India email #3
Originally written 21/04/2004...
Just thought I'd write this one last email before I head back to good old Melbourne, especially seeing I'm coming back this Friday! Yay! I should be back in Melbourne on Saturday morning (the 24th). Definitely looking forward to it.
Anyway, this is just going to be a quick update on all the exciting stuff that’s been happening here, since way back when I wrote the last one, which has got to be about a month ago or so.
Once again, I have to stop and try and remember what I've been up to since the last one. Maybe I should keep notes or something… or not.
As of last update, I was heading back to Bangalore, for a few days, and then up to Pune. Spent about 2 and a half weeks there, in a 4 star hotel, which was pretty good actually. All in all, as a city, Pune doesn't really have much going for it. We didn't really get up to much there, other than getting overheated (both from the weather and the frustration levels <IMG alt=":)" class="emoticon" src="/images/emotions/emotion-1.gif" border=0>). One thing we did do was go and see a movie. Standard, plain, hollywood fare. It was quite strange- sitting in a theatre, watching the movie (a comedy - Duplex), people laughing at the movie - it felt like the most normal thing I'd done over here. I could easily have been sitting in a cinema in Melbourne. Well, except for the fact that the ticket cost about AUD$2, and the popcorn and drink wereabout $2 as well… Restored a bit of normalcy I think. Other than that, had quite a few dinners at subway - similar, but different to Aus. Why oh why, in a country where "meat" is mostly chicken, why does subway not have satay chicken? Its wrong, I tell you, wrong. Not happy about this. Best subway sub that exists, and they don’t serve it... <IMG alt=:( class="emoticon" src="/images/emotions/emotion-6.gif" border=0>
victims volunteers came over while we were in Pune - James and Steven. Lucky boys. Good thing was that James bought over some vegemite for me… That was gooooood…. <IMG alt=":)" class="emoticon" src="/images/emotions/emotion-1.gif" border=0>. James seems to be getting along alright, not letting anything get to him, but Steve, well… at last check, he was rollercoastering (sp?) between "its ok", and "arrrgggghhhh!!!"… hehehe…
While we were up there, Irma and I (and Kishore) went to Goa (my second time, Irma's first). Didn't stay in the 5 star hotel this time - instead, stayed in a pretty dodgy place, which was supposed to be right in the middle of the party scene in Goa. Only problem was, when I went to check out the local club, there wasn't even anything happening. Who knows. Getting my sleep was probably a better thing anyway. While we were there, we also had a go at the parasailing thing. One of the things I've been wanting to try for a long time, but never quite got around to it. All I can say is that its pretty much overrated - almost downright boring. First and last time for me. But, glad I did it. Next up, probably hang gliding…
Following weekend, Irma and I went on a pretty quick 4 day tour of Delhi (capital of India), Agra (Taj Mahal), and Jaipur (lots of palaces built by various Maharaja's). Fairly expensive, as travelling in India goes, but it included all the flights, and an air-conditioned taxi for 4 days, and a local guide at each place. Of it all, the place that I definitely enjoyed the most was the Taj Mahal. I'm not sure what it is about it, but its such a magnificent building, it just sits in a class of its own. And for what is effectively a very big tomb, well, it’s a nice one. The whole thing is symmetrical - well, the original bit was. The king who built it, built it for his wife, when she died (in childbirth, I think), and it has her tomb in dead centre (pun not intended). Then, the king/maharaja started to build a second Taj Mahal, this one entirely in black marble, just across the river, where he was going to be buried. Only thing was, his son wasn't too happy that his dad was spending all his inheritance, so he put him in jail. After he died, his son buried him next to his wife, stuffing up the symmetry of the place. All that was built of the second Taj Mahal was a bit of the foundation, and a watch tower. It’s a shame, cos I'm thinking it would have been awesome to have the two Taj Mahals sitting there, looking across the river at each other, brooding. I think the world missed out on another of the great wonders.
Other than the Taj Mahal, in Delhi, we visited the biggest mosque in India - which was pretty imposing, but not terribly exciting. Also saw the government buildings (woohoo), and got to see the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Not sure why the spot he was cremated was important, but it’s a bit of a shrine, and I spose he's a fairly important person when you consider India's past. Sort of inspired me to get a book, and read a bit about him.
In Jaipur, we got to go for an elephant ride, up to the Amber Fort. Now, that was definitely a touristy thing - a waste of time and money. Not that comfortable, and all you could see was foreign tourists… At least I can say that i've done it now. Other than that, saw a few palaces, and a really old observatory, built quite a long time ago, by one of the Maharajas. Apparently its got the largest sundial in the world. This guy was fixated on knowing the right time. He must have been OCD or something <IMG alt=":)" class="emoticon" src="/images/emotions/emotion-1.gif" border=0>. It also had all these instruments for using the sun to figure out what zodiac sign it was - I didn't actually realise that the zodiac was a big part of (came from?) Hinduism. Talking to some of the Indians here, and apparently it’s a big part of marriage here to - making sure that your star signs match and all. Odd.
Oh, also got to see some camel carts, taking stuff from the country farms to the city - that was kind of odd. Pretty cool though. It was also very hot - I think it got to 43 while we were in Jaipur - a lot hotter than I'd prefer. Another thing was it was strange going through the countryside - its not all that different to Australia. It is different of course, but there's lots the same. It sort of makes you realise that there aren't that many differences between different countries. I know this kind of obvious, but its not really something that you understand completely. (I think I'm rambling now…)
Last weekend, headed back down to Bangalore, on the Saturday morning, we met up with yet another "victim", Allison. She'd arrived the night before, and was sitting in her hotel room, feeling a bit apprehensive about heading out. So, we went and rescued her, and gave her the easy intro to life in India. So far, she's taking a little while to get into the swing of things, and get over the jet lag. She's also having an "interesting" time with the anti-malarial drugs. No purple elephants (yet), but definitely making her feel odd. In a way, its kind of amusing seeing someone else get acclimatised to this place. Watching someone see all the quirks of Indian life, the good and the bad, and see all these things for the first time. Funny seeing someone notice all the things that are now common place to me, with new eyes. Makes me think back to the first week I was here, when it was more than a bit daunting.
While I'm definitely looking forward to the flight home, I'm definitely glad I came. I think as time goes by, and I forget the things that were on the top of my (43 page long) annoyances list, and get back to 'normal life', it'll be better. Definitely learnt a lot out of it - about myself, about Australia, about India, about the world, about what I want in life. And, I've visited 9 cities in India, and pretty much had a long holiday - well, except for the work parts of it. I've also had all my laundry done for me, haven't had to cook a meal in 2 1/2 months - haven't had to make my bed in 2 1/2 months… Its gonna be strange getting back to real life...