Reflections in India, my trip so far
So most of you have seen the google plus updates. I haven't been adding many lately as I have just been regrouping at the hostel. With temperatures in the 100s, it is hard to do anything outside for long periods of time without lots of shade and lots of water.
At my last hostel, I met a friend named Mark and we spent lots of time hanging out, eating, suffering the heat and enjoying the pillow room (Mark hasn't seen the best of it as the projector and sound were set up yesterday---AMAZING). I have to say that I know for certain that Mark and I will be mates for a while. I knew when meeting him that he and I just hit it off. Our conversations were good and he's got a great heart. We spent lots of time talking about our travels and the places we have been. We stopped at mcdonalds often to get ice cream and we consumed mass quantities of water. He offered great insight into things that I would normally never thought about. We had great laughs and he got addicted to Sons of Anarchy, just before leaving for Nepal.
Jake and Lana arrived on the 5th and we celebrated and by celebrated I mean we drank a 5th of Tequila, talked stories of travel and family and lightly discussed where we plan to go in India. I haven't done much outside of Delhi and I am okay with that. For the first time in a long time, I don't feel like I have to be somewhere. I meet amazing people and have awesome talks about their travels and their life back home before they left to backpack the world. I have met Australians, Coloradans, Germans, New Zealanders, an Irish and a Scott. Numerous indians have asked me to pose for photos (around 25 and counting) and I have said "hi" to hundreds of beautiful indian children.
Although this city is dirty and polluted, there is still beauty here. When walking down the street, an Indian may seem unapproachable, but as soon as you smile at them, its as is their eyes light up like the sun, they smile back and welcome you with open arms. There is a charm to this city that cannot be described by words, but rather the smells of the city, the amazing cuisine and the noise of the honking horns, tell a story of this amazing place.
There is so much history here. Night before last we went to Karim's in old delhi and the flavors were heaven to my mouth and my stomach. I had a fear before arriving here that the food and water would make me sick, and yet it is far from the truth. We live in a sterile culture in the US. Everything has to be pretty and pristine. Westerners would jaw drop at how food is handled here. My advice, drop your fear and appreciate the food that they prepare with love. Nothing and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the amazing flavors of the food here.
After dinner we had some local deserts by the Jama Masjid, which is the largest Mosque in india. (Mark and I walked around the other day and checked it out during the day, and I must say it is remarkable). The desserts are sweet and delicious and too many to name without having to bust out a dictionary. As we walked back, I asked Pankaj and Pallavi where we could get Paan. I read about it in the book I am reading, "Shantaram" and thought, I must try it. It is normally consumed after dinner or a meal, however it can be enjoyed any time during the day. Yes it is very carcinogenic, but wow what flavors existed in this. I was handed a leaf wrapped and told to put it in my mouth and chew. We did the non tobacco varietal and therefore did not need to spit. Mine lasted the entire trip back to Stops hostel delhi. I thoroughly enjoyed it and may partake of better suggestions on our Journey.
Last night we went to the "Old Fort" and watched the light show and history of Delhi. It was beautiful and overwhelming at the same time. Jake missed it as he wasn't feeling well at all Jake overdid it yesterday and probably suffered heat exhaustion. He was up all night retching. It happens when you come from a colder climate to an extreme heat environment. You need at least a week to acclimate. After the show, we went into the wealthy part of Delhi and had cake. I had an amazing coffee oreo ice cream an banana nut cake. I sampled the rest of the groups wares, but it was agreed that my choice was the best. It reminded me of my baking days and how i miss making cinnamon rolls. Baking is definitely a passion.
I realized last night that Hostels are the way to go. I would love to start up a chain of hostels here because they are relatively new and will continue to gain popularity. Guest housing has been the method of rest for weary travelers until recently. I like the idea of providing an amazing place to stay, where travelers can rest up, regroup and continue on. The idea of meeting new people and offering such a variety of people a wonderful place to rest and inspire, rejuvenates my long dead soul.
Our hostel hosts are amazing and plan activities every night for the group. It is completely optional but a great way to see the city. I have experienced intoxicating food, wonderful people and gained a sense of what is a problem and what is not in our world. They do so much with so little and they are very passionate here about their culture and their history. I am also working on sourcing tarps, tents or plastic for Nepal. This is proving to be an interesting project as I have to find transport into Nepal as well. I hope everything goes swimmingly.
Until next time...