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King Rat
Private Life

Definitely getting more into the swing of things now.

Yesterday was a trip to Samode, a small village of about 5,000 people (according to the guide). The only real thing keeping the village going is that the local palace has been converted into a hotel, and that is feeding the economy. It's in a rocky place between 3 hills, so there's no agriculture unless you drive a bit out of the town. Hence, the hotel being the driving force of the economy. The palace wasn't really all that nice, but you gotta do something with your time so that's what the travel agency had me doing. First slow place I've been in India so far.

Today I slept in and went to the bazaar in the old city. Wandered around and bought a few souvenirs, and probably paid too much for them cause I didn't bargain especially hard. At the prices I was buying things at though, I wasn't too worried if I spent an extra $5 or not. The driver seemed a bit worried to let me wander around on my own, but I didn't have any problems.

The one souvenir that really intrigued me I didn't buy. It intrigued me because it wasn't meant to be a souvenir. One of the shops had men sitting outside on the sidewalk banging hubcap sized pieces of metal into wok-like pots. If I had a way to get one of them into my suitcase, I would have bought one. That particular shop was definitely geared toward locals. Those pots were all they sold.

I wanted to see a Bollywood movie at the theater. The guide recommended the Raj Mandir as the theater to go to. But when I got there for the 2:45 show at around 2:30, it was already complete sold out (as was the 6:15 show). Alas, I had already told the drive to come back in 3 hours. I could have grabbed an auto-rickshaw to get back to the hotel, but I don't have the driver's cell to call him to tell him (and I wouldn't have the foggiest idea how to dial it either, the Indian phone system is weird). I wandered around the corner to a place I had seen that advertised Internet access. Their one working computer was occupied though.

Walking back to the theater, I saw a small strip mall across the street, and it had a Barista in it. Every place that is even slightly upscale has a security guard posted outside. Even McDonalds (mmm lamburgers). The building was mostly empty inside. But I did pick up a book and headed to the coffee shop. It's a Starbucks style coffee shop. For those of you who are coffee addicts, a latté costs Rs. 38 at Barista. That translates into 89 cents. Including tax. So I had a smoothie and then a hot chocolate and read for a few hours until the movie let out and my driver returned. It's significant because this is the first time I stayed anywhere for more than a couple minutes that had exclusively upscale Indians as clientele (the hotels have been primarily French and German tourists). Things I saw there that I really haven't seen: twenty-something Indian women who were unmarried, Indian men with long hair, non-Indian locals.

Oh, and to tantalize everyone, I didn't mention in the last entry that I was invited to an India wedding while at Agra. Or, more properly, a wedding reception. So far that has been the most interesting experience on the trip, attending an Indian wedding reception. But… since I have several pages written down in the paper journal, y'all'll have to wait until that gets transcribed when I return. Definitely been keeping that thing up better than I did on the New Zealand trip. (Speaking of which, anyone wanna make a few bucks typing that up for me?)

Tomorrow, I head for Jodhpur. I am halfway through the trip today. (And keep the comments and email coming, please.)

12 comments or Leave a comment
From: psychik Date: November 18th, 2004 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good Morning and Namaste!
I'm glad to hear things are working better for you- from everyone I've spoken to who's travelled to India, it is much easier to cope in the smaller cities. I've been planning a trip to Dehli and north India in my head, hoping to visit some people I know living there.

Half-way through your journey already? It seems like you just left-

I'm very curious about how your hotels have been- how they compare to American hotels- and the places you've stayed at. You say they are mostly tourists hotels?

Sorry you missed your movie. Once you get back to Seattle, if you like you are welcome to borrow from my collection. I have about twenty, and I picked up five more in Vancouver B.C. on my "little India" run last week. Do you remember the title?

Thanks for thinking of me, and we'll visit when you return and get settled again.
gkr From: gkr Date: November 19th, 2004 10:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I've seen a few Bollywood movies via DVD. I really wanted to see one in a theatre to get the whole experience.

