Sunday, March 26, 2006

India Ho! - Entry for December 25, 2005

Christmas morning - like 1:05 am. Getting my head around leaving in five days. Not much more to do.... just get my head in to the thing, finish the meds I need, make sure I don't leave a mess, and keep smiling.
This blog isn't meant to have the 'best of' pics. It's meant to be a journal, with pics from Anne's small digital camera, as opposed to the film I'm shooting. For once, it'll be a set of pics that may even include me. See how it goes.

Sunday December 25, 2005 - 01:05am (PST)

Entry for December 30, 2005

2:15 am. Leaving here by taxi at 4 am. The wind has been just nuts this evening, blowing like crazy. Made a little anxsy about the first short hop over to Vancouver, but I'm sure there'll be no problem. Two bags all packed - daypack full of gear and film; sports bag with a little bit of everything else (plus more 'support' stuff for cameras). A bit heavy for an old guy, but, hey, us old guys are tough. Turns out Jai and Christie are on their way with the kids to Delhi right now... spoke with Pots & of course I now have a wrong email for them, but at least I've got a phone number. Slightly spaced from no sleep - waiting to sleep on the flight to Toronto. Given that Air Canada has gone cheap, no more tasty, warm 'meals' to distract. Mmmmm... sandwiches in cardboard and plastic and Subways! I think I'll grab something from Tim Horton's at the airport on the run instead.

Friday December 30, 2005 - 02:23am (PST)

New Delhi, India - Entry for January 01, 2006

In the Hare Ram Lodge in Pahar Ganj, New Delhi.

A good first day in Delhi. Though there are new pollution controls in Delhi, since I was last here 5 years ago, the air is pretty thick. Been stumbling through the day with 12.5 hours jet lag, but have stayed on my feet since I've been up, walking around Pahar Ganj and getting re-acquainted. Actually enjoying myself more than I thought I would on my first day. Even though there aren't all that many foreigners around ('all in Goa for New years'), I've had lots of good encounters with other travellers, and with the local folks. The pic is of me last night in the front of the hotel where I'm staying. Just had a good dinner - Thai of sorts!- and tea and conversation with a Christian evangelizer (sp?)/business man living here who was arrested a couple of times for his religious activities some years back. Interesting, though, and fun to hear such a different philosphical approach (can you spell 'end-of-days'?).

Sunday January 1, 2006 - 08:57am (PST)

Entry for January 01, 2006 - take 2

Just a snapshot of a Vietnamese woman (with her French husband) in Pahar Ganj having her arms covered in designs with henna for a celebration they were going to. Wish I'd seen the guy applying the designs (all by hand), but the results were wild. If not for the air pollution, I could hang around here longer. Some steps towards cleaning things up though, including the extension of an under/overground rapid transit system around Delhi. Good deal for foreigners for the Metro - 50 rupees for a one day travel pass (about $1.50 Can). It's 10:30pm, time for a shower and a crash.

Sunday January 1, 2006 - 09:03am (PST)

Entry for January 03, 2006 - Part 1

The picture is of my favorite Jelaybe seller on Pahar Ganj - mmmmm... 10 rupees for a big bag of hot jelaybes. There's been two sellers at this same location since we first came here in the 70's

Spent the last couple of days doing a lot of walking around and having a good time. Finally connected with Jai, but just had to have a nice conversation with him, as they're pretty locked in to family stuff. I'm sure they'll have a good time, but hope they get to 'drive' their own trip. Been meeting interesting people - a guy from Vancouver, originally from Israel, here for some months to learn yoga (he's also 55, born 7 days afer me, and today, as I sat having coffee with some Kashmiri rug merchants (actually a fun interaction), met a woman just starting studying Hindi here for her PhD in Art History. Turned out she's Canadian... from BC... from Victoria... from Fernwood... who used to live up the road from us (6 years ago) next to Barb B's!!!!. Talk about weird. She wanted to go the Jama Masjid mosque in old Delhi, but was a bit concerned on her own, so I ended up spending the day being her escort there, to the Red Fort, and showing her how to use the new Delhi 'Metro' and Pahar Ganj. At the Red Fort another woman attached herself to us, as she was traveling with her daughter and was being quite hassled. I've got my train ticket to Gwalior for 6 am Wednesday, getting in at 9:30pm. The journeying begins. The next few blogs are of night time pics around Pahar Ganj.
Another jelaybe seller next door.

