India 2001 Travel Diary, Part 6

next part | previous part | India trip
© 2001 Giles Orr

Thursday 17 May 2001, 1500

What a morning. I haven't had lunch yet, so it's still morning.

Breakfast (as always, at the hotel) green banana (it's probably a type that's ripe like that), hot milk and cereal, toast, fried eggs. Then bus to Jai Hind, where we had a lecture on "Performing Arts." With one exception, these have all been fascinating lectures: either Indian lecturers are on average much better than North American ones, or the people doing the selection deserve an award - probably the latter.

Haji Ali. More pictures of Haji Ali here.

Our tea break was a bit short, but I got my two cups of chai in. Then they loaded us on the bus, and shipped us off to Gandhi's house, which is now a museum. We didn't stay there long, moving on to a couple of temples and shrines (including Haji Ali) in the worst heat yet. They've all blended together in my mind. One was to Laxmi, but since I didn't go inside, I probably won't become wealthy. We ended up standing by the side of a major street, waiting for our bus which never arrived.

We all clumped under a tree for shade, sharing the space with an attractive and attractively dressed homeless woman and her two children. She had been sleeping, but sat quietly as we crowded around her. She didn't beg. Marc gave her some money, and I thought about it.

Eventually they bundled us in cabs, the black-with-yellow top un-air-conditioned kind. Janet was jammed in between Ruth and I, and Bettye sat in front, the better to witness our couple of near misses. In the shade of the cab with all the windows open, I cooled down some. The crazy driving was almost fun ("lanes? We don't need no stinking lanes!"). The bad thing (other than the heat) was breathing large quantities of exhaust - the cabs, which are probably 40% of the road traffic, belch black smoke. They don't exactly conform to American environmental standards.

I've had a short shower, I'm going to put on my soggy cotton pants and wander around a bit before our evening tea party at the Cricket Club.


Outside the Cricket Club, after tea, waiting for the bus - which will surely be late. No, Jennifer told the driver to be here at 1900, but Marc told us to be outside at 1840 ...

My walk today was educational. I walked about six blocks away from the hotel, into a more commercial area. A lot of small shops, a lot of people. The sidewalks are almost all torn up, apparently a permanent condition. Because it was afternoon, I tried to walk on the shaded side of the street. I quickly found out that's where the multitude of homeless set up shop. Between the broken sidewalk and the poor, I ended up walking on the street most of the time, like the locals.

Alone, you're more subject to the homeless, and people (I guess they'd be called "hawkers," but they don't get too active until they see foreigners) outside the stores were very persistent that I should enter. Many of them. Standing still and looking around draws children poking at the legs (hand to mouth, "I need food"), hawkers, and adults (some homeless, some just friendly). I looked in stalls, took photos of the streets, and bought some film. The film was very cheap, good (Kodak Pro 100), and in date. It's C-41 process, should be fine. I've been using my supply more than I expected - one roll a day but only because I've restrained myself, and three rolls today. Mine are 24s, the new ones are 36s. I came with 23 rolls of 200 ASA.

Waiters at the Cricket Club of India. More pictures from CCI here.

I got back at 1630, and gobbled a bit of the lunch that had finally been delivered. Quite good. Then the bus again, to the "Cricket Club of India." Apparently too small (despite its size) for much cricket these days, it's mostly just a very posh club. Turn of the century (?) wood, glass, marble, and red carpet. Young Indian men in uniform serving (non-alcoholic) drinks politely and quietly. There was some speech-making, as there were university and city officials. In this case, I think today's photos will say most of what needs to be said of that place.

When we got back to the hotel, Doug mentioned some folks were going for e-mail. I went - it was us plus Carol and Nuru. That was fun! It was dark - I've mostly seen the area by day. Passing the Taj is always a chore - the beggars know that's where the money is, and we picked up two or three kids as usual. Shortly after that, a guy asked me "You want hash?" No, I don't think so.

Doug at the Internet Cafe.

The internet computers are located upstairs near here - they sell that access, and they have phones that you can use. I called my parents, talked to Dad for one minute (only Rs 55, a bit more than a dollar). Awful connection, but the delay wasn't as long as Doug had, only 2-3 seconds. Told him to tell Mom I was fine, and having a great time.

E-mail connection was awful, but only Rs 60 per hour.

next part | previous part | India trip 
by giles