Sunday, November 22, 2009
Writing from Kochi in the south of India. I feel as though I may have sweated out a good proportion of my recently acquired body weight. I’m sorry for the details but I’ve never been so hot in my life, it’s almost resulted in another ‘kettle throwing incident.’ (Last week in Kolkatta I threw the base of a kettle because I got so frustrated. Megz and I have been laughing about the fact that it is a truly weak person who throws the base instead of the actual kettle.) So so hot but dressing ‘modestly’, i.e. completely covered, is still mandatory. Susan and Tess you will love this...as a safety measure i have invented a boyfriend. Being the only single member of the team has been a challenge and therefore my boyfriend is Shane (the most ridiculous name I could think of, and Shane Warne seems to be quite popular here.) It's actually been handy but Shane is starting to get far too well developed a person, I've started having genuine conversations with locals about his personality and his likes/dislikes.
Incidents of aggression and fake boyfriends aside, Kolkatta and Kochi have been fantastic. I always seem to rank cities on whether I can see myself living in them and whilst Rajahstan was jaw droppingly amazing I could never spend long there. Kolkatta, however, has enough greenery and an amazing combination of real abject poverty and areas that are very swanky. The combination is a little surreal but quite fascinating and I could certainly come back and spend some time here. We did also get to see Mother Teresa’s tomb despite it being closed (apparently we have the ability to charm Nun’s as well!) 12 years of Catholic education doesn’t leave a person that easily and I have to admit to this being a highlight (I feel like the time I got mocked for going home from Uni to watch the Pope’s funeral.)
Our train trip from Varanasi to Kolkatta was one of the most frightening but exhilarating experiences of an already intense trip so far. 12 hours on an upper bunk that reminded me of a gym mattress about 4 inches too short (Megz was fine, lucky bitch.) We shared a cabin with the cutest Indian grandparents but didn’t eat the whole way and I spent the night sleeping in a V shape. Megz is probably more conveniently sized for this country…
In other hilarious news Megz and I have officially hit the clubs and we FREAKING LOVE IT! (That’s right people, I got Megz out well past midnight.) The music is absolutely fabulous (with all of the connotations that word holds) and the boys are very good dancers. I love their lack of interest in Western culture here, Bollywood rules supreme and we danced all night to some pretty rad beats.
One week left, hoping to load some photo’s but not having much success. I have a million with the child population of India. At the risk of absolutely scaring people, India has made me so clucky! The children here are so beautiful and just have so much guts and pluck. Yesterday a little boy mistook me for his mother and aside from me wanting to launch into a child protection-esque lecture on stranger danger, it was the cutest thing ever. Megz is getting pretty freaked out but we’ve had a few ‘take my baby to Australia’ offers so maybe she’s scared I’ll follow through. I’ve also had “Isn’t she looooovely” by Stevie Wonder, (p.s. AAAAAAARGH) in my head for a week so maybe it’s connected.
Lots of love, missing everyone heaps…see you in less than a week!
Friday, November 13, 2009
In Varanasi at the moment, Erica will be proud and shocked to hear that Megz and I were so early for our flight that we got put on the earlier flight...but then still managed to get called over the PA system for a final boarding call.
I can't seem to get my head around Varanasi somehow, it reminds me of Pushkar in that it sells itself heavily on the Holy Ganges...I'm surprised we haven't come across snowglobes made from the Holy River water. But at the same time the reverence for the river here is almost eerie, perhaps it's because I've read so much about it and have visions of it being more laden with dead bodies than it is. McKrill you'll be happy to know (that sounds odd...) that I saw a cremation on the banks yesterday. It was a little unsettling initially...but rituals around death are so transparent and open here. Nothing like getting baggered for a ticket for a 'better view' of the cremation.
Megz and I have been categorising the types of people that seem to come to India. Tourists mainly seem to fit into the categories of,
- Older hippie (the dirtiest kind of traveller...pleeease don't let me turn into this.)
- All American Express Tour Bus (that stupidly block the narrow streets here.)
- Your younger 'perfect French tourist' who is walking around looking perfect while the rest of us sweat, fall over and are covered in what we hope is dirt.