 Tuesday January 3, 2006 - 08:53am (PST)

Entry for January 03, 2006 - Part 2

Me at the Kashmiri rug seller in Connaught place.

Tuesday January 3, 2006 - 08:55am (PST)

Entry for January 03, 2006 - Part 3

Nightime fruit stall at Pahar Ganj.

Tuesday January 3, 2006 - 08:56am (PST)

Entry for January 03, 2006 - Part 4

Mmmmm.... nightly stop at the hot spiced milk seller up the corner. Love to watch the guys froth up the hot milk from the wok by sloshing it from one container to another, then into a metal glass. A very well spent nightly 10 rupees.

Tuesday January 3, 2006 - 09:00am (PST)

Entry for January 05, 2006

Crap, I'm cold. I headed for the south, going to do little jumps, but I was really so cold (the whole Deccan plains are supposed to be really cold for the next while) and long distance trains were real hard to come by...... so I'm back in Delhi after a quick ride. Gwalior was.... well a big India town with a huge fort on a plateau in the middle, but nothing else going for it. I was just too damn chilled. Went to the fort & walked around in it and around it (got a bit too much sun, but good walk through some residential areas). The other thing I wanted to see was closed for the next little while, so, crap, figured why suffer through a slow cold trip. Back to Delhi, and see about getting to Goa. See how it goes, but I'll have a bit of a rest, then head out. Grabbing the Express train to Delhi was a bit of a problem - I ended up jumping a ticket queue, running across the tracks and jumping on to a moving train. Not bright, I think especially at 55. Had an interesting ride back, sitting with a bunch of young Indian guys, coming up after a 54 hour train ride from Trivandrum. They were all heading back to Univ. in Delhi after visting parents. One guy's english was perfect. He's in Engineering, but having second thoughts about finishing in it (with only one year to go) and going in to something else. Neat to listen to them, as southern languages always sound like people talking with marbles in their mouths (no offense, but it is, to my ears, a somewhat 'bubbly' language). We had a couple of Hijras (men, or boys, often castrated and who dress and act like women) on the train. They're REALLY aggressive - one came into our compartment, dressed all in Rajasthani clothes, demanding money or she would stand there and clap 'her' hands. She then started to grab at a couple of the guys legs, then crotches, to get money. They chucked 10 rupees at him & he left to join his compatriot. These folks do this kind of thing all the time - they show up in groups at weddings and birth parties, and won't leave until they get money. Then, unfortunate to see , there were the regular legless beggars, singers, and a 10 year old girl doing cartwheels down the corridor for baksheesh. Back in Delhi.... power's been going out on parts of the street - just always carry a small flashlight. Had a great thali in the 'Sonu restaurant' - real full so heading off to get under the blankets & crash. Ahh... India.

Thursday January 5, 2006 - 07:19am (PST)

Entry for January 07, 2006 - a couple of tourist pics

The weather is still pretty chilly in Delhi, but during the day it's fine - as long as you're not tearing down the road in an open autorickwhaw with the wind stripping the heat from you. Interpretation - I'm heading for Goa tomorrow morning. For the first time in India have decided to fly to a destination - just get me someplace warm!! Had a good day, doing some touring around. The photos are of the Qutab Minar in south Delhi - Muslim ruler statements on mine's bigger than yours? This is one tall minaret, with the first major mosque in India built right next to it - composed of pillars and wall materials taken from Hindu shrines and temples that were destroyed as the conquerors swept down into Hindu Delhi. It's bizarre to see a hall of the beautifully carved Hindu pillars, with any representation of a person, animal or god chiseled off (not allowed in Islam). The food's been really good (Indian and western - had a fabulous 'chicken stroganoff' with mushrooms on rice tonight), and the pollution that seemed to weigh this place down when I first arrived has dissapated. Given that all the taxis, autorickshaws and buses were forced to switch to natural gas a couple of years ago, it seems better than five years ago, even though there's quite an increase in cars. Even many of these have switched to 'CNG'. Anyway, Goa, here I come!

