Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adventures in India: Trekking to the Sky

I believe I was experiencing shock at the Amsterdam airport the more I think about it. That usually only happens after an accident or a near-accident. Who knows? I have been in very good health while in Delhi (keep my fingers crossed). The water purification system that I am using seems to be working well. I also drink a lot of Cokes each day.

Today was considerably hotter and muggier than yesterday. It is probably 110F with 100% humidity. The sun is even stronger than the Phoenix sun. I was going to go to Old Delhi today to look at a huge Moghul fort and the spice market, but as I started out at 7:30 in the morning the heat was already unbearable. So I headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day (until 2:00) talking to other travelers. Three other gringos and I shot the breeze for hours. It is really a highlight of these trips. An American from Georgia named Chris was a born storyteller; he could just talk and talk (as could all Americans that I met in India). He has been here a month and did more or less what I am planning to do. However, he has the worst luck (or is it karma?) while travelling. Everything imaginable happened to him on his trip. Disaster upon disaster befell this poor guy. He had the best (and most humorous) stories of anyone I have ever met. Just so you don't think that I am in for trouble, I have not met anyone else who is having any problems, and he has had bad things happen to him all over the world. The only good thing that happened to him was that he left his camera on a city bus, and an Indian gentleman returned it to him at his hotel (not everyone is out to get you).

This afternoon I helped three women from Spain buy train tickets to Jaipur. I had to take them to the train station and show them where to go and what to do. They were amazingly clueless. They are trying to get to Katmandu, but I am amazed that they even found a hotel. I'm not going to start a guide business, but I happened to do the same thing yesterday (buying a ticket), and Ben from England showed me where the train station was, and what to do. Just passing along the favor.

I went out to eat yesterday night with Ben and an older Italian named Fabian. He travels to India several times a year to buy books to resell in Venice. He always stays at the hotel that I am at. He says it is the best in Delhi. Sometimes you just get lucky. The food was very tasty. I had some lentils with curry and bread baked in a wood fired oven called a tandoor. Amazing! They also serve a 'tandoori' chicken that looked (and smelled) better than any barbecue I have ever seen back home. Fabian always gets it. I'll have to try it.

Instead of a pre-packaged mint after dinner they serve crushed rock sugar with anise seeds. I was hesitant, but tried it. It tastes like licorice candy, but with a much more powerful flavor. Very enjoyable. We stayed at the restaurant for 2+ hours talking. So far, talking to other travelers is pretty much all I've been doing. That and walking around the city. Delhi is not a good place for meeting ordinary working Indians, although I have met several people who came up to me on the streets that just wanted to talk and not to sell anything. Tonight I head for the Himalayas and some cool temps.

PS. It costs about 55 cents and hour for Internet use here. Pretty damned cheap!

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