Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Post from my Niece, Audrey

Hmmmm. (tee-hee) Hmmmm. I am having lots of fun with my Aunt Heidi. I’m going on two trips: to the Golden Temple (in Amritsar) and to Kerala. We are going to have lots of fun in Kerala. We are gong to buy clothes and bangles. I really LOVE Fab India. In Amritsar, we are going to stay at a fancy hotel; we’ll get a view of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine.

The people at ATS never clean the pool. It was green as a pond yesterday. Ew. We got pedicures the other day, and I was the hit of the saloon. They all said my feet were too small for a pedicure, but I proved them wrong! I look fabulous. We also got henna at the US Embassy at the fourth of July festival. My henna and my Aunt Heidi’s henna is fading now. I got a hair clip that was 15 rupees. That equals about 30 cents US. If you bargain with the people on the street and you’re a kid, you always get a good price. Take it from me, I know.

We are having a good time!

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Exploring with a Traveling Companion

Before I came here, my sister posted on a message board to see if she could find me a traveling companion. This was a lovely idea — someone with whom I could sight see in Delhi and/or travel to Varanasi and Agra.

My companion was eager to meet me. She called Lesa several times, and I finally spoke to her yesterday. We met at the

Lodi Gardens and strolled around. There were various tombs:

I love the arches of the tombs. The gardens were nice, but it is rather dry here, so the gardens were dry. (Speaking of which, it has not rained since I have been here, which is why it is getting very hot.) There was this lovely pond with a stork (?). I loved the lily pads with blooming flowers. These tombs were not well kept up, but then we went to Humayun’s Tomb. This is a world Heritage site, and the tomb was very beautiful — the mix of Islamic and Hindu architecture.

Finally, we went to Khan Market and had a drink at Cafe Turtle. I had a yummy mango lassi, my first of the trip.

This was a trial day for my new travel companion. I don’t know that we are aptly suited. We seem to have different traveling styles, but we had a nice day together today.

Sorry about the confusing nature of how these pictures are laid out — but I am having trouble figuring out how to navigate my own blog! The first nine are of Humayun’s Tomb and surrounding buildings. The next three are of the pond (obviously). The final are three pictures are of tombs at the Lodi Gardens.


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Day 3 — the Wall of Tiredness

Today at about 1:30 PM I hit the wall of jet lag tiredness. We were in a restaurant, Bamboo Shoots. The kids had school today, and Lesa had work. After taking care of some things around the house, Jon and I launched on some errands. We stopped in sector 110 to stop at some market stalls to get a shower head — a replacement for the one I broke. Chauhan, the driver, got the shower head.

Having a driver is obviously a new experience for me. Driving here in Delhi and Noida is a very different experience. (Sadly, I cannot find the blog I was reading when I was in the states — but an expat did a post about the traffic in Delhi — how all of the horns are simply a buzz of communication between cars — so I do NOT claim this observaton as my own.) Horns are a constant. While one might be driving on a two lane road, people drive as if there were five lanes. Bicycles, auto rickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, cars, trucks, scooters, and pedestrians all vie for spaces in the road. They travel at different speeds, so cars may shoots past the slower vehicles, yet the bicycles, scooters, and rickshaws sneak though narrow passages between stopped or slowed larger vehicles. Horns seem to be a way of saying, “Hey, I’m behind you, so don’t swerve out.” It actually seems like it is a kind gesture, not malicious. It looks to me like there are constant near crashes, yet the drivers are clearly very skilled!

Lesa and Jon’s driver is Chauhan. He is Rajput, and he speaks very good English. When I got in the car after arriving at the airport, I conceptualized him like a taxi driver. But Lesa and the family treat him like one of the family. We all chat with him as we drive. He is great with the kids, and he has a great sense of humor. He is also like a constant tour guide. When we went to the market to buy some groceries, Chauhan took me to get the paneer, which was at a tiny stall consisting of a small chest fridge. Then we bought some fruit.

Which reminds me — the mango is amazing! It is the sweetest and juiciest mango ever — so refreshing.

Anyway, today I bought one outfit at Fab India. Lesa suggested I try buying there before the adventurous markets. Tomorrow, I meet Ramona, a fellow traveller Lesa found on some message board. Dinner time: paneer and veggies.

