As you wish (head bob)- Delhi and Jaipur, India
Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
80Trip End Dec 31, 2009
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We walked outside looking for our Indian friend (Sankalp) who was nowhere in sight and before we could think what to do next an Indian walked up to see if he could help. We were very leery as Janice and I have been here before and by the time every worst possible scenario flashed in our minds the Indian held out his cell phone and 'bobbed' his head when we asked how much to call our friend. The Indian man gave us a big smile, bobbed his head again and said it would cost nothing. To our amazement it didn't - no strings attached.
When everything was said and done it was 4 am by the time we got to sleep in the International Youth Hostel in Delhi. Although we were all cold we managed to sleep until 9:30 when we had to check out. As we had no plan we decided it was best to stay where we were but that turned out to be more difficult than necessary (as most things here do). As was explained to us, "everyone here is on a power trip" and it was not what was right, logical or what you know it was WHO YOU KNOW. Sankalp's father is a high ranking police official and after getting no were on his own Sankalp called his father who in turn sent 2 policemen to our hostel to provide a little 'insentive'.
We spent the first day getting toured and treated by Sankalp and his brother Abhas. As the hours wore on the level of noise and chaos began to erupt. It is very hard to describe here what we experienced in the 3 days in Delhi but let me try. "People in Delhi don't drive their cars, they drive their egos". It would take a lifetime of driving back home to have as many 'near misses' as we have in one hour of driving in Delhi. I quickly realized why cars don't have mirrors (one at the most) when swerving in and out of traffic and getting so close to people you could clean the wax out of their ears!! Horns are used here like we utilize oxygen - a means to life. Traffic lines and dividing lines at home were just that but no not here. Lines seem to be mistakenly placed on the road because no one pays any attention to them. Several times we passed elephants and camels - who has the right away? I think 'might has right' but am sure we will find out one way or another.
Sankalp helped me get an Airtel 'thing a ma jig' that allows us to have internet access anywhere in India anytime. We also borrowed a phone from a friend that we can purchase a SIM card for to use in India for 1-2 Rupees/minute ( 40 rupees to the Cdn dollar). Everyone has a cell phone - even the richshaws. Cell phones have taken networking to the next level. For example, we wanted to go to Pune (28 hour train from Delhi) so Sankalp put the word out to family to find us a place but then we decided to go to Jaipur (after meeting a woman at breakfast that invited us to her farm) so he called family there as we boarded the bus and while on the bus (and chatting with my old roommate from Vancouver) I got my first call on my cell phone telling me that someone would be at the bus station to pick us up. I then got another call from someone else telling me that he has been told by his uncle to take very good care of us and treat as though we were family.
For all you at home with access to an abundance of toilet paper (not to mention toilets) cherish it as you would gold. Very hard to find and like sandpaper, a tiny roll of it costs the same as a full course meal. Don`t worry, we have not given up eating and have used our great wealth to maintain a roll or two of `white gold`.
I (Janice) don't know if many of you have been to India before but it comes as quite a shock to the system.
In Delhi I took the kids to the zoo without Raymond and it was very unusual. It was Sunday and very crowded, it seemed like a billion people to us. After awhile we stopped looking at the animals and just people watched. There were only about 6 other white people at the zoo and we felt as though we were an attraction unto ourselves. Monique is especially popular. Especially here in Jaipur she gets touched, squeezed and talked to a lot. Lets hope all this attention doesn't go to her head.
With the recent attacks on Mumbai security is very high here. It's a bit scary at times as a simple thing like parking in a parking lot, going to the zoo or going to a movie is as thorough as airport security. At the zoo and the movie theatre we went through metal detectors and bag and body searches. Cars are checked with mirrors etc like entering at an embassy. The kids thought it quite funny when the woman searching me held up a tampon and said "what's this? Is this candy?" Obviously that answers the question "do Indian women use tampons?"
We are in Jaipur for the Makar Sankranti Festival (another recommendation) `` one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Makar Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus begins its ascendancy and entry into the Northern Hemisphere. It is celebrated here by flying kites from the roof tops. As we look out we see hundreds of kites in the air, trees and power lines. I have not verified this but I am told Hindus have and worship 680 million Gods and we in the west have trouble with One!!
Our family has settled into a calm state of constant change. One day we are going here then we meet someone and the next thing we know we are going there. Who knows where we will end up but BUT I am sure we will never forget our journey.
DID YOU KNOW...
· - The Indian film industry makes more films each year than the United States, France, Italy, and the People`s Republic of China.
· - Chess was invented in India
· - Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus are studies which originated in India.
· - The' place value system' and the 'decimal system' were developed in 100 BC in India.