We Moved!

We Moved! We Moved! We Moved!

Please reset your bookmarks and follow the new blog:



As mentioned in my next-to-last post, I had to do a mini road trip this week. I had my new favorite toy with me - my, quickly becoming indispensable,  IPad. So it was with delight that while on our long drive, I saw an email pop onto my IPad with the details of one of my client/friend/buyer's recent trip to India. I have been pretty lucky and have traveled to many many far off places in the world but India is a country that I have yet to explore.

L went with her friend A, and when she returned she did a little recap and sent it off to her circle of friends and I was happy to be on the mailing list! I actually ended up reading it out loud to My Guy as he drove.

I think one of the best possible thing you can do in order to become a truly fabulous girl, is to travel and explore the rest of the world.  It gives you a sense of life outside of our self-imposed "comfort zones", teaches you all the wonderful diversity that people can have and most important, teaches you that at some level or another we are all alike, even when we seem worlds apart.

I love that this narrative is both honest and frank. It's also interesting as the writer is a life long New Yorker, so in a way her narrative gave me an insight to two countries - both India and her US perspective. I have just copied it pretty much verbatim and added the pictures that where sent (all with permission of course) with just some slight edits to take out the travel guide names and the privacy of the person who sent this intact.

I had to giggle at the part where they order Grilled Cheese and it came made with Cottage Cheese - I once ordered a Greek Salad in a tiny village in nowhere Finland and it was this odd concoction of Cheddar cheese, pickles and lettuce - the lesson being is to not assume that food with western title's is going to be what you get at your local deli.

I hope you enjoy it!


Hi All,

While its still fresh in my mind I thought I would share our trip with you. We both agreed that India was not as we had thought it was. We had expected, I think, women in brilliant saris all over, lots of color in the streets. It was unique, interesting, but we had not thought  of the overpowering 3rd world aspect to all we saw. Some of the most brilliant minds in Silicon Valley are Indian, and yet the country is as it was centuries ago. That is not bad, we had a really solid experience, we laughed non stop and took it all in and digested it daily.

The arrangements with the travel guide agency were superb! Cannot say enough about their guides and our driver was incredible. The hotels were lavish and the Indians are super nice.

There is no Infra Structure that can be seen--for example no street lights, signs, driving rules or speed limits in any city except for downtown Delhi near the govt offices. Traffic is in chaos with everyone just 'go for it' as the driver navigates the streets and highways. For example one morning's drive somewhere it was totally fogged in and on the road the trucks coming towards us, which we couldn't see, only blink their lights a few seconds before impact! and everyone is swerving all over the place. Why don't they keep their lights on...something about their battery! There is only the structure of a society from centuries ago..no job placement, no old age benefits, no nothing which would seem to us to be a foundation for society. 65% of Indians DO NOT have toilets and so..yes...men are peeing all over the streets all the time. They find a tree or just face a wall and that's that. You don't really get used to seeing this only you try to not focus on this. On a road which was 2 lanes coming and 2 lanes going with a think meridian in between I looked up to see a truck coming at us. But his is on the wrong side of the highway I said.."well that's what he wanted to do" said the driver as we swerved.

There are animals wandering in the streets everywhere and they are all starving! They are sitting in the highways, all over the side streets, and just wandering looking for food. This is this situation: There are more than 3000 sacred things like cows, dogs, and they cannot be messed with. And when they fall over dead from eating plastic our guide tells us, well then what to do with them cause there is no ASPCA. People get cows for the milk, but do not seem to understand that cows can only produce it when they have a diet of grass and grains, and they do not have that in most places. The land is barren and the cows then stop producing milk and they are then homeless and left to roam the streets looking for garbage of any kind. They are there with the what I call 'the universal starving dog with no breed' which all look the same. and all starving and along with the goats and then the horned steers all over which they say give better milk. So on any given street we are all wandering together and respecting each others rights to pass. Not a few cows...or a few dogs...I mean thousands of them! And the dogs most especially broke my heart.

Cow in the Street

Delhi was interesting, all the cities are interesting and all the palaces divine, Crumbling yes, in need of work, sure, but still one can clearly see how the Maharajahs lived. It is like what was is and if it is standing then it remains. When you do see women on the streets it is more the peasant class who are off to do an errand and all wearing traditional clothing. The men wear these white pasha pants made from a cloth or western clothing. And they are everywhere. It is a male society of course, and you see small boys and grown men arm in arm, hand in hand, arms around each other as you would men and women but because they dont have the opportunity to have those kinds of relationships with women and only have arranged marriages, they form these close bonds with other men and their need for deep friendship and affection is shared  together. The older men seem to be wearing turbans the younger ones not, but those people we see all over the streets are not office workers, or factory workers, these are people eeking out some kind of living as migrants, construction, having street stalls selling candy, or friend food. It differs not at all from city to city.