Update: Here is the outfit I got at Fab India. I thought the colors went well together, but when my cousin saw it, she said, “oh, mismatched is in!”

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Adventures from Day 2

I had a rough beginning to my morning. I woke up very early and felt like hell. I was hot and crabby. I finally went for a walk around my sister’s complex, ATS Greens Village. When I got back, I decided to take a shower, and I took a long, refreshing shower. I had my eyes closed through most of it, but right at the end, I turned to face the showerhead, and I looked up. Water was spraying down at me, as one usually expects in a shower, but water was also spraying straight up into the air and hitting the wall, floor, geyser (pronounced “geezer” like an old man — basically an electric water heater) — everywhere. All of my clothes were soaked, as was my towel. We had to clean it all up, and as it turns out, it was a cracked shower head.

Update: Here is Jonathan’s version of the shower head repair story — very funny!

We later went to the Red Fort in Old Delhi.

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This was a fort that Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who had the Taj Mahal built, erected as his fortress in Delhi. It was a cool historic site with iconic Mughal architecture.

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We had a tour guide, likely a random guy, who gave us a Disney-esque version of the fort, but it was at least entertaining.

Afterward, we went to a Jain temple across the street, a beautiful old temple. They ever ran a bird hospital. This bird hospital was for sick or injured birds (and rabbits). They had rows and rows of 1 ft by 1 ft cages with sick (and dying) birds. It was a sad thing to see, yet it was good that they had a place to be comforted. As a major tenet of the Jain faith, they believe in not harming any living creatures.

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After that we went to Haldiram’s for lunch. I had yummy dosa. I went to get a chai for after, and they were all out! The we came back home and Lesa, Audrey, and I got pedicures, my first one ever. It’s been a good second day. Now I need to get to bed.

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First 24 Hours in India

Man, I was so homesick in India that I had to go back to the US within my first 24 hours in India:
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We went to the US Embassy for an Independence Day celebration. The celebration included lots of American food — hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ, quesadillas, popcorn, fries, beer, etc. They also had a big flag cake. There was a band, and we danced. They even had games, such as tug-of-war, and one heat pitted all of the children against about 10-12 marines. The kids won! But in a follow-up victory, a marine won the watermelon eating contest.

On our way there, we stopped and saw the India Gate, a memorial built by the British to honor fallen Indian soldiers in WWI:
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It was a good day. It is very warm here, of course, but I am slowly adapting. Speaking of which, I should get to bed to try to get over jet lag, though it has not been too bad.

Oh — and we went to INA, a market in Delhi. There I had the best peda I have ever had! Yum!!!

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Departure Imminent

Yipes! In less than 24 hours I will be on a plane to begin my adventures in India. I am all packed up finally, and boy am I tired. I’m looking forward to a nice day with my husband tomorrow. I’m really going to miss him.

My Brush with Fame, or Honey, You Never Had a Chance

I went to the post office today to mail some post cards and to buy some low denomination stamps, as we still have staps left over from out wedding three years ago. Rates have increased at least twice since then. There was only one person working at the counter, so I waited in line a long time, so long that a guy behind me and I joked about ringing chairs in the future. But the fun began when I left.

As I walked into the post office, someone was taking photos of the building. I walked in front of the camera before I noticed and hoped that they did not get me in a shot. When I came out, a young man said he was from the Hartford Courant and asked if he could interview me, because the state recently announced they might close this branch. I expressed sadness at the prospect of the branch closing, and the reporter replied that he was speaking the the right person.

I agreed to be interviewed, thinking this might be my opportunity to be on the cover of the Courant. Then he asked me, “So, do you come here often?”

I couldn’t let that go, even though I knew exactly what he meant, and I replied, “Whaddya hitting on me?” It took him a moment or two to register why I’d said that, and then he could not stop laughing.

Whe he finally composed himself, he asled me how many times a week I came there. “A week?” I queried, “a week?”

“Yeah, for business, personal needs…”

Here I was after just mailing postcards to my Creative Writing class with summer writing prompts and buying small denomination stamps because we still have stamps from three years ago. I said, “I come here once every three months or so.” I noticed he was not writing anything down on his notepad.

He quickly ended the interview with, “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” Thus my moment in the spotlight quickly passed over me.