Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
After being crammed like Indian sardines into a metro car in the late morning, I was delighted to learn about a unique Indian metro novelty--the ladies car. The first one or two cars of every Delhi metro train are devoted to the ladies and offer a rarified opportunity to not get up close and personal with a whole bunch of random male strangers. And, there is usually seating and lots of room in the ladies car--which makes it doubly great. For the next few journeys, Michael and I rode separately, with me living large in the ladies car.
Our guide book tells us that, due to the relative newness of the Metro system, Delhians are still learning about proper subway etiquette. The stuff you normally take for granted on a subway, such as being able to get out of the train at your stop without having to push your way out of the crowd with all the brute force you can muster, you can't really rely on here. They also haven't quite mastered the idea that you let people out of the train before pushing your way inside. It's a process. And, it sure beats sitting helplessly in a taxi or auto rickshaw on surface streets stuck in traffic going nowhere fast.
> So after that adventure (yes, you really do need that international plan so can call Amex from the middle of a traffic jam just after Friday prayers get out at India's largest mosque, which must be very confusing for the person on the other end of the phone), it was time to get our Islam on.
> And I do mean on. Though Karen had already covered her head, she was robed in a full-length rental garment. Oddly, that was the only thing we weren't charged for. Entry? Rs 400. Guide (who asked with some irony if we were Muslim)? Rs 75. Shoe minder? Rs 20. Cavorting with 20,000 spiritual pilgrims? Priceless.
> Though all these shrines and temples and gods and prophets with unpronounceable names and questionable backstories do make me so glad to have shuffled off the yolk of religion.
Anyway, just inside the bounds of New Delhi sits the Red Fort, though that's just the outside, carved from rust colored sandstone. Inside it's all intricately carved marble and gardens and a complex irrigation system connecting dozens of pools and fountains. That this lone picture fails to do it justice is the definition of understatement. So y'all will have to come back in late January for the full report.
After nearly two hours we were back on the street hunting for a ride to Jama Masjid, or Friday Mosque. Rs 50 (about a buck). Transportation is cheap.
It was at that moment, careening down the street, that Karen realized her purse was gone. Credit and debit cards, driver's license, Rs 4000. Fortunately they didn't get her phone, and I'm holding on to her passport, but she'd been warned: cute little shoulder bags with no zipper and a single snap are not what one goes wandering about India with. Not to make it an I-told-you-so moment (mainly because she'd been directed otherwise by everything from travel guides to the nice lady at the hotel), but word: you're not in Palo Alto any more.
Anyway, the cards have been cancelled and she can't lose her wallet again. I thought it might be a bit of poetic justice to make her wear an extra-ugly money belt for the rest of the trip, but she's got nothing to put in it. Perhaps best of all, she's promised to never again make fun of my hunting vest, in which I store everything in separate, tightly velcroed pockets. Sure, I may resemble John Goodman from The Big Lebowski, but I'm not getting picked.
When we got back to the hotel, Karen mentioned the incident to our Maitre'd. His response spoke volumes: "This kind of thing makes all Indians sad."
Thursday, December 29, 2011
The pollution makes your boogers black.
A favorite local pastime is sleeping on the grass at the monuments (homeless? Not sure--there is an entry fee).
As noted, eat your yogurt. Lots of healthy bacteria.
Goddamn but the Friday sunrise call to prayer is loud.
Puma and Adidas seem to be having a turf war. McD's offers a McSpicy Paneer sandwich.
You can gauge a good hotel by the number of options they provide for personal hygiene.
Anyway, Dad was getting hungry and wanted to know what was for dinner.
Longtime readers will recall the weirdness that is Xmas in Saigon, and this is no different, though perhaps more understated: a simple tree, gifts, an offering of bright orange flowers, and wads of cotton gauze pulled amongst the foliage. Our hotel had a similar display until this morning. Which should serve as a reminder to all of you: take it down before it becomes a fire hazard.
This public service announcement brought to you by K&M Worldwide.
The first among the large, old, heavy things we came to see.
Outside stood traditional structures gathered from all over India and the Nicobar islands. Good stuff, well curated, and punctuated with live music
And vendors. Never going to get away from them, but they had good stuff. Which Karen quickly found.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
My first observation or, rather, a lack thereof, came during final approach: the ground was not visible, at least until we were a mere 30 feet above it. The smog here is so thick that even at street level it is difficult to see more than a block or two.
Observation 2: Usually in places like this the road from the airport starts with condo ads, morphs into slum, and gradually builds to city. Not so here. The road to town is lined with billboards that, without exception, advertise educational programs. Law? Check. Medicine? Check. Engineering? Triple check. Acting and dancing lessons for that eight year old in your life who's gonna make it big in Bollywood? Got that, too.
Third, the Indians are still the most polite, welcoming people you'll ever meet.
Four, the traffic is still the most bizarre on the planet. Cars, trucks, buses, autorickshaws, tractors, motorcycles (women ride side saddle), work animals, lone animals, and scores of people all moving perpendicular to the flow. Breathtaking.
Anyway, Karen found a great hotel, as usual, so let the sightseeing begin. Namasté.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
And so begins the first leg--San Jose to Sacramento. Why Sacto? Grandma, ham, Dad, ham, Sharon, biscuits, Dede, ham. Not much ham where we're going. Plus we get cheaper tickets to LAX, which meant cheaper tickets to Delhi.
Karen's guarding the luggage at Diridon, if you're wondering.
Friday, December 2, 2011
First, boil the thing for two minutes. This separates the skin from the meat. Then, season the inside with salt and five spice before stuffing it with garlic, chili and bean paste. Next, lacquer it with a honey-salt dilution and string it up to dry for at least six hours. Roast at 400.
This invention is Gus, me, the duck, a tripod, a coat hanger and a drip pan. Don't forget the drip pan.