Sunday, September 6, 2009
Namaste beautiful people
We have arrived in India safely and boy has it been three days packed full of adventure. We arrived in Delhi under a stormy sky at 9:30pm (2am Korea time) and quickly found ourselves a prepaid taxi to the take us to our hosts house in the suburb of Gurgaon. Our hosts name was Shailja and she was a 29 yr old stay at home mom with a four yr old and a husband who works for google. It was an interesting perspective on India. There apt was in a beautiful condo building with four bedrooms each with an attached bath. They had a three servants, a live in maid who had her own apt just outside the main apt, a cook and a cleaner. It was a strange reality but they were nice to the help, though they did not quite feel like family. We however were treated like family. Perhaps it was a way to curb the mundane reality of a house wife, but Shailja stayed up late chatting with us and fed us all sorts of amazing food.
Delhi itself was crazy. A city of around 13 million filled with so much contradictions. Everywhere there are beautiful new glass buildings surrounded by crumbling walls and pot-holed streets. The extremely rich in their mercedes and silk suits roam the streets with the extremely poor, children with kwaskior swollen bellies and old women with clothing so thread- bare their breasts hang out. It is a hard thing to see, esp witnessing and hearing the perspectives of the rich who just claim there is nothing to be done. Of course, the main thing that one notices, esp after being on little Jeju is the smells, noise and colours. Everywhere the scent of urine, spices, dirty, sweat, cows and cheap cologne mingle in the air. Mixed with the noise created by people yelling and horns honking it is a complete and total sensory overload. We spent our first day in town shopping in Khan market and Connaught Place and wow was it heaven to me. The goods are amazing, so colourful, so cheap. I am amazed i didn't spend all my money. I did get pulled in by some beautiful Gujarati women who were sitting down a side street in their beautiful sarees selling the most exquisite clothing. I bought an unreal dress with matching pants and scarf which i can not even express the beauty of with words, but as Caitriona said i should be married in it. I also bought to pant suits that are both wonderful. I have decided to get rid of all my clothes i brought with me and just wear Indian clothing, not that i didn't already know that ;)
Yesterday, we spent the morning with our hosts playing with their little girl Anhiti and eating spanish omelettes and dosas. Finally it came time to catch our cab to the train station. I must admit an feeling of dread and adventure filled me with this prospect after reading all the horrible stories written by travellers visiting this place. But it was really easy as pie. Of course it was busy but we did not feel in danger and we never got harrassed or groped by anyone. I think this definitely had to do with the fact that we wore traditional clothing. It is amazing how different it feels being stared at in western clothes and in Indian clothes. The train ride was spent trying to find a place to stay (thank god for my cell). The woman who was supposed to take us in bailed last minute and fortunately we were rescued by Amit one of the primary members of CS Chandigarh. Despite the fact that he was also in Delhi he spent a few hours calling around to other CSers and found us a place to stay.
Now getting of the train and waiting for some complete stranger is possibly insane. It turned out to be quite an adventure. As we waited for Gurmehar a family seated near us started eyeing and smiling at us and before we knew it the whole family was surrounding us chattering in Punjabi and a few words of english. It was so sweet as they asked us to sit and join them. But out of the back of the crowd walks to to young Punjabi men in western clothes, one with long hair and another with a sikh tattoo. They introduced themselves and we followed them out of the station to a brand new white SUV. We have truly had quite the royal treatment so far in India. The guys sped through the streets as only wealthy young men in fancy cars can do and took us to a hookah bar that one of them own. There they fed us and gave us tea and we smoked amazing shisha and chatted about life in India for the elite. Their perspectives about the poor and the state of India. It was an interesting experience. They were very spoiled and lived a rather traditional life. They would both be in arranged marriages and life with their families for ever. Our host had gone to the top boys boarding school in India and studied commerce while the other was a lawyer. In the end we did not have to pay for a thing and they took us to a hotel that their parents owned and we got to stay in for free. Of course they were disappointed that we would not go out drinking with them and perhaps take them to bed at the end of the night, but it was an interesting experience.
Today we awoke and left straight away and found ourselves our own hotel and ate an amazing breakfast of chai, samosas and dal and gulab jaman. Now we are headed of to the Nek Chand fantasy rock garden and shuksa lake. Tommorow we will be off to Amritsar to stay with a Punjabi family and visit the golden temple and see the guard change at the pakistan border. Then off to Haridwar and rishikesh for some yoga and meditation at an ashram.