Electricity, Sim Cards & Gowns for the Ladies

Aside

j&d rickshaw chandni chowk

Headed down to the crowded Chandni Chowk market of Delhi today, where merchants pedal the same products as 350 years ago – the spice street still has all the spices,  ditto for jewelry, saris, shoes, etc. We bought raw cinnamon bark, which people chew for a snack here, various chicken, potato and veggie masala powders (masala means something akin to “mix”) and some ridiculously hot peppers, apparently good for running off unwanted neighbors at dinner time. 

You anticipate the crowds, the shanties, the signs of minimalistic living. But modern niceties are woven through the crowded ancient city, often in an impressively bewildering way. After passing through street upon street with wildly-strung wires Josh asked me “How do you think electrician’s fix this stuff?”

spices  electricity nightmare

sim card debacleOn our trip through the market we continued our (now 3-day) quest for the prepaid phone card. In India the purchase of a pre-paid sim card is quite involved as they try to crack down on terrorists communicating in the motherland.  As such, the application requires a photocopy of your passport, profile picture, visa if you’re foreign, and a 1 day wait period while the government approves your application. Once you qualify for the service, even international, is inspiringly cheap. Here’s to passing … hopefully soon …

One of our first sites was the Jama Masjid mosque, where women must don robes. A family wanted to take their pictures with me; Josh and I are guessing it’s because of my blond hair, but as neither of us speak a drop of Hindi, it’s just conjecture.  

j&d at muslim mosque kids at muslim mosque

There are fewer signs of modern globalization in this big city than in the few others I’ve visited, but next door to the McDonalds we spied a Baptist church, as well as a couple advertisements with white men in underwaear … really weird.   But this mix of culture in one confined area was the will of Sha Jahan who built this “Old Delhi” or Shajahanabad.  On this same street you can find within 2 kms the baptist church a jain temple, a sikh temple, the islamic mosque and a hindu temple.

IMG_0452   baptist church india

The street that used to be the center of town lined with fountains and beautiful markets is now something akin to a free for all…if you sit back and watch, you can imagine yourself in a theatre performance mashup of stomp, cirque du soleil and mario cart.  Hold your breath, look twice, watch your toes and leave the rules of the road behind as traffic flows more like water than traffic.

bazaar congestion

Many Things Hidden Inside You

Our hotel offers complimentary yoga at 7am, and since my body still thinks it is 9pm at 7am, I pitter-pattered my way down to see how it compares to the Vinyasa that is so popular in the States (or at least in Texas).

The master, Lana, was from Nepal, and I was apparently the only guest who wanted to do yoga at 7am, so it felt a little more like karate kid, with my personal master revealing to me positions I wasn’t sure I was capable of (he got my legs behind my head for the first time since Jr High) and muscles I didn’t know I had (lotus – yes, it takes muscle to configure your legs like this).

Lotus Position

“This is your first time doing?” he asked after my surprise at his ability to negotiate my legs into this position without pain. “There are many things hidden within you”.

We warmed up with Hatha yoga, “the foundation of all Yoga styles”, and progressed to what I think he said was Sivananda yoga, which “combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation.” I’m a yoga newbie, but couldn’t much tell the difference between either of these and Vinyasa.

We are off to tour New and Old Delhi.

Namaste

-j&d

Mack’s Ear Plugs, Pitaya & Car Horns

image

The first thing that caught our attention here was the symphony of car horns – drivers use these here not to signal annoyance or rage, but rather in place of turn signals; they beep as they weave in and out of lanes, so that driving signals are auditory as much as visual. They are cute little horns, though, so it’s more pleasant than, say, the cacophonous honking of thousands of Dodge Ram pickups.

After a surprisingly painless 28-hour journey from Houston to Delhi via London-Heathrow we were greeted with orange garlands, a traditional offering to welcome visitors or in honour to the Gods and Goddesses.

image (1)

Immigration and Customs took less time as foreigners arriving in India than as American citizens returning from a weekend in Mexico, another pleasant surprise, and by 5am we were blissfully asleep, me with my amazing Mack’s Earplugs, so I didn’t even know we could hear the horn symphony from our room until Josh told me this morning, as we breakfasted on delicious sweet pitaya – kind of like a white kiwi – and Idli with Sambar dip (rice cakes with what reminded Josh of beef stew).

image (2)

Still have a few remaining things to wrap up in the states (we forgot to cancel our gas, electricity and water .. doh!), so it’s off to purchase a pre-paid phone and then dip our toes into the sea of New Delhi.

फिर मिलेंगे (See you later in Hindi)

-j&d

Exodus

Off and away! Photos to be posted soon, along with great tales of foreign lands, in particular the riding of a camel (we have recently learned that it is not a camel if it has only one hump, so we will be seeking out the two-humped beast).
It has been a long journey finishing up at our jobs, packing up our beloved Castle , dropping Pig and Cassie off in Austin under the care of dharol’s kind parents, and many bittersweet goodbyes.
Looking forward to new horizons, from new Delhi and Istanbul and finally onto the Rockies!

-j&d