Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rambling thoughts

So it's been a while since my last update and I really have no excuse. I could say I was busy but more than likely I was just being lazy. Rather than write about everything that has happened in 10 days I'll just write some rambling thoughts.

Haridwar - what a great trip. A holy place along the Ganges River. Surrounded by miles and miles of tourist shops, the bathing ghats are a serine place where Hindus bathe in the holy Ganges River. While I'm not Hindu my father was and it felt good to bathe here, afterwards a Hindu priest performed a ceremony for my late father with me. Lunch was great, only a buck. One of my best meals in India.

The best selling car in India is the Tata Nano. Tata is made in India, the Nano is a very small car and sells for only $2,000.

Dhabas are road side restaurants, more like a small truck stop where passerby's of all types stop for food. They are known for their wonderful and inexpensive home cooked meals, and in front of many dhabas are cots for drivers to get some sleep. Usually also available is a hand pump water spout and some buckets for bathing.

Bell bottom pants are still in, at least in south India. They were more common than straight legged pants in some places. Actually, they looked so good that even I thought about getting a pair.

India is a beautiful country and despite it's initial appearance in places of chaos and poverty there is a system here that works. After two months of being in India I've come to appreciate all aspects of life and culture here. What westerner's might consider chaos is a very organized system, but it can only work in India.

Scooter rides in India are the quickest way to get around, also the most exhilarating.

Sugar cane is a huge crop in north India around Meerut. It's transported from the fields to the processing plant by truck, carts pulled by water buffalo, rickshaw and even by hand. I was in a car behind one truck moving slowly through a village, young boys chasing the truck pulling at random canes sticking out of the back in hopes for a quick snack. I remember as a child here snacking on sugar cane and it brought back smiles.

There are no trash cans in many places, trash is just thrown to the side of the road and it builds up through out the day. For the first time visitor this may give the appearance of a dirty town or city. But early in the morning the streets are filled with workers picking up the trash and removing it from sight. Now I see the trash on the side of the streets as guaranteed employment for someone that is in need of feeding their family.

I walked by a city trash dump one day and was saddened at the sight of people of all ages, including very young children, digging through the trash looking for anything of value. Their work was very meticulous, every piece of garbage was handled and thoroughly inspected. Anything with a value of even a cent or two was collected including pieces of wire and glass bottles. And while it was sad to see that people needed to do this to survive from day to day I smiled knowing that the gold ear ring my mother accidentally threw away four weeks ago will no doubt be found, and will make someone joyous as if finding a pirate's hidden treasure.

I went to where dad was cremated. It's a very busy place, a very holy place. I was the only non-Indian there I think. I actually had Indians coming up to me asking to take my photos. It was actually a pretty nice place along the ghats. I didn't make it too far to where they actually perform the cremations but will on my next trip. On the way back to Meerut we stopped in a small village for chai, not a tourist place by any means. All the boys within 100 meters came to see me, it was a lot like flirting I think. Got a few good photos. I think it was mostly a muslim village as there were no women around.

The malls are great places to get some relief from the non stop noise, and some good food can be found there too. Just Noodles is now one of my favorite mall eating places.

On one of my three and a half hour walk through the city  I made a stop at the family temple for a short bit. I sat with Pundi ji, the priest and we talked for a while. Then his wife came out as did his children. So I stayed for a while and had tea and cookies and we talked about all sorts of things. His elder boy is 17 and wants to be an engineer in America. His younger brother is 11 and not sure what he wants to do but wants to go to America too. So they had a lot of questions about America (they don't say nor understand United States here in India, only America and usually it's pronounced Amrica).

Electronics in India are outrageously expensive, everything else is very affordable.

Going out to movies is a favorite past time in India, most movies costing around $2 per person. The 'red carpet rooms' are theaters with fancy sections which include sofas, recliners and includes meals and all movies snacks, all for $10 per person or less. Indian movies usually are 2.5 hours and longer.

My favorite fruit is now guavas, I like chai, fresh roasted peanuts can't be beat and street food is always good.

I went with my cousin Neena to get a pair of glasses for her son and ended up getting a pair for me. Free exam, great frames and same day service for $20.

My taxi to/from Haridwar

The bathing ghats at Haridwar

The bathing ghats near Hasanpur
where my father was cremated.

On this tray is an entire restaurant but with only one meal choice

This homeless boy was with his three siblings and mother and begging for food.
He was successful in feeding his family members, now he looks on at the food
being sold, his stomach still empty

Stirring a large pan of boiling milk

Moving sugar cane by truck
and by head

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