hosted us and gave us a tour of the home. They were both in their mid-thirties and each had 1 kid, ages 6 and 7.  They, along with the other women in the family, cooked a wonderful dinner for us. They sat and asked us questions and answered any questions we had. The one DIL worked at an international school but is currently on sabbatical earning another degree and getting ready to move to Mumbai where her husband has a new job.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jaipur - Amber Fort

Today we had a full day tour of Jaipur, which was the capital in the 11th century.

We started the day bright and early with an elephant ride up to amber fort. Bill and I shared an elephant and had a blast. Aside from the thrill and novelty of riding an elephant, we had some great views of the fort and the valley below. In addition, we were beseiged with hawkers trying to sell anything from tshirts to turbans to metal peacocks, all while we were bouncing around on the elephants. You had no reprieve from them. It's funny how the price of items view down as you go further up. Two folks got turbans at 500 rupees each. Another 2 struck what they thought was a deal at 300 rupees each. I managed, without any negotiating, to get a turban for 200 rupees ($4).  Now, what am I going to do with a turban????  Eric, I know you are dying for one, right?

Unlearned a ton of history about the fort that I could relayed back to you, but typing this out on the droid is killing me. Plus, I need to get to bed.

For now, I leave you with pictures and will post more about today, tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


This morning I woke up before sunrise to try and capture it again, but it was overcast, kind of like it was at angkor way so no great pics for me.  We had a sunrise yoga session this morning on one of the patio levels. It was my first time doing yoga so it was neat to do it in India for the first time.  

We packed our bags and headed out for the nosh ride on lake pichola that we had missed due to a delayed flight. We rode the boat around the lake a bit looking at the beautiful architecture and the women washing clothes and bathing on its banks.

We then got out at the jagkadir island palace, took in the views, and had a nice outdoor lunch. Afterwards we headed back to the airport for our flight to Jaipur.  

We got into Jaipur late, so no time to really go out to dinner. I ate in the hotel instead. There were some guys putting on puppet shows wkg the hope that you would buy puppets afterwards. The puppet show was great!  Loved the puppets and bought one that the girls can play with when they come to visit.  I really liked it.

I need to go to bed now.since we will be up early to catch some elephants for a ride to the fort.

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Udaipur, the white city

I slept wonderfully in my palace hotel room last night. I woke up with the intent of watching the sun rise, but I apparently had the time wrong. By the time i woke up the sun was just about up. I will have to get up earlier tomorrow to make it. We are at such a beautiful setting that it would be a crime not to get up to see it.

We had breakfast again out on the patio, watching the sun climb into the sky over the valley. It was spectacular. I took lots of photos, as you can see.  

Udaipur was the seat of one of the dynasties in the 16th century. The city palace, or winter palace, sat in the valley next to the lakes, but during the monsoon season, they built a palace on top of one of the hills by our hotel due to the flooding.  The dynasty dammed the lakes so that they could have fresh drinking water after the rains. It made the area a much more livable place.

Our first stop this morning was the Jagdish Temple. The temple is dedicated tongue Hindu god, Vishnu. Ee spent a very longtime outside the temple learning about Hinduism, but I couldn't concentrate. What I enjoyed most was going into the temple and watching and hearing the men and women singing and praying. They seemed so joyful and happy. It wad a wonderful experience.

There were a number of shops along the road the temple was on and the folks in our group were itching to shop at this point. I went along sob folks to a textiles shop someone's friend recommended with no intention of buying anyhing. Little did I knowbthry would have exactly what I was looking for. I found a large silk/pahmina shawl that is the size almost of a twin bed. Its differynt colors of blue and I love it.  It's also so soft.

After the tornado of women left the shop, we headed over to the city palace about was built in 1725. The palace had short doors so soldiers would enter with their heads bowed. That's why massive doors had small window in them. This was more of a defense mechanism than anything else. The architectural detail and colors were beautiful. The palace is now the seat of the current Maharajah.

We then went to the Sahelion-ki-Bari gardens and then learned about the centuries old miniature paintings done at the palace. The painters are the descendants of those who painted the paintings in the city palace. Thy showed us how they make the pigments and then showed us their work. I had not planned to get anything, but fell for some work done on crushed camel bone.

I'm now chilling out in my room, waiting for the sun Robert and meet up with folks for a cocktail party. Tomorrow morning I'll he up before sunrise to get some photos and also for a sunrise yoga session. It will be my first time doing yoga. Not a bad place to finally try out yoga. ;-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012


We finally arrived in Udaipur around 5:30. We missed the boat ride by a long shot, but we'll do if before we leave in 2 days. Our ride to the hotel was supposed to be about 45 min, but due to a Muslim processional for a holiday, we were rerouted and it took a much longer time to get here. While I'm totally exhausted, the beauty if the hotel is not lost on me. We are in top of a mountain overlooking the town and lakes.  Even in the dark of night our view is spectacular.