We seem to be an anomally here, not many 'average young people.' I kind of like it though, some of these hippie types present as being quite obnoxious. E.g. a bald headed (and without the head shape to support it) hippie american asked a roughly 9 year old Indian boy who sold us stamps for a pittance on the Ganges "why can't some people just talk to you without wanting to sell something?" real classy.On to Calcutta tomorrow on an overnight train. Couldn't be more nervous!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
today we finished our tour of rajahstan, it's been absolutely beautiful and amazing. megz is sick and cranky cause I won't let her look at the picture of her engagement ring (it's for her own good, she doesn't actually want to but she's caving to curiosity.) i am the keeper of secrets...
today Tinku (our driver) took us to his house before our tour finished. i feel a bit guilty about my snide comments, particularly as I saw a two year old drinking water from a puddle in the dirt outside his gate. His daughter is 23, same age as me and has a corner of the two bedroom apartment to herself and will have an arranged marriage when dad decides it's time. i suddenly don't feel so clever and smart having wrangled my way out of commisioned goods. I will tip him well tomorrow....I don't want to get murdered by my driver aka 'the White Tiger' style.
We have had some hilarious good times, highlights include CRASHING AN INDIAN WEDDING in Udapiur. The tailor we went to was going to one down the street so we tagged along, expecting to be the height of rudeness but willing to offend to tick 'indian wedding' off the list of things to do in life. To the contrary, we were quite possibly more popular than the bride and feature in a good number of their wedding photos. When the people here aren't trying to sell you something they seem amazingly generous, never in Australia would you be chatting to the brother of the father of the bride at a wedding that you've crashed. It is a little disconcerting that my whiteness has everything to do with it. I feel like Edward Cullen, sparkling in the sunlight causing mass hysteria amongst school aged girls (it's the girls that seem more avid in touching us and taking our photos.)
highlights include the Taj Mahal (poor megz had to endure a huge 'kelly hissy fit' while we tried to get in) and the Golden Temple at Amritstar...also standing in a bar that Aishwarya Rai has been in. Actually, even learning how to pronounce Aishwarya (Ash-warrior...Kamal the tailor insists she is a reincarnation of the sun.)
from here we head to to Varanasi. will be sure not to place any body part in the river, I've had all your warnings.
having fun, staying safe!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
things i am not good at -
- camel riding. apparently crying is an extreme response (even if your camel driver is a bully) and my limbs are absolutely on fire.
- motorcycle and cow dodging. a cow bucked me yesterday because i encroached on it's personal space (something that I didn't realise was possible in this country.)
- dealing with the stingiest, oiliest driver in all of india. sometimes i actually have to sit in the back of the car mouthing curses at him to vent my anger. i do not want to marry your son, i do not want to steal items from the hotel for you.
- being unwell in india. enough said.
things I am awesome at.
- being white. our photo's are circling the india mobile network due to people taking our snaps...despite the fact that i look god awful all of the time.
- crying and playing (query playing) stupid to get out of trouble.
- getting bargain deals.
all is going well despite my frazzled tone. it's a lot to take in and i'll be glad when the driving tour of Raj is over so we can wave goodbye to Tinku, the driver from hell. having lots of fun, NO FIGHTS between megz and I and I have a fairly good idea of where my passport is at all times. Shaweeet!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
this internet cafe in Amritstar took us about 45 minutes to find...i like to think through no fault of my own. (45 minutes doesn't include the fact that we've been looking for one for about 3 days.)
this country is absolutely insane. i've seen nothing like it and if i can't summon the courage to come back, i probably never will again. the people here function in extremes, out of necessity of course. i've never felt so baggered, harassased or flattered in my life. my need for personal space has just disappeared.
our coping strategy has been to retreat to drink beer any time it becomes too much, which usually occurs at approx 3PM each day. these small hands groping up at me for food or money or christ knows what is getting to me more than i thought. and i thought it would.
we tried to get a rickshaw driver back to our hotel this afternoon. we had a man cart us on his rickshaw 10 minutes in the wrong direction, drove in circles with a tuk tuk driver and then finally got a driver who expertly drove through the streets, incidently without hitting anyone. i think i would absolutely choke in this country, I would be the first tuk tuk man driving in circles, lost as fuck with a big, panicky smile on my face. Unlike wild whitford city i don't think india offers tax breaks for companies to employ the mildly retarded.
food has been amazing, the stingy side of me is just is heaven...$2.50 for dinner?! so far no issues but Megz has been pretty good at veto-ing what I am eating. She is a strict lady, no butter chicken for me yet (it exists here though, whoot!)
lots of love, namaste.
Friday, October 23, 2009
day 0. planning not going exactly finished. i do have an amazing number of half completed lists, piles and forms that have been post-ited in colour code. now if only I had a packed bag...
see you in dirty, smelly india...(my excitement was probably not helped by my colleagues filling a whiteboard with things i should avoid...including breathing, and drawing pictures of various toilet situations.)