Saturday January 7, 2006 - 09:10am (PST)

Agonda, Goa - Entry for January 11, 2006 - part 1

Back in paradise.
After some awful cold, I decided to head south to Goa. On the way (I flew - first time on a flight in India) met an English couple who told me to avoid the old paradise from 11 years ago (Palolem, which is now just a massive strip of tourist accomodation and shops) and go to a real quite and beautiful place up the coast- Agonda. And man, were they so right! It is just beautiful here, and I'm staying in an elevated hut looking out over the beach. A number of places to stay on the beach and a few restaurants,but absolutely worlds away from the meat market of Palolem. VERY quiet, no hassles, very genuinely friendly people, and good food. All I can hear at night (and pretty much all day) is just the sound of the waves breaking on the shore (all you can hear in Palolem - which is where I've come to do this blog - is cars, touts and music). Been clearing up the lungs from Delhi, and my poor English friends have just finally recovered from the serious 'Delhi-belly' they got in ... Delhi, so things are fine. Only wish Anne was here - she'd really like it. I'm learning how to ride a motor scooter, as it's the best way to get around on to the small roads to other areas. I'll leave here eventually, but not thinking about that right now.

The next few pics are from around Agonda (a small Christian fishing village).

Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 10:53pm (PST)

Entry for January 11, 2006 - part 2

My first stop in Agonda, with friends Nick & Sam, after the flight from Delhi.

Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 10:55pm (PST)

Entry for January 11, 2006 - part 3

It surely did feel good to be out of the north!

Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 10:56pm (PST)

Entry for January 11, 2006 - part 4

A view of the rocky southern part of the beach at Agonda. My guest house ('The Secret Garden') is on the north part of the beach.

Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 10:58pm (PST)

Entry for January 11, 2006 - part 5

My host, Godwin, and Welson (sp?), his oldest son.

Wednesday January 11, 2006 - 11:01pm (PST)

Entry for January 20, 2006 - Part 1

My beach hut....mmmm. About 2.5 meters above the ground, view from my porch over the beach and the sunsets, nice bed with mossy net and overhead fan; the 'Secret Garden' guest house a pretty quiet place. Been here longer than I expected, but not too worried about it.

Friday January 20, 2006 - 02:52am (PST)

Entry for January 20, 2006 - Part two

Oops... Had already posted the picture of my beach hut. This is me and my English friend Nick, waiting at the post office in a nearby town. Sam, his main squeeze, took the picture while waiting to get her package posted - always try to figure out something to do while waiting for 'officials'. They came down on a motorcycle while I'm driving a scooter (crazy to learn how to do such a thing while in India!)

Friday January 20, 2006 - 02:56am (PST)

Entry for January 20, 2006 - Part three

A quick pic of women planting rice. Goes on all year, and the planting is by hand by women, while the men use bullocks or 'walking tractors' to prep the fields. Figures, just like on roadwork you always see women slinging the rocks while men direct.

Friday January 20, 2006 - 02:59am (PST)

Entry for January 20, 2006 - Part 4

A woman walking down 'my' beach at Agonda in the morning. This is definitely a good place to chill (though the temperature does go down to the upper 60's/low 70's at night, and the upper 80's/low 90's in the day. Apparently in the summer it is.... well... hot!

Friday January 20, 2006 - 03:03am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 1

My friend Walter from Austria shows up in Agonda. First priority! - get some water and pakhoras at a beachside restaurant.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:34am (PST)

Margao, Goa, India - Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 2

Ladies selling some stuff outside the market at Margao, about an hours ride from Agonda. 'Biggish' city, but small for Indian standards, with a great enclosed market. Much hotter than near the coast - you arrive, you break out in a sweat. But they do have a bakery with dutch chocolate and black forest cakes!

