Summing Up India

I have to say that Indian airport security is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.ย  There were more check-points and pat downs than anything I’ve ever experienced! That aside the flight from Mumbai to Newark was relatively uneventful (minus the snarky flight attendants). The flight from Newark to Orlando was outstandingly pleasant.

I had some time (approximately 16 hours) to brain storm some of the things that I noticed while in India … so here is the list in no particular order of things that stood out.

1) The food is out of this world

2) Spoon = Knife

3) Experiencing the traffic is it’s own adventure – organized chaos is one way to describe the blending of terror and exhilaration of being on the road

4) There is no such thing as “fine for litter” … trash is just thrown on the streets and later burned (the smell is something to get used to)

5) You can bargain with just about anyone for anything

6) Flip-flops rule the footwear scene

7) “Just for Men” could make a killing in India – men currently use a henna based dye and end up being “carrot tops”

8 ) There is an entire sub-culture of head bobbling

9) Indian Weddings and Receptions Rock!

10) An amazing usage of color in all fabrics and everyday life – makes the Western color pallets dull in comparison

11) If you stay too long, you run the risk of being married off

12) Hand holding and PDA is frowned upon – however there are Kama Sutra books on every corner… ????

13) Indian-Chinese food is AMAZING

14) Prepare to be groped when: riding the trains, moving through crowds, and in the security check-points at historical sites

15) The stereotype of Americans: we drink all the time, smoke all the time, and the girls go wild …. “90210” really was not good for the American image in India

16) The entire country needs to be spell-checked – example: As seen on bumper sticker “I am Proud Indian, so is my Aria” – On train “Stand Clear Off Doors”

17) If you are a dog you can sleep anywhere you feel like (middle of the road, sidewalk, driveway…wherever)

18) American pop culture and dance has nothing on Bollywood

19) Even the poorest of women have some form of “bling” on their arms, ears, feet, nose, etc

20) The people are generally friendly and loving in nature

Edith Wharton said โ€œOne of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.โ€ This is true of my time in India. On my part I always get homesick, but I found that I was surrounded by so many good people that it was like being with family and that made all the difference in the adventure and experience. My experience was amazing and I will always remember India, but there is just “No Place Like Home” (yes, I just quoted The Wizard of Oz)

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The Epic Fail

Every trip has at least one “Epic Fail Moment” and ours was yesterday.

The Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/244, was on my to-see list and, not wanting to battle any weekend crowds, was chosen as the Monday to-do activity.

As we picked up our tickets to ride from the Gateway to India to the Caves there was a sign that read “Closed on Mondays”….BUT the man at the counter assured us that there was some stuff still open and we could still go.

The boat ride was 1 hour and it was nice to see some of the Navy vessels and a nice view of Bombay from the sea. Upon arrival to the island, walking a mile, hiking a mile up-hill, we found the following sign:

the Only thing that was available for viewing (after a good 500meter+ hike straight uphill) was ….

a very old cannon (the view was nice)

So sweat soaked, 2lbs lighter, muscles screaming, we trekked back to the boat and back to Bombay.

Lesson learned: Next time a sign says that a monument is closed – visit a museum and don’t listen to the little man behind the ticket counter.

All was not lost…here are some photos

 

Sing, Dance..Bollywood it Out

It would be a big no-no to skip over the ever popular “Bollywood” (the portion of the booming Indian film industry based in Mumbai) – the plots are typically pretty basic: boy meets girl, they fall in love, there is some tragedy, live ever after..etc. (Think the American-Bollywood film, The Guru)

What have I learned since being here that I didn’t know before? Many popular Western Pop Artists are singing in Hindi! Akon, Nelly Furtado, and, even, Will Smith have made some appearances … here is a current pop hit featuring Akon

Chammak Challo – this also features the ever beautiful and popular Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor

Templeton Girls 1 – India Train 0

We survived the train ride from Jaipur to Bombay – it was a pretty smooth ride. Despite hoping for a companion free journey we ended up with a total of 3 other travelers – 1 was an “auntie” only on the train for a couple hours, the other a local on the train for a couple hours, and the third a backpacking Brit who went the full trip to Mumbai.

The accommodations were fairly comfy and Alyssa and I survived on our hotel pastries and water. We were too chicken to eat the food on the train.

All in all a good experience, a great way to see the country side, but probably not something I would repeat unless it was on the Orient Express. Trains just aren’t my thing.

Amber Fort

Alyssa finally saw her elephants and was very excited. That aside we had a very knowledgeable tour guide who enlightened us on the rich history of the Amber Fort.

For those who are looking for more of a photo-tour see below

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