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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20202406

 

 

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: http://www.designsponge.com/2010/09/mumbai-city-guide.html

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.

Well, I’m off to the Orient!

I haven’t mentioned this but in about three days I will be on a plane to India. This is very exciting, despite my lack of exclamation mark. The reason I am still being a little reserved is because of work. Having to make it through two days of work before I go is keeping me from getting to excited about anything but the week end.

Anyway, details: Patrick is already there, for work. I am going to be meeting him there on Friday, or possibly Thursday, I can’t remember what day it will be in India when I actually arrive but it will be Wednesday night when I leave. I’m traveling on Halloween night, which is fine with me I guess, for some reason I haven’t been into Halloween so much for awhile. Possibly since Patrick and I started dating, not sure why that is though since he is into dressing in costume too. I think I might like the romanticism more and it’s hard to get caught up in it when those around you are not.

Back to India! I’m going to meet him in Mumbai, where his company’s Indian HQ is and he’ll show me around Mumbai for a few days since he has been to that particular area of India a few times already. Then we are flying to the capitol, New Delhi. There’s a tourist circuit in that area called The Golden Triangle and it consists of three cities: New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. There are lots of historic sights and landmarks to see there, like the famous Taj Mahal, for example. There’s also something called The Red Fort and some government buildings that I do not know the names of.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about India and the history of the country. Actually, I know a bit more now that I’ve watched some docu-mini series about the history of India and how it has gone through a long line of invaders/rulers who have all contributed to the diverse culture that India has today. I also learned that at the southern tip of India, in Tamil Nadu there is a village where a man’s DNA has been liked to some of the first humans. This is because 1. his family has a history of marrying first cousins so they’ve kept the bloodline pretty pure and 2. they are pretty isolated in that area so it’s not hard to maintain that lineage.

The Lotus Temple by InsideSouthAfrica on Flickr

While we are there I hope to:

  1. eat amazing food and take pictures of it
  2. take pictures of US… on vacation! (I don’t have a lot of pictures of us)
  3. ride an elephant
  4. touch a monkey – or notice a wild one from far away and say “HEY! A MONKEY!” in excitement as the locals walk on, uninterested
  5. try to “blend in” as much as a non-Indian can
  6. buy some clothes
  7. buy some jewelry
  8. buy some spices (can I bring these home?)
  9. learn some words in Hindi
  10. visit a Hindu or Sikh temple

That was the year I knew the panic was over…

Listening to: Ellie Goulding

I’m finding myself missing my miserable college years because I’m slowly realizing that was when I felt the most free and most hopeful I had ever/have ever felt in my life.

Now, I’ll go ahead and explain that last statement. I spent two years in San Francisco going to college and being out on my own (read: away from overly protective parents). I thought “Hell yeah, I’m going to get wild and cray-zee!” However, at some point in those two years I went through one of those life changing events that leads to epiphanies and soul searching, that kind of shit. I (slowly and painfully) broke up with my first serious boyfriend. For reals break up, guys, instead of being “on a break” (which is only really a thing for those in denial) I ended up breaking ties for good at some point in those two years.

It was painful (as young, emo break ups usually are) but it was also a great time in my life for feeling so low that “up” was the only direction in which I could head. I was around one of the most supportive group of friends that one could ask for. All my new college friends were all so positive and supportive in an introspective and enlightening way which was what I needed. You know, as opposed to the “get over it by going out and partying your worries away” kind of way. I don’t know why I thought I would be a partier in college, I never was one of those people in high school or elementary school. Sad emo kid was my forté, I should have known that old habits are hard to break.

Also, I don’t know if you’re aware but being a full time college student means you are taking 15 hours worth of classes per week. Compare this to a 40 hour work week. That’s 25+ hours to mess around and do NOTHING. What that? Studying? Oh yeah, so let’s dedicate an additional 5-7 hours a week to “working”. (Can you just imagine what my GPA was? I really don’t remember but I do have a Bachelor’s Degree now so couldn’t have been that bad.)

Patrick Starfish’s To Do List

Anyway, I had a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts, because my friends were all working or studying. My thoughts led me to a lot of clichés like:”The world is your oyster” (So slurp it? Throw some lemon juice on it?) and “Nowhere to go but up.” I spent a lot of time wandering around San Francisco thinking deep thoughts about my life, what I did wrong, what could have been so right, etc. Looking back on it now, it was fun, it was a good time, and I think I’d rather be there than where I am now: working until 9:30 pm at a job that I don’t love. I wish I had that amount of time to think and be alone with my thoughts instead of thinking up to-do lists and reminders about things that need to get done but not having enough time to do them and eat/sleep/live.

Grandma

My last remaining grandparent passed away back in February. This was my grandma aka “mahmah”, my dad’s mom. I saw her pretty much every single day from the time I was born until I moved out of my parents house at age 21.

Some people aren’t close to their grandparents and some people are very good friends with their grandparents. I can’t really say that we fell into either category. My grandma didn’t speak English and I only speak a limited amount of Cantonese so it’s not like we had very meaningful conversations. She wasn’t like my mom and dad who would praise or punish me. She was just there, always, and ready to give. Mostly, she would give food.

Grandma didn’t make traditional chow mein or artfully steamed fish, well she did but that wasn’t what I liked about her cooking, she would make dishes like ground pork and shrimp omelets! Salty wontons in soup! “Spanish” rice with cut up hot dogs! Curry! Battered and fried stuffed eggplant!

Grandma's Hands

These are the familiar, possibly provincial, possibly just resourceful, dishes that I grew up eating and this is today my “comfort food”. Of course, nobody knows how to make this stuff in the family, nobody wanted to learn I guess. All the dishes were just so weird and so very “grandma” I’m sure no one ever though “Oh yes, this will be a good dish to share… with people.” No, it was just dinner, good old weird dinner dishes.

Sometimes I remember that she won’t be cooking for me anymore and that thought is enough to bring me to tears. It’s not that I only miss by grandmother for her cooking, it’s just that grandma and food go hand in hand and it very much the core of the grandma experience. I miss pretty much everything about her sometimes and it feels like this void that can never be filled again.

I'm glad I have this picture

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