So far, the hotels have been upscale international hotels. At least until Jodhpur. The room I have here has all the amenities, but it's an Indian oriented hotel. I have 4 nights here, so I hope it works out decently (i.e., enough hot water to take a decent shower, etc.). The next two hotels are Heritage Hotels meaning that they are converted from old palaces.
evillinn From: evillinn Date: November 18th, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude!!! I'd *love* to transcribe your journal, and you don't have to pay me a dime. (payment would seem a bit silly when I still owe you money ;)

I was actually thinking about offering to do that for you when you frist mentioned your paper journal, but I didn't know if that was a weird thing to offer.
gkr From: gkr Date: November 19th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
You worry about something being weird? Not something you really need to worry about with me.
scourgeotheseas From: scourgeotheseas Date: November 18th, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of the most fun I've had traveling are the days I've had nothing planned and ended up going to the movies or local shops. My friend and I saw an IMAX film on the Serengeti while in Germany, and Kate and I spent an afternoon in Paris doing nothing but going from cafe to cafe drinking hot chocolate.

I'm glad things are getting more fun, and CANNOT wait to hear about the wedding reception...weirdness!
gkr From: gkr Date: November 19th, 2004 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
That's part of the reason I had them make sure I have unplanned days in my schedule. If nothing else, I figured I may need the slack time to get over a case of diarhea.
scourgeotheseas From: scourgeotheseas Date: November 19th, 2004 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
TMI, yo. A movie sounds like more fun...
From: node Date: November 18th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, what's your connectivity like? Do you post these missives from an internet cafe, or from the hotel?
gkr From: gkr Date: November 19th, 2004 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Usually from hotels via ISDN lines, though the note from Delhi was from an Internet cafe with pretty spiffy speeds. The hotel in Jodhpur has dialup access. I saw a couple of places advertising cable access, so I may venture over to one of those while I am here. Using Windows 98 on a 15 inch monitor with dial-up speed is workable, but I can find better.
faerieburst From: faerieburst Date: November 18th, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I'll bite....WHOSE wedding reception did you get invited to and how did it come about?

You might want to consider shipping something like the metal bowl home to yourself. The cost shouldn't be that *was* something that intrigued you...and given that it would take several weeks to get there, it would be like your own little happy surprise in the mail when it did show up. A nice touch of nostalgia for you. Plus, how freakin' cool would it be to have a bowl that you can say, "Yeah, this bowl I'm mixing pie dough up in, it was hand hammered, for me, while I watched, on the streets of Jaipur." I mean, come ON!

Went to have my "oral surgery consultation" today, which consisted of a conversation that went a bit, like this:

Oral Surgeon: So you still have your wisdom teeth?
Me: Yes.
O.S.: So you want to pull them all out at the same time?
Me: Yes.
O.S.: Ah, good, no sense in putting them off. Might as well get those suckers out and be done with it!
Me: That's the idea.
O.S.: Okay, here's what we do. We stick a child-size IV in your hand and then we pump you full of anti-anxiety drugs so your blood pressure drops and you don't freak out.
Me: Uh-huh.
O.S.: Then we pump you full of Demerol, so you don't feel a thing. When the anti-anxiety drugs and the Demerol mix, that will knock you right into a "twilight dream state" and you won't care 'bout nuthin' or nobody.
Me: Uh-huh.
O.S.: Then we pump you full of steroids, so you don't gush blood all over the places when we start slicing into your gums.
Me: Uh-huh.
O.S.: Then we rip those suckers right now, pack some self-degrading plugs in, lash in some self-degrading stitches and your done. 45 minutes tops.
Me: Uh-huh.
O.S.: Now, the lower part of your face is probably gonna look like you were in a boxing match and forgot to keep your guard up for about a week or so, but don't worry, the bruising and the swelling will pass. And if pain starts to radiate out from your teeth, shooting up toward your ears, you come on back in and we'll fix you up with some drugs that will knock you back on your behind.
Me: Thanks.
O.S.: Don't mention it, see you in 6 weeks.

My oral surgeon is very..........colloquial. I'm not sure yet if this entertains or frightens me.

And no, you cannot have pictures of my bruised and swollen face. Sicko.

gkr From: gkr Date: November 19th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I would prefer the pictures I already have anyway...

Most of what I've heard about the Indian post office is that it is really good, except for counter service. There it's the equivalent of the DMV. Perhaps in Udaipur (where I am staying at a nice hotel), I will see if the hotel will do the packing and shipping for me.
the1pony From: the1pony Date: November 19th, 2004 02:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm with faerieburst, buy a pot and ship it home to yourself. They sound really cool, and what a great souvenir it would be, whether that was what they were marketed for or not. :)
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