We had dinner outside on the patio, overlooking the mountains and lake. After dinner, I took some time to get some great night photos of the infinity pool and the beautiful Hindu statues  around it. Unfortunately, the night pictures from my phone don't do the hotel justice. I'll post day pictures tomorrow. The really good night pictures were taken on my good camera and you'll have to wait to see them after I get home.

Delhi - Day 3

Today we are scheduled to fly to udaipur, but we aren't quite sure when we are actually flying out. The airline, kingfisher, keeps changing the flight times on us. So odd. Still, we are going with the flow and continuing our tour of Delhi until we know when we can leave.

We started the morning out with a reading of the "matrimonial" section in the Sunday paper. This section is an ISO section for families looking to make a match for heir son or daughter. It is quite detailed and was pretty comical to our western ears. However, most of us would not have put it past our Jewish mothers to try and do something similar to find us a match! LOL!  I don't have a copy of the paper right now, but I hope to get a picture later thus trip to give you an idea of the typed if ads listed.

What's interesting is the matrimonial section is set up by caste system.  95% of marriages in India are arranged. Our guide's marriage was arranged. He first met his wife when ur was younger and tjw 2nd time he met his wife was when he married her. Things have since changed and while he never spoke baffle to his parents his kids do. He's not sure ifbhis kids would be open to an arranged marriage.  Arranged marriages aren't about individuals, but about families. The parents think in terms of whether the match would be good for *our* family.  Also, the horoscope is important in determining whether it would be a good marriage or not.

Our first stop today was Qtab Minar. It's a tower built by one if the earlier Muslim dynasties in the 12th century. I must admit i really didn't pay much attention to what Piyush was saying about the site, do there's not much I can share.  The architecture and ruins were really neat so I just wandered around, taking lots of pictures. At one point there were a bunch of families taking family pictures and a friend offered to take a picture for one of them. The family then asked us to all join in as well, so I now have a great picture with my new Indian family. ;-)  Others then asked me to take pictures with them as well. It was as if I was back at the Great Wall when all the Chinese and Japanese men wanted pictures with me!  Blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin is a novelty here. We got lots of stares yesterday and I expect to get many more throughout the trip.

After Qtab Minar, we headed to the airport to fly to Udaipur. Our flight was originally scheduled for 12:15, but kept getting changed on us, as I mentioned above.  At this point we are supposedly leaving at 3:30. We were supposed to go on a boat ride tonight, but now of looks like we are going to miss it. Hopefully we can reschedule it for tomorrow night.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Delhi - Old and New - Day 2

This afternoon we had a tour of old and new Delhi.  We drove around a lot, but then went to Chandni Chowk which is old Delhi at its craziest.  Before I came to India, Anj had told me not to go there by myself bc I could get mugged or hurt. O didn't think it was bad at all. It was chaos, but not bad like Anj made it out to be.

We took a rickshaw ride throughout the narrow streets of Chandni Chowk, riding thru shoe stalls, Saree stalls, etc. It was total chaos with people, rickshaws, motor bikes, mini trucks, bikes, and more all trying to get to one place. We sat in an an insane traffic jam for a long time bc no one would give way to someone else. It was insane. I wish I had my point and shoot on me to take a video of the chaos. Our guide, Puyash, said he's never seen anything like it before. Of course, bc we were tied up for so long we didn't get to go see the Red Fort. I'll have to go back to see it on the back end other trip.

We did a lot of driving today to and from our different stops. This afternoon, we went to see Humayun's Tomb, which was built in the 16th century and is seen as a precursor to the Taj Mahal. It is made of red sandstone and white marble and is really very beautiful, especially when the late day sun hits it.

Afterwards, we drove to India Gate, which is a war memorial to the 90,000 soldiers of the British Indian army in WWI, but also reminiscent of the famous arch in Paris.

Tonight there was a Hindu wedding celebration outside if out hotel. Several of us stopped to look and someone (family member or mother of the bride, maybe?) asked UA if we wanted to get closer and see the bride. She even offered to let us get a picture with the bride and groom, but we declined. Felt it was too intrusive. We gave her a congratulatory salutation and moved on. She was a beautiful bride.

Our first day was a very long day. Tomorrow starts even earlier as we continue to tour Delhi and then fly to Udaipur.

Chadni chowk
Rickshaw ride
nk it was that bad.
Guide says he never saw a traffic jam like it.

