Post-India Post

Since coming back from India haven’t actually had time to sit and collect my thoughts about my trip. In fact most of my reflection so far has been from me telling friends and co-workers about the trip so sometimes the thoughts coming from me are the first time I’ve heard these thoughts myself. I definitely wasn’t expecting the experience I got, but then most of my pre-conceived notions about India and the local culture have been from movies and television, and those are rarely ever real.

Dress :

Almost all the women I’ve seen in India are draped in bright, beautifully ornate saris, scarves and kurtis. This is true despite their wealth. Even at poverty levels or rural areas the women are brightly dressed.

I suppose if they have the money then they get the joy of adorning themselves with bangles, anklets and earrings. Some younger Indian women dress in Western wear (read: skinny jeans and a modest top).
One of the things I noted when doing my very brief pre-India trip was that India has a mix of different religions and thus so many different lifestyles. I have also seen many Muslim women in their traditional black burkas, but not as many as I thought considering how religiously diverse India is, and especially since the area where we’ve been doing sightseeing is closer to predominately Muslim counties. I’ve also seen a few Sikhs as well. It is especially fun when Sikh men ride around on on scooters because their facial hair blows gracefully in the wind.

just to give you an idea
(photo by Anthony Robson)


The men are dressed much less, still they’re not walking around wearing t-shirts and shorts. Most men wear button down shirts and slacks, though some younger men will wear jeans. It also seems common for babies in impoverished areas to not wear pants. They do wear shirts though, after all they’re not barbarians.

Standard modes of motorized transport are motorcycle or scooter, auto rickshaw and car. It’s not unusual to see an auto rickshaw (designed to seat three in the back with another space in the front, next to driver) filled to the brim with people, especially in the mornings and afternoon when kids are going to and from school.

The driving situation in India is very complicated but also as basic as walking. You go where you can go, if something is in your way you stop or go around it. Of course there are two directions of traffic, and like in England, one drives on the left side of the road, however sometimes exceptions can be made. If there is no center median at an intersection, you can, of course, take up some of the lanes of opposing traffic to wait for the light. No problem! If there’s an obstruction on your side of the street, like say a pothole or traffic jam, just drive on the other side of the road to get around it. Use this method sparingly.

This also means you don’t have to worry about lanes, they’re more like a suggestion anyway. If there is space for your motorcycle, auto rickshaw, or car to fit between two cars, go for it! Wedge into that space and drive. Don’t forget to honk to let other drivers know your whereabouts. Also honk when you are passing other vehicles, when you are in a blind spot, when you are in a visible spot, when you’re coming to an intersection where other cars or pedestrians could cross, or if the light has just turned green and you want to make sure everyone around you knows it.

There are several types of horns equipped on vehicles in India. You have your standard horn (honk honk), your Xena Warrior Princess, your silly song horn, and your dying cow horn.

There are advantages and disadvantages of riding a motorcycle as opposed to a car but the motorcycles seem more handy. You give up the comfort (air conditioning) and safety but you get much more versatility! You can still take the fam to visit the countryside, I’ve seen two adults with two small children on one bike before.

In respect to traffic, Delhi is probably the worst city I’ve visited in India. “it is very traffic” as drivers here would say.

From what I’ve learned from two different sources, the average pay for a day of work is 150-200 rupees, which is equivalent to $2.70 – $3.70. This boggles my mind. I know the cost of living is different but I still wonder what gets paid in terms of living expenses and how often.

Most dogs I’ve seen while here appear to be “wild”, that is, they don’t belong to anyone and they are free to walk around, breed and eat whatever trash they can find. There are plenty of monkeys in certain areas. There weren’t many in Mumbai the city but there were definitely monkeys on Elephanta Island, which is off the coast of Mumbai.

And there were wild monkeys running around the rooftops of Agra. We also saw camels – these were not wild and a few elephants. Also saw a lot of peacocks, and a herd of horned mammals over at Sikandra:


Oh and I did this in India:

The full Flickr photo set of pictures from India can be seen here.

Mumbai and Delhi Recap

Bombay to Delhi as the locals would say

Patrick and I have traveled from Mumbai to Delhi yesterday and got a few hours in Delhi to get driven to India Gate, the Presidential house, Parliament house and past some embassies. Also, we stopped by the travel agent who helped us book everything here in the Delhi, Jaipur, Agra area and she took me to her henna guy down the street:

We’re supposed to start getting ready soon for today’s leg from Delhi to Jaipur, so I don’t have a lot of time to think about what I want to say.  I’m actually awake at 5 am just thought I’d get some time in to jot some stuff dwn before I have too much to write! Here are some observations I have made in the past few days in short Tweet-like thoughts:

In Mumbai we did some shopping at a mall, not to different from one back home. They even had a McDonalds with a Filet-O-Fish, and some McChicken burgers (instead of beef, obviously)

However, we did find some other places that seemed to sell beef burgers (we didn’t eat them)

Despite staying at hotels that are all LEED certified and seeing a lot of public service posters about reducing pollution and “going green” it seems that there are a lot of people here who teach their young to litter at an early age. It was quite irksome.

The air quality in Mumbai leaves something to be desired.

However, the air quality when we arrived in Delhi was much worse. It smelled like the city had been burning and it looked like it too. The afternoon sky was red through the dust and smoke.

Cows here are sacred, of course, so they get to do whatever they want, but I’ve also noticed some cows tied to things, I wonder what that is about. Are people keeping them as pets?

Speaking of pets, there are a lot of feral dogs and cats. They are all skinny. The dogs are usually a mid-sized to large breed, something like a lab or retriever, mostly short-haired. I did see one that was much fluffier the other day but that seems rare.

The birds seem to be the healthiest wild animals in the city. There are more crows or ravens than pigeons. The pigeons here have much shinier, iridescent neck feathers, not sure if that’s due to the humidity, their diet or the general health of the birds.

This is probably true in other countries as well but, as a tourist, you’re going to have to hone your haggling skills and be constantly ready to decline the offers for unrequested goods and services, as well as general begging.

If you’re in Delhi, stop by Kahn’s Market. In the alleyway there is a restaurant called The Kitchen. Get the Khao Suey or Hawker Noodles.

Also, caught this tear-jerking story on BBC world news this AM



Long Way To Go And A Short Time To Get There

At some point in growing up, flying has become less fun and become more and more unnatural feeling. Not only are you packed in to a big machine but you’re kind of forced to stay inside your little imaginary cube of space. Eat this space food at this time like everyone else. (Eat your soylent green, dear.) Pretend to be comfortable with this for 8 hours please.

At some point they need to work on a shrink ray or some time suspension if they don’t figure out teleportation sooner.

I arrived in London yesterday as scheduled but in the middle of my flight across the US one of the English flight attendants (I thought to my self “How quaint, they all have accents.” but of course they all have accents, it’s British Airways!) informed me that my connecting flight to Mumbai that night had been canceled. I couldn’t really do anything but laugh. It was pretty amusing. Of course something would go wrong.

Anyway, BA was pretty grand about it and put us up in an airport hotel for the night, which meant I got to go into London for a bit last night.

More on this later, flight is boarding!

Running on 4 hours of interval naps (kept waking up each hour afraid of being woken up by the hotel alarm clock which was stationed on the other side of the room). Now dirty chai at LHR, making my Mumbai Wishlist:
1. Elephanta Island – monkeys live here!
2. Prince of Wales Museum – they have old stuff!
3. And maybe some places from this old Design Sponge city guide:

But I think we only have one day in Mumbai now (thanks to the flight cancellation) so we’ll have to see what Patrick has already planned.