Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 1 - Traveling & New Delhi!

It's currently 11:40pm on Saturday, March 12th

Hello Everyone!
I am currently in my beautiful hotel room in New Delhi, we just got here and we leave at 4:00am for a flight to Kathmandu! So, we decided to hook up to the internet and stay up all night.

I already have 8 pages in my journal so I am going to write it here and post pictures. We are required to write down everything we experience and think during the trip and luckily my plane ride was quite the experience.. for the 2/14 hours I was awake, woops!

-8:30pm, 03/11/2011
I am on the plane in my very little seat.. little is really an understatement. My next international flight I am giving myself a first class ticket, they live better up there than I do in Clemson. Definitely not fair. I am in the middle seat currently waiting for my two aisle-mates, I hope they are skinny.
They turn out to be a beautiful, mid-20's Indian woman and either her mom or grandmother. She is the epitome of what I think of when I think of a tribal, ancient Indian woman. I am not going to lie, I am very intimidated. I can tell she is having trouble getting around so I tell the young woman that I am willing to move to he window for her to sit next to the older woman, she agrees that would be best. We sit down and I realize that Americans are truly huge. I look like Hagrid next to this woman... yikes. Her wrist may be the size of Natalie's, maybe.
She turns to me and strikes up a conversation asking me where I am going and why. I explained our situation the best I could but it made me very nervous to pronounce the cities in front of her because I didn't want to butcher the names and offend her. She would then translate everything I said to Grandma who would respond, and then be translated again back to me. Grandma's words were, "be careful, it is obvious because of your looks that you are a tourist. and they will know, and they will pick on you." Hmmm, what a great first conversation!
Anyways, I can tell they have a very close relationship and I continue to observe them. I want to ask them questions but I am not sure what the proper coding for conversation in the Indian Culture is. I definitely do not want to be too forward and offend them when we are about to be together for 14 hours. For now, I continue to soak up this feeling that I am leaving the States for a huge adventure for three weeks. It's kind of cool to know that I don't know when I'll be in contact with anyone I am familiar with
or what I am going to experience in each passing day. (I will journal everyday in my written book and on my computer and send each entry when I can... internet will mostly be found in hotels in cities, not in the jungle lodges).
As I look around, I realize there are many more Americans on this flight than Indians. It makes me wonder why they're going to India, surely not all of them are hunting tigers like me? That cannot be a normal trip. I wonder why I was originally so drawn to this trip in the first place? I thought it was normal place to go when I heard about the trip.. you know, another vacation. My poor parents, sorry! I wonder what YOU were thinking when I called and told you I was going to India. Hmm, time for me to sleep, the plane is creeping out to the runway now...
-4 hours later...
I've talked to the young girl again, she told me a little bit of her story. She lives in America now with her husband, they got married one year ago (BIGGEST ROCK I'VE EVER SEEN). This is her first time back to India since her wedding. She is from Jaipur but her parents have been in Delhi for 22 years now. I wanted to ask what nationality her husband was and where he is now, but she got quiet. She translated more to her grandma and I asked her which language she spoke. She said that was Hindi (it was beautiful) and that most Indians speak Hindi and English, if they don't speak English then they still try their best haha. In India, she said, the language changes every 15 km. They have literally thousands of languages.
She then proceeded to teach me how to bargain shop, pay attention LoLo! She said they will be very flexible, even though they walk away from you at first, but they want to sell to Americans. She said to use this scale: "They offer something for 500 rupees, you say 50". Seems, good to me!
She said the food in India is WAY better than American. She said no matter what I eat or how much I like it, I will get sick just because it is so different. It's all very rich and all natural though, so I will feel cleansed when I leave. Her advice was to start with dry chickens and then go to curry. She then rested a little and grandma turned to me..
She wanted to practice some english so she asked me a few questions even though I had answered them before, she was pretty good at it but all she could really say was "Are you alone or are there more?" and "How long will be here?" She was so cute, I wanted to steal her.
She wanted to tell me about the weather so we translated through the younger one. They told me I am going at a good time because it is way too hot in the summer (105 degrees) and the winters are miserable. I ask how cold and they just laugh, apparently is doesn't even snow. They just say ht is better than cold.
We got our airplane dinner and I can tell they are not happy. She turns to me and says, there is an old indian saying "Leave with a full stomach and food will always find you, leave on empty and you will never find it!" She said they definitely left on empty because this food was unacceptable. She also said it is a myth that most Indians are vegetarian. She doesn't eat red meat by choice but that's because she finds it dirty and unclean. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. She warned me to stay away from plain, uncooked dairy, it is unclean and will make me sick too! She said if I really want it, buy it in a can... it's Nestle. I thought that was hilarious.
We had Rasmalai, which they told me was ricotta cheese backed in sweet milk and frozen. They said I would love or hate it.. I didn't feel etiher towards it.. it was just odd.
So we get through customs to the beautiful, brand new airport in New Delhi. My bag was obviously the last one to come up, wooo! I was very nervous. Then, we met up with Ashnu, our tour guide. He was so energetic and helpful. He gave us bright orange welcome necklaces made of flowers. They smell so fresh and good! We ride a bus to our hotel, which is beautiful. On the streets on the way to the hotel you see everything, rich hotels, camels, people in shacks, people in beds with no covers.. India is very diverse. Oh, and smelly. It's a mix between church incense and manure. I am already pretty used to it.

That's all for now, I don't know when I will have internet next but when I get it there will be journals from every day! I am so excited for tomorrow and cannot wait to see India in the day time. Here are pictures from the airport, streets, and hotel. I didn't post a lot cause it takes a while to upload!

LOVE YOU ALL!
Maria
wooo new delhi airport!

outside, first glimpse of india
my necklace, first rupee, and STAMPED passport.. jealous mom?
this is the name of our hotel
one of the lobbies! we have a bar, pool, and ball room!
our room for the first 4 hours haha!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like "Grandma" was trying to take advantage of you..."are you alone? Are there more of you?"

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