Indian army environmental and oxygen park

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Delhi Sunrise

That's right. Not only was I up early enough to see it, but I was even at the gym watching it come up. The beauty of jet lag and time changes. Here's your night owl who will sleep until the last possible moment up before the sunrise and doing a hill workout on the treadmill as the sun comes up. It was a nice way to start the day.

Getting ready to go down and meet the group for breakfast in a about a half hour.  So excited to really go explore Delhi today!

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Delhi day 1

Today is a mellow day. I didn't go to sleep until 2am and b/c of that I slept until 12:30!  Kind of messed up the day a bit. Went to the lobby and ran into Norma from my Costa Rica trip and a friend of hers. Will probably meet up with them for some dinner.  For now, I think I'll just relax and find a throw away phone.


Finding a phone was quite an experience. The concierge at the hotel sent me to a place nearby. It was smaller than my bathroom. While everyone speaks English here it is still hard to understand what folks are saying due to their accent. I was a bit confused for a while, but eventually figured it out.  They wanted to take my passport and photocopy it, but I refused unless I went with them. They said I should *trust* him, but there was no way I was letting it out of my sight!  So, I had another interesting experience going to the copy closet/hole in the wall. Eventually it all worked out , I got my phone and got in touch with Nidhi, Anj's cousin. I will meet up with her at the end of the trip when I return to Delhi.

One place Nidhi suggested I go today was to Dilli Haat, a shopping bazaar/market. I took a cab, during rush hour, so it took a good 45 min just to get there. The market was overwhelming. Not overwhelming with people so much as overwhelming with stalls selling so many pashminas. You should be so proud of me, I didn't buy a thing! Figured I have 2 weeks to buy stuff and if it is something I really want I can go back at the end of the trip when I am back in Delhi.

I'm beat. It's now 12:30 and I need to get some sleep.  My roommate just arrived and we've been yapping away.  Tomorrow I meet up with the rest of the group for our tour of new and old Delhi.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I'm here!  After a 14 hour flight I am all checked into my hotel in Delhi. The flight wasn't bad at all. I felt like I had tons of room in my seat which I didn't have for my other trips and the food wasn't bad either.  I lucked out b/c the woman sitting next to me in the middle seat didnt have a tray table and they moved her to another middle seat leaving me with even more space to spread out and sleep. Managed to sleep for 8-9 hours, even w/ a kid behind me whose parents would not control him (screeching, kicking my seat constantly, etc.). I could hear him *talking* loud and clear with my earplugs in. Sigh. I'm so used to my nieces who are such good girls and understand restaurant voices and are wonderful to fly with (so I hear).  I think I never heard the mom tell him to shush or tell him to stop kicking my seat, even when I asked her nicely.

It wasn't until later in the flight that o remembered my friend Das from law school explaining family dynamics in India. I had commented about being at an Indian restaurant and how the boy was all over the place and in the waiters' way, playing with cars on the floor, etc., while his sister sat there quiet and was reprimanded when she did something minuscule at the table. Das told me that boys are not disciplined b/c they are boys and more important in the family dynamic, while girls are kept on a tight leash and disciplined.  Recalling that conversation with Das, I believe that is probably why the parents sat there and did nothing.

Ok, so first impressions of India?

Well, I arrived at night so there's not too much I could see.  I will say that as soon as I stepped off the plane, even on the jetway, it smelled like there was a fire near by. Kind of reminded me of Beijing when we left the airport. There, it wad b/c of the coal the Chinese burned for heat. However, this was much more pronounced.  Here there was a smoky haze throughout the main arrivals area at the airport. Stepping outside was like stepping into a layer of smoke that just hovered there. Even walking into the hotel there was a haze in the main lobby.  I'm definitely nervous about how my lungs will hold up here.  The guy who picked us up at the airport said this was typical of Delhi in winter and didn't really notice it b/c that's how it always is.

Everyone seems very nice and I did not notice anyone who was clamoring to get me in their taxi or other stories I've been told. Everything was very easy. That impression will probably change tomorrow. ;-)

I'm staying tonite at the Janakapur Hilton. Beautiful hotel and very security conscious. Not only was the undercarriage of our van checked for bombs at the gate into the hotel, but we also had to go thru security before entering the lobby.  Crazy!

I haven't thought much yet about what I'm doing tomorrow. Apparently 15 or so folks have already arrived, but I don't know who. All I know is I need to make myself go to sleep soon so I can acclimate to the time zone and be ready to go the next day.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I got a new phone a few months ago and now that I'm headed to India in a few days, I need to refresh my memory on sending posts and pictures to the blog while I'm gone.

Let's try this picture from the plane home from Florida last month.