I've had to spend time in Margao, as when I arrived from Delhi I brought a bad chest cold with me. Whether from that or not, I ended up with a tear inside my eye, with had to be repaired before I could fly. Went to the best eye surgeon in Goa and ended up with laser surgery to fix it. Has worked out just fine, thank goodness, and feel way better.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:40am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 3

One of the many mountains of chillies inside the Margao market.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:42am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 4

Strings of Goan sausages at the Margao market - very much like portugese sausages. Maybe not for the squeamish once you see that the meat going in to them sits out unrefrigerated.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:45am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 5

A little girl and her grandfather reading and sitting out in front of her Dad's store, later in the evening in the cool (in Margao). Almost every shop (and every govt office and bank) closes from 1:30/2:00 to 4:00 in the hottest part of the day, then opens and stays open till 8 or 9 pm.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:48am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 6

Friends Jai and Christie (and Walter) from Kamloops. They're traveling around a bit of India with their 20 and 18 year old boys, so came down to Agonda from the beach they're staying at for the afternoon to let the boys have some time to themselves (and of course visit with Walter and me). A two hour drive each way for them but it was really nice to be able to connect with them.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 01:53am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 7

Me, Godwin and Weston, his son, at sunset the day before he headed out for an 8 month stint on an oil tanker starting at Suez. Pretty rough to leave his wife and two kids, but in a couple of years they'll have enough to have outfitted themselves quite nicely. His whole family for generations has been in the merchant marine, so they're quite a bit more knowledgeable of the 'outside world' than most. Really wonderful and kind people here, who will quickly take you under their wings and make sure things are ok. When I told Godwin I was having eye trouble, he wouldn't let me go see a local doctor and drove me immediately to the number one eye surgeon in Goa to have it checked out - nothing wanted, nothing asked for, 'his duty as a human being'. Very honestly religious people, who put compassion as number one. Sad for the guests to see him go, and tough on his family (the day after he left their dog - Bingo - was hit by a motorcyclist and ended up with a broken leg).

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 02:00am (PST)

Entry for January 24, 2006 - Part 8

The daughter of the family where I sometimes have breakfast.

Tuesday January 24, 2006 - 02:24am (PST)

Entry for January 27, 2006 - Part 1

Today's lunch at a little corner store/restaurant. A vegetable thali is usually a good bet - healthy with a variety of veg curries, cheap and available most anywhere. Nice to see what the local vegatables are, too - more than just potatoes and cauliflower.

Friday January 27, 2006 - 02:17am (PST)

Entry for January 27, 2006 - Part 2

A Hindu holy man going from village to village doing blessings and ritual cleansings on the side of the street (a little tough when the 'street' is 7-feet wide, and cars have to get past). The village of Agonda, like most Goan places, is Catholic, but as the economy has been heating up more Hindus from other parts of India have been moving in.

Friday January 27, 2006 - 02:20am (PST)

Entry for January 27, 2006 - Part 3

Sunset over local rice fields near (ugh) Palolem.

Friday January 27, 2006 - 02:21am (PST)

Entry for January 27, 2006 - Part 4

Fisherman's outrigger boat at the south end of Agonda beach. As the fishing has become more 'rationalized', there have been clashes between the traditional fisherman in these small boats and the more modern diesal boats, which will quite often come in to the bays that the small boats can only have access to.

Friday January 27, 2006 - 02:24am (PST)

Entry for January 29, 2006 - Part 1

A pic of a couple of ladies getting fish from the fishermen first thing in the morning on Agonda beach.

Sunday January 29, 2006 - 10:31pm (PST)

Entry for January 30, 2006 - Part 2

One of the small 'dry goods' stores on the main 'road' (read: dirt track) in Agonda. Everything from washing soap to sodas to toilet paper to combs.....

Sunday January 29, 2006 - 10:33pm (PST

Entry for January 30, 2006 - Part 3

The gas tank of a quite beautiful Royal Enfield motorcycle. Got to learn to ride a motorcycle and get one of these beauties. They're only a couple thousand (Canadian) plus transport & import taxes. Nice big old English bike, made in India.