The first stop was Varanese which is the holy city of the Ganges. Well, that city is Hell on Earth in our minds. It was incredibly interesting but socks you in the stomach - there is no frame of referenced here for what you will see, and perhaps it was too much for my friend A. The Ganges is sacred water and the pilgrimages there to bathe in the waters--so men are in 1 place, women in another, cows, dogs, steers. The area is teeming with people. Many people choose to have their head shaven while there and give the hair as a sacrifice. So we went out on an evening boat ride and can see it all. There was a large spiritual chanting with lots of smoke, fire, drums and the burning of incense and camphor. Our guide got us super seats on a little open ledge so we could see it all. Then A said look behind you L, and a man and his huge black steer were right behind us tucked in for the night in their sleeping space. So people come from all over to die at the Ganges! and there is even a home there for those who are waiting to die. But this is the part which really threw us. On the boat ride up and down at the end of this little inlet there is incredible smoke and fire. And then you are told that this is where they are burning bodies! 3, 4 at a time and its right there in front of you and the air is filled with the smoke from the bodies and boy did A freak out. Well this elicited many talks about their paradise, how there is no place to physically bury all the people who die there, and etc. A conversation one would never have if not in India. The guide was from Varanese and thought it was the best city in India...he even said it was just like Venice-but he had not been to Venice! Because of his passion for the city it made it easier to deal with the onslaught of people, strays, and the smell. I think some should definitely miss this city, on the other hand it was as authentic as one could get and it was like being there when Gandhi bathed in the river.

And this is interesting. The water looks very icky. But our guide in Jaipur said she took a bottle of it back home. And thought it would get algae and grow things in it and have to be discarded yet week by week the water grew clearer and now it is pure looking. We heard this story from others. It's a GD miracle!

Then the next morning we were going back to watch all the bathing and the guide pointed out that on the car next to us was a dead body on the top of the car going for cremation. Ski's or a body! All very surreal to say the least. And then, because they are only allowed to use dead wood, as living wood is sacred also, people come to the cremation sites to carry away stray pieces of wood to use for cooking in the streets.

Tented Safari

Most people go for the elephant ride up the hills to the Red Fort. Awful for the elephants who do this 12 hours a day non stop. India Beat arranged for us to go out to the Elephant Polo fields in the desert and we had a 30 minute ride, got to feed the elephants bananas and then have lunch outside there and watch a bit of elephant polo-the slowest game in  the world and fun. Interaction with wild animals for me is super fun and this was great. I see the Maharajah elephant seats were padded and soft, ours were not so it isn't comfortable, but it is an elephant! And you see them all over the countryside along with camels being used to haul.

We love Jaipur and Udaipur for the shopping of course! The tented resort was gorgeous overlooking a huge lake but I think that is more of a romantic place for a 1 nite stay between the cities to catch your breath. The weather was perfect and mild, never hot, but 2 nites were very cold. Each resort had its own palaces, its own gorgeous hotel and its special perspective. All very interesting.

The Taj Mahal is as you would imagine. There were thousands upon thousands of others enjoying it also but that was fine. One gets this awesome sense of how much money the rulers had and how they spent it. There was no budget, no need to curtail any expense. How I wish their jewels were in a museum but they aren't we were told. They're all privately owned still.

The 1 guide we were not crazy about is pictured in the jodhpurs and looks like Johnnie Depp. In fact we had the Vanity Fair mag with us with Depp on the cover and gave it to the guide who didn't know who Depp was. We didn't feel ever that the American culture was known, was part of their lives as it is in Japan, for example. Because he was descendant from royalty maybe, or had '100 acres of farmland' he was too pushy and didn't want to miss taking A shopping. He looked like he and his cousin were from costume at MGM.

Guide in Jodpur in his Jodhpurs

One tries to eat the food. It looks so good, smells wonderful but.....all the hotels were so nice when it came to trying to create non spicy dishes but they were still too spicy for us.
The Imperial in Delhi has a great Italian rest and the chef either studied in Italy or is part Italian. Best meals we had. We just tried, but couldn't eat the Indian food. We ended up with lots of plain rice and creamed cauliflower or whatever else had no spices. Indians do not do edible desserts. Many places had a continental menu and we did what we could with chicken etc but A wouldn't eat the chickens because of what they looked like as we saw them in the cages. I don't blame her but I did eat them. 1 nite I got horribly sick and it was so bad I went right to the Cipro and then slept in the car the next day on the road. 24 hours later I was fine but we didn't even try to eat the Indian fare after that as A's constitution was very iffy also. One day we ordered grilled cheese sandwich, but alas it was made with cottage cheese so that was that with the coffee shop fare.

Opium Ceremony

Then we visited villages which is always interesting. Those who have lived the same way for centuries. In the pix is a Opium Drink ceremony. 3 people from the hotel actually drank it and A said for 1 million dollars she would not. And I cannot blame her. The camel hair 'filter' surely needed replacing to say the least and then drinking out of the shamans hands! Pass on that one! But the interesting part is the anthropological part. These particular villagers only eat lentils...and seeds from some fruit and cows milk. They marry the girls off at about 12 to another village boy. In the pix of the Opium ceremony you can see what most men wear. Pretty much they all look like this unless young.

The Jain temple was the coolest of them all. But each Palace has something wonderful to see. The interior mirror work, art work, mosaic and the hotels do their best to recreate this. 500 rooms in a palace..well that seems like an interesting way to live! and the old photos of the Raj's with the Brits is so interesting.  You can just hear them talk.

All in all India is really interesting, uniquely from another time in history and I am so glad this trip was taken. I wish there had been less garbage and starving of the animals and masses of unwashed humanity, but that's okay. Not everyone can live like the French! And if Versailles is one's standard then one is in trouble!

Toilets should be on someones list there. And it took A 2 days to get out of Delhi, as it is said, for no particular reasons the Indians cancel flights. Will the flight take off---well who knows! Maybe or Maybe not.
It was not an easy trip but one I am so glad I took and we did shop til we dropped including some divine antique furniture and jewelry! So onward to the next Bucket stop.

Happy New Year to us all


1 comment:

Christie said...

Beautiful! A fab read - thanks for sharing! xo

Personal Power Image Consulting

Web Analytics