Archive for the 'India' Category

Thoughts on India

Feb 24 2009 Published by Ryan under India

So many colors. That’s what every traveler says at some point on their way through India. Festivals, saris, semi-trucks: everything is vibrant, over-the-top, baroque. The visual complexity of India is just the surface.

I returned to Chicago on February 10 after two eight hour flights and five hour layover at Heathrow in London (least they had beer). Man jet lag is a bitch. I managed to stay awake through most of the traveling in the hope that once I got home and passed out, I would wake up the next morning at my usual time and feel all adjusted.


I woke up at five the next morning ready for a dinner. Wide awake, body not caring that it was still dark out and there was no curry to be found. Two weeks later and my internal clock is finally adjusted.

I’ve been telling my stories and trying to explain India to everyone who’s interested.

India is a wonderful, fascinating place. And it’s absolutely insane. Not in a deranged way, like I said, It’s a wonderful place.

Some knee-jerk examinations:

Chowri Bazzar
Chowri Bazzar

1. There are so many people in India. And they all hang out on the street. At least all the men do. I don’t know where the women hang out, just not all on the street. A country of over one billion in the space one-third the size of the entire United States.

2. There are two India’s. And they exist on top of one another. The prosperous, westernizing/modernizing, middle-upper class India that I recognize having grown up in the middle class neighborhoods of the United States, and poor India. In America we push the poor, unsightly, unappealing to the fringes of society. The streets are clean and empty. In India the poor, unsightly, unappealing is in your face. The problems of the poor are tied to India’s future. And the current government has recognized that and has put an effort into improving infrastructure, health care and education for the poor.

3. Most rules are optional in India. If the rule is unnecessary or in your way, especially if you are in some kind of motorized vehicle with a horn, forget the rule and honk.

I like it.

Why is it that Americans wait for the red lights to change when there is no traffic going the other way? Because of the camera at the stop light. Or because there just might be a cop lingering in that dark parking lot. Our safety-obsessed, sue-happy culture has reduced deaths on the road and accidents in the workplace. Waiting for a few minutes at a stop light never hurt anyone, but our society invests so much into our system of rules those rules are just not questioned. Do we need to law-ify every single nugget of common sense in order to get people to not do dumb stuff?


4. All Indians know one another. Not really. But it seems that way when you don’t understand Hindi. Indians make fast friends. Especially in the country, but even in the city, the social aspect of Indian life is much more open and important than anywhere I’ve been. And if someone knows a little English, you will hear it. Some will strike up a conversation and eventually try to sell you something, but just as many just want to ask you where you’re from.

It’s an amazing place and I encourage everyone to go there. Make sure you learn to like Indian food first, and don’t just eat curry when you’re there. It’s not that good for you.

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Mumbai and Aurangabad

Jan 13 2009 Published by Ryan under India

I arrived in Mumbai (or Bombay, depends who you talk to), last Thursday after missing a transfer in London. British Airways was nice enough to give me a hotel room, where I promptly passed out for six hours. Bad idea – sleeping in the middle of the day is good way to make jet lag worse. But it felt so nice after not sleeping on the overnight flight.

My first couple days in Mumbai where great – I met a few different locals who I paid to take me around. It was very helpful. Few people speak English that I can understand and it makes getting around the huge city quite hard. At least the taxis aren’t too expensive. I met a fellow traveller on Saturday, and we saw some museums and Elepanta Island, and finished the day with a beer at the famous Leopold Cafe, where you can still see bullet holes in the windows.

There are just so many people. Everywhere. When I order food in a restaurant, there are four people waiting for my order. There are lines of taxis and auto-rickshaws waiting for anyone to need them, but mostly just waiting. I bought a pair of jeans in Aurangabad today and there where three people working in this small shop all hovering trying to help me to buy something.

But the Indians are very friendly. Visiting Buddhist caves yesterday and a hilltop fort today, people come up to me and the others in my group and ask for photos with us and they practice their english. And all the school children stare and run up to us to say hello and shake our hands, only to shy away halfway through and run away again, laughing.

I’ve made it to Aurangabad, the first stop on my tour after spending four days in Mumbai. It seems much smaller than Mumbai, but it is still a city of two million people. It’s kind of in a valley surrounded by steep rocky hills. Tomorrow we travel to Jalgaon to check out the town and some nearby temples carved into the hills.

Very fun.

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India Trip

Jan 09 2009 Published by Ryan under India

For January and half of February I’m traveling in India. I’m starting in Bombay and spending five days until I go on a tour with intrepid travel. It will take me from Bombay to Delhi, stopping at towns and cities along the way. And I’ll end in Delhi where I’ll meet two freinds and spend two weeks exploring the city and surrounding area.

Check my flickr for photos. I’ll be uploading a few here and there (Internet has been slow and spotty for the first few days).

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