Monday, June 9, 2008

Conclusive India posting

It's my last day here, I'm checked out of my hotel, and apart from a few errands, I'm just biding my time until I leave for the airport (late this evening).

So, in the meantime a few Best Ofs:

Best attraction (architecture and culture):
- Taj Mahal (especially at sunrise)
(Honorable mention: the Golden Temple in Amritsar_

Best attraction (nature):
- the walk to Bhojbasa and Gomukh
( mention: the Pachmari hike)

Best interaction with the locals:
- Surya in Jaipur

Most appalling moment (nature):
- the army of leeches, Coorg
(Honorable mention: puppies harassing mother dog, also Coorg)

Most appalling moment (human):
- the men in the van, Mysore
(Honorable mention: the insolent rickshaw kid in Hampi)

Most unfortunate sickness:
- E: "My only symptom of _____ is ______."
(Honorable mention: me in the Thar desert, pursued by sheep)

Best liberty taken under the guise of being in India:
- Ali baba pants
(Honorable mention: chai chai chaiya chai)

Stupidest idea:
- the treehouse in Chinnar
(Honorable mention: not wearing my money belt on the plane)

Coolest place we stayed:
- the lodge over the Nepali border with the big clay oven, the first night of our Darjeeling trek

Finest moment in communication across a language barrier:
- The rickshaw driver trying to teach me to skip stones in MAdikeri
(Honorable mention: the richskaw driver in Dehra Dun who, delighted with my broken hindi, took me to meet his wife)

Biggest regret:
- not making it to Varanasi

Most persistent catch phrase:
- "Only one way to find out..."
(Honorable mention: "Eh, what are you gonna do.")

Funniest sexual harassment moment:
- to E. in Jodhpur: "Hello, hey! You! You look like Madonna! Too beautiful!"

Most memorable moment of fear:
- having to provide the name of a husband or father on my police report, first day in Delhi

Most memorable moment of joy:
- watching the stars coming out over the That
(Honorable mention: walking in the mist, first morning in McLeod Ganj)

Best food:
- Gautam's birthday party
(Honorable mention: Hotel Pearl Palace, Jaipur)

Soundtrack to our trip:
- the "RACE" soundtrack

Western cultural artifact I will now always associate with this trip:
- anything by Michael Ondaatje (Anil's Ghost, Running in the Family, or Divisadero)

Most memorable thing said by a travelling-Westerner friend:
- "In 50 years, there will be no more places like this, and it's our luck that we can travel it now. I meet the local people here and say, 'It's the luck of birth.' And they say, 'No, it isn't.'" (man from UK, Pachmari)
(Honorable mention: "No one really cares about McGill." (CDN drug lawyer, Udaipur))

And now you know all my good stories.

Well, not all of them.

See you all soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This Post: Now with even less content than the last post!

It's too hot in Delhi to do anything but sit perfectly still finding things hilarious, which is what makes today the perfect day to discover Slowpoke Comics by Jen Sorensen (now permalinked in my sidebar, along with a few other ways to spend more time with your computer than you do with your friends).

It's day three of five for me in this stifling city, and I'm bored out of my mind. I've done some shopping, but as I mentioned, all those narrow, windless stalls aren't very inviting in this heat. Neither is the cramped and sun-blasted bazaar. I have planned a nice final day, though, which I'm saving for Monday - get checked out of my hotel in the morning, whatever last-minute buying I need to do in Pahar Ganj, then I'll spend the hot part of the afternoon in the National Museum of Modern Art, which I'm assuming is air-conditioned (this is, in fact, crucial to the plan), and then I'll drift up Janpath and eat dinner at Spice Route, which apparently is one of the finest restaurants in Asia (at which a full meal works out to about $20 CDN). After that, grab my bag and head for the airport. Beautiful.

So who wants to have a beer in a few days?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Conflicted Delhi posting

Well, I arrived in Delhi at 6.45 this morning, and by 1.30 pm I had my exit visa in my passport.

Touché, Indian bureaucracy, way to keep me guessing. Well done. Now what the hell am I going to do with the next four days?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Conclusive Dharamsala posting

Thanks to this town, I'm one of the few people in the world who's ever spent two full weeks organizing her days solely around the changing light.

Today I've stumbled on a quote from Jean Renoir in a commencement address by Samatha Power: "The foundation of all great civilizations is loitering." (Read the entire, phenomenal, thing here.) Well, I've put in enough of that to start my own nation, and frankly, I see the advantage.

See y'all in Delhi.

Insensitive but Hilarious Bonus:
Headline of the Day:

Cheney Apologizes for West Virginia Inbreeding Joke

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jesus H. Christ....

Did you all know you can download whole lectures, whole lecture serieses, and occasionally recordings of whole courses from universities like UC Berkeley on iTunes? Most of which are free?

Can you imagine how much free information there is here? I feel like I'm having a heart attack, or discovering the internet again for the first time. This is a really, truly, for-real, god-given miracle. I really might buy an apple laptop now, purely out of gratitude. Steve Jobs needs my money.

Looks like we know what I'll be doing for the rest of the summer!

Of course I didn't just come here to share my excitement about aspects of iTunes that most of you probably discovered 5 years ago. Mostly I came to share my excitement that I bought myself two more days in Dharamsala by swapping my train ticket to Delhi for a much less comfortable overnight bus ticket, meaning I'm still in sunny, temperate Himachal Pradesh and not in sticky, sticky Chandigarh. Meaning it's a good day.

But meaning also that I'm coming to the end of my relaxing shopping from Tibetans rather than Kashmiris (sigh... it's been so nice...) and that I'm already choosing where to eat my last Dharmsala lunch. This town's been good to me.

Alright, so I have nothing to say, and I really did just want to share my excitement about free iTunes lectures. Sue me.