India 2001 Travel Diary, Part 5

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© 2001 Giles Orr

Wednesday 16 May 2001, 0800.

Being here has begun to seem almost normal. Fortunately, saying that reminded me of one of the abnormal things - I forgot to take my doxycycline with breakfast.

Speaking of which ... precautions. Doxycycline, a broad-spectrum anti-biotic and anti-malarial pill, daily. 30 SPF sunscreen with bug repellant. The clothes I've talked about. Don't ever drink the water. Don't eat salads, and only some fruits are okay. Be alert for thieves, especially around big tourist attractions (which are heavily populated by beggars - don't make eye contact or speak to them). Money belt.

Speaking of beggars ... Jim Bogert is either too polite or too compassionate for his own good: when he and Marc and I walked from the hotel to Amex yesterday, a young girl (about 6 or 7?) in a burgundy dress latched on to him. She pestered Marc and I a little, but we ignored her. Jim couldn't, and kept talking to her. He tried to tell her to go away, but she wouldn't. She waited outside the Amex place for us, fifteen or twenty minutes. Then she waited fifteen or twenty minutes outside the antique/jewelry shop we visited. She left us somewhere between there and Cottage Industries. I don't think Jim ever gave her anything.

At the Tank, a couple of boys (I guessed around 14) wanted to talk to me, and I ignored them at first because there are so many beggars at the better known monuments. But all they wanted was to talk, to ask where I was from. It made me feel very rude to have ignored them at first. Just at the monuments, I guess.

India - well, the small part of Mumbai I've seen - hasn't smelled nearly as bad as I expected. Another negative expectation happily slain.

1340

In "class." She's talking about the Prince of Wales Museum, but since we have to leave the Museum before 1530, I don't know why we're in lecture rather than at the Museum.

The morning lectures were on "Islamic Architecture" (pretty good) and "Colonial Architecture." The latter was excellent - he did an astonishing job of placing the architecture in context of the period politics, and the end result was fascinating. It drew a lot of questions. I commented that the neo-classical style of the University of Bombay Library was astonishingly similar to University College at the University of Toronto.

Lunch was lamb (or veg. - I had lamb) sandwich, which wasn't great, but the falafel sandwitch was excellent. We had mango juice, which I was surprised I liked, and fresh mango, which I didn't like.

Colaba Market.

My mind goes back to the Colaba Market, Monday, outside the Silver store. I thought a lot about Chinatown in Toronto, with all the people selling vegetables off of boxes. But in Toronto, the people probably don't sleep on the street where their boxes are during the day ...

1632

In the next lecture. Vijaya Mehta talking about Indian Theater. She's very good.

Colaba Market ... Other differences from Chinatown (there are more differences than similarities). Of course, the people are 99% (or more) Indian. The shops along the street are very small, often 10 feet wide and only a few feet deep with just roll-up doors. The silver shop was a real walk-in shop, although very tiny - eight of us packed it, we could hardly move. Back outside, you look up and find incredibly shabby, battered buildings rising above you. As I said, laundry is omni-present. Windows are all open, air conditioning is extremely uncommon. The buildings that haven't turned stained grey-black with age are often painted pink-orange. Pipes are often on the outside of the building, and occasionally the electrical wiring.

I hope my photos come out.

The Hyundai Santro.

Cars have been interesting. "Maruti Suzuki" has sold about half the cars on the road, if you don't count the cabs. The cabs, the vast majority of them, are small black ancient diesel numbers with yellow tops and no air conditioning. Each has some small personal touch, a weird hood ornament, small spikes on the center of the front hub caps, multi-coloured paint on the front grille ...

The commonest Maruti Suzuki is the "Zen." Like the vast majority of Indian cars, they are miniscule econoboxes. The would hold four people, but nothing else. The Hyundai Santro is common - same size. You see the occasional Honda "City," similar to the Civic. There are a few small Fiats, and occasional Ford Escorts and a few other things. A lot of un-airconditioned buses, a few double-deckers. Many scooters (helmets are extremely rare) and motorcycles. I've seen a good number of "Hero Hondas," a single cylinder motorcycle.

Car turn signals are located in the center of the steering wheel - it's called the horn. People honk constantly. Driving with lights off at night is fairly common, perhaps to protect the batteries. Maybe that's only the older cars/cabs.

The Prince of Wales Museum. More photos here.

We spent the earlier part of the afternoon at the Prince of Wales Museum. It wasn't air-conditioned. A lot of open doors and balconeys, which helped, but I got very sweaty. It's an interesting collection: their lack of money (and technology) shows in the low quality of the educational displays, but they have many fascinating items. As "Lonely Planet" mentioned, their collection of European paintings is pretty poor. The building exterior and garden is awesome, but I'm frustrated by my camera that only goes as wide-angle as 40 mm.

2100

Just exited Delhi Darbar, a Mughlai restaurant. We got there around 1815, but weren't served until around 1945. It was a fairly good wait, across from Julia and Cindy, beside Jim Engstrom. The food was very good. Small pieces of Chicken Tikka, Malai Chicken, curried (?) peas, several flat breads, and a basmati rice with meat. Bus back.

I just spent a few minutes in Carol and Julia's room, first to see the view, and then discussing the possibility of doing a web cumulation of people's journals from the trip.

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