sarah vs the world

Not a video game, not a comic, not a band, but an amazing adventure continues...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

3 weeks here and I have learned a lot

So I have been here just over 3 weeks now. It is still hot and dusty, but I have learned a number of things:

1. There are 545 million mobile phones actively in use in India. 2nd only to China.
2. Bargaining with the rickshaw drivers is required as they will instantly double the fee just because you are white.
3. Apparently the capacity of standing passengers on the metro is 327. I think we have got closer to 600 on several occasions.
4. Do not wave to any children who wave at you on the street. They will end up chasing you down for money until you leave the section they patrol. You know, like Hollywood Blvd in Pretty Woman.
5. The locals will stare at you no matter how you are dressed. Being white is enough. In fact, there are so many beauty products here promising to make you white. Ironic that all we want to do is get a bit tan in summer.
6. I have found a place that at Happy Hour (until 830pm daily) serves bottles of Kingfisher for 99IRP or approx $2.50AUD/$2.15US. I had their mojito the other day which was a whopping 199IRP! We have been going back there quite a bit.
7. Subway made me a sandwich with exactly what I wanted on it the other day. That was exciting.
8. Learning to cross the street is an art. If you wave your hand around like you are turning a dial, it seems to slow them down a bit. But watch out for the buses.
9. I climb over 100 stairs (each way mind you) each day just going from my house to the train station to work. Hopefully that will keep me fit.
10. Living in a place with no bacon is hard. I don't really eat that much, but I suppose it's like anything. Once you can't have it, you miss it. I watched a travel and living show this morning and they were eating pancakes with syrup!
11. The streets mostly look an earthquake hit here like last week. Dug up street corners, guys with chisels chipping away at columns, women with plywood boards on their heads carrying bricks down the street. I actually should be wearing my steel toes just for walking down the street.
I am sure I have learned other things, but I can't remember much now. We don't know much Hindi except things like "Doors will open on the right", "Please stand clear of the doors" and "mind the gap". Am hoping to learn a bit more soon.
I spent last weekend walking from Parliament House to India Gate and then onto Lodi Gardens. India Gate is a war memorial set out on lawns like the Mall in Washington DC. However, even though there is a giant pool like structure throughout the lawn, only one section has water in it. Although that could be a good thing considering how green it was.

India's Parliament House

Me at India Gate

It was a very hot walk down the mall, then on towards the gardens. Just when I couldn't handle the heat (after drinking litres of water and having an icy pole to cool down), the sky went all gray and dusty and within about 10 minutes it was raining. Pretty much exactly when we finally found a way into the gardens.
There are 2 separate tombs in Lodi Gardens: The Tombs of Mohammed Shah from 1444 and Sikander Lodi from 1517. In true British styling, they built the gardens in 1936. There were 2 villages of people living around the tombs at that time. They just pushed them out and built the gardens. They are lovely however. It really was like a getaway from Delhi. We found the Lodi Gardens restaurant and it happened to be Happy Hour so we sat there for quite some time.

Me inside one of the structures near Lodi's Tomb

Mosque at Lodi's Tomb

This weekend we decided to go the Indian Cultural Centre, but as it turns out there wasn't much culture there. So after a bit of discussion, we ended up at Humayun's Tomb. His tomb was built in 1562. He was an emperor. And believe it or not, just near Humayun's tomb was more tombs of other people: Isa Khan, Halima and Afsarwala (literally meaning "Officer's Tomb"). We have sufficiently covered tombs so we will have to find something else to see next weekend.

Afsarwala's Tomb

The Wall Around A's Tomb. Apparently there was a village full of people living behind this wall until the 19th Century!

Full shot of Humayun's Tomb

The Water feature at Humayun's Tomb - they used the nearby river and ran it through the entire site.

The top layer of the Tomb

The Sun just behind Humayun's Tomb

Beautiful Details

A near by Sikh Temple

We did manage to get in to the Oberoi Maidens where ESS is crashing for a bit of a catch up and a swim. This was literally the highlight of my time here so far. 45 degrees C and no clean water insight anywhere has been a serious struggle for me. But next weekend their challenge is to work out how to also organise a BBQ, so I imagine the last few hours of my day will be spent there anyway. The pool open from 730am - 7pm, so I will probably try to sneak across at least 1 or 2 mornings as week for a while as well. Need to stay fit somehow! The stairs alone can't do it.
One additional funny anecdote for you all. In order to gain access to the Organising Committee headquarters, like any normal OC we have worked for, you need to have an OC issued ID card (which in this case is a laminated photo of me with my name on it). I only received this ID on Friday the 18th June, on my 25th day of work. Everyday, like clockwork the security guard ladies ask me if I have my ID. I say no. They refer me to reception. I ignore reception and keep walking to the lifts and up to my office. This has become a comical thing now for myself and the lady security guard. Each morning we share our routine laugh at the failure of what should be a relatively normal process. But this Monday the 21st, it was a monumental occasion - I HAD AN ID! I was very excited to show them. Even the men security guards rejoiced. I think it made their week - finally this Organising Committee has managed to ORGANISE something, thought the security guards (and myself mind you!). I can't imagine what will happen with my actual accreditation. They only have 6 passport photos of me now.

A couple of funny signs to close the blog for the week:

Can't wait to go here

Wouldn't you hate to pay for left turns?

Keep me posted on what all of you are up to. The Monsoon will be upon me soon enough they say! Should make things even more interesting....


Blogger Sandy said...

Wonderful pictures- wonderful story. It sounds like you are getting your fill of travel and adventure. The worst part of travel for me is always in the "getting there" with planes, trains, and taxis....sounds like you have learned to just roll with the punches. I would have been too exhausted to move!
Thanks for keeping us viewing your window on the world. Best always!

8:37 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

hope you're eating alright, no dehli belly.
dont't forget yoga!

2:50 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

we need an update!

10:09 am  

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