Sunday January 29, 2006 - 10:37pm (PST)

Gokarna, Karnataka, India - Entry for January 30, 2006 - Part 4

Shiva lingams along a wall in Gokarna, just across the border in Karnataka.

Sunday January 29, 2006 - 10:38pm

Entry for January 30, 2006 - Part 5

Fellow in Gokarna looking out his front door, with a small Shiva 'temple' on his front porch.

Sunday January 29, 2006 - 10:40pm (PST

Entry for February 01, 2006 - Part 1

Dave and Gertie the pregnant pig. Godwin, the guest house owner is not real happy to have a barnyard (pig, chickens, dog and cats) but his mom, who lives with him, is.... so they stay. Gertie the pregnant pig is a very suspicious pig... unless you give her food, which makes you her friend

Entry for February 01, 2006 - Part 2

Ah.... the view of the main 'road' that runs in front of my guest house. The only problem is that all the ground is red soil, so everything gets an orange tinge to it (including your feet, of course). It's just lovely to live among the coconut palms.

Wednesday February 1, 2006 - 08:51am (PST)

Entry for February 01, 2006 - Part 3

A couple of the local Agonda girls, out to get water. Most of the houses have wells or are connected to a public system, but some use the common spigots spread out through the village.

Wednesday February 1, 2006 - 08:54am (PST)

Entry for February 01, 2006 - Part 4

A mattress seller wandering through the village. They have a number of people that sell stuff too large for the little stores in the village - walking dry-goods stores, stock on their heads.

Wednesday February 1, 2006 - 08:56am (PST)

Entry for February 01, 2006 - Part 5

Back in Delhi! Street in my normal haunt - Pahar Ganj. Bummer, but it's really not too bad.. except for the noise, pollution, and number of people wanting your attention and business. All psyched up for the flight home tomorrow night (well, 1:30am on the 31st). Going to take it easy, hassle the hustlers, eat lots (like I haven't been) and head out.

End of a very strange trip - lots of unexpected twists and turns, but lots of encounters with good and kind people, both local and foreign. The contact with people has really been the high point, as I figure is the way it should be. May not have enjoyed being ill, but it certainly kept me in a wonderful place, in touch with some wonderful people.

Wednesday February 1, 2006 - 09:03am (PST)

Entry for February 02, 2006 - Last day

End of the trip. Last day/eve in Delhi. Good experience as a send off - a big wedding going by in the street, with groom on horse and elephant leading the celebration. This pic is of a woman blessing the groom from behind as he went along the alley and street.
Thursday February 2, 2006 - 07:24am (PST)

Entry for February 02, 2006 - Last day, 2

A poor photo of a wonderful old female elephant, waiting in the street for the wedding party. They always bring out a warm and fuzzy feeling in me - they are such magnificant, grand animals.

Bye to India.

Thursday February 2, 2006 - 07:26am (PST)

Entry for February 03, 2006 - Home again

Man, what a long journey. It took 31 hours of travel time (from takeoff in Delhi to landing in Victoria), and about 24 hours flying time to get back, not counting hotel to airport (+ waiting) and driving home. Felt good to see Anne & Luc waiting for me (there was no room for Jake in the car). It was pretty grueling, and being a 12.5 hours time difference I'm sure it will take me a few days (at least) to get my head back in to Pacific time). I was worried leaving Delhi, as there was an airport workers strike happening, but fortunately at that time it was only the maintanence staff - toilets not cleaned and piles and piles of rubbish around (not to be cruel, but is that so different?).
I was happy I went, unhappy to not be with the family; unhappy about the physical problems, but quite happy to meet such good and generous people who helped me; happy to have experienced such an absolutely beautiful place with absolutely perfect weather, but still felt like I was ready to just start doing my India thing (only did 27 rolls of film, 5 rolls of video, and about 600 meg of digital pics - much too modest). Saw lots I was happy to see; knew about tons of more stuff I could have experienced (and photo'd) if I wasn't trying to be so careful with my eye (and cough before).
Next time.