GURGAON, INDIA
Jun 1 - Melting in Gurgaon

I just arrived from the UK to India--it’s quite a difference. The heat in Delhi / Gurgaon is reaching to 45 and with the strong wind, it just feels like a giant hairdryer trying to melt me into a pool of guts. Walking home from the office at night, the car lights shine through a dusty haze—it’s very surreal, something you would use dry ice or some special effects to see in Canada. The cars and motorcycles are driving crazy, I’ve gone down the wrong way of a street in a taxi several times without hesitation. Honking is used to say “piss off”, “move over”, or maybe just an amicable “howdy neighbour”—who knows, it’s just constant honking. There are corners and walls that smell like 100 years of piss and I frequently see guys non-chalantly turning their backs to a giant crowd of people and whipping it out and doing their business. Hello India, long time no see—I’m back!

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lantern shop

 


GURGAON, INDIA
Jun 1 - Kingdom of Dreams

I went and saw a real life Bollywood show today, Zangoora--there's a Vegas-like place called Kingdom of Dreams near to my hotel in Gurgaon. It reminded me of Vegas because of the over-the-top buildings and sculptures you can find in a place like that--the images from the header above come from architecture around the Kingdom of Dreams.

I bought show tickets at the door, went to Culture Gully for a sampling of food from around India, and then sat down with the hefty crowd in the theatre. The show was super interesting. They screamed at each other in Hindi throughout the show, with no subtitles I had no clue what they were saying and couldn't follow the plot. But the dancing was excellent, with a ton of people dancing all over the stage and in the seats. So fun!

kingdom of dreams
main theatre
culture gully

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DELHI, INDIA
Jun 3 - Fantastic Gods and Where to Find Them

If I had to worship a god, it would definitely be Ganesh. Who wouldn’t? He has the head of an elephant with a crazy story to match—he was mistaken for a stranger by his own dad who then proceeded to decapitate him. Which resulted in the need for the new elephant head. I guess it’s just as crazy a story as transmutating bread and water and resurrection, but so much more interesting.

Hindus are cool—they worship every god, millions of them. I see them go from Ganesha, to Vishnu, to Jesus, to Mary, to whoever. And if they run out of gods, they start worshipping cows. I think they have the right idea. If you don’t know who is the real god, just say all of them are real and worship all of them! Then you’re guaranteed not to go to hell.

gods
ecological ganesh
cows on the street

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MUMBAI, INDIA
Jun 8 - Big Thanks to Technology!

India has really become so much easier to visit since I was here last in 2013. Technology has changed the world here. The moment I stepped off the plane in Delhi, I found a Vodafone kiosk within minutes and in another 5 minutes I had a new sim card with 1GB of data. Last time I was here, I couldn’t get a sim card without giving up my first born and then waiting a few days. Thanks Vodafone!!

For me, the saviour was Google Maps and Uber. Wow, what a difference a few years makes. I felt like I could wander anywhere in the city and not worry about getting lost. I explored so much more of the city, walked through chaotic local markets, alleyways with almost insignificant Ganesh temples (still marked on Google Maps), local restaurants mostly clean and popular with the locals. Thanks Google!!

Uber is a godsend here. My last trip to India, I dreaded the moment I needed a cab because it would mean I would need to use all my powers of Charades to explain to the driver where to go, and then I would need to negotiate on a price of which I would have no clue where to start or end. Now I don’t even have to talk to the driver in Hindi (not that I could) and I get to my destination and just get out of the car, with everything already paid and settled. I have gone everywhere with Uber—it has made the trip easier than ever. Thanks Uber!!

Paying for everyone just needed a credit card. Even paying $1 for something in a random store could be done with credit card. I took out too much cash really, it’s just not needed in today’s India. Thanks Visa and Amex!! Everyone has so much technology in the palm of their hands.

Walking around the city, everyone is now linked in through their cell phones—nowadays, only the most destitute are unable to take selfies of themselves. What a great world, thanks technology!!

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UBER IN INDIA
Although Uber's services are well built and everything works well, sometimes I can't say as much for the drivers. It took a few times before I figured out that the drivers don't really pick you up from where you ask to be picked up. They will go somewhere close and then park and wait for you. They don't really care if you are going from the hotel to the airport and have luggage, they'll wait and if you don't show up--they'll cancel the ride and you'll get charged. You'll also get drivers accepting the fare when they're not really close to you--I guess that's Uber's fault for offering it to them in the first place. You can cancel in the first 5 minutes, but if you do it too many times like I did, you get shut out for a period of time.


MYSURU, INDIA
Jun 25 - A Fun Pilgrimage

Today I went to climb Chamundi Hill to reach a Hindu temple. I arrived at the gateway at the bottom of the stairs to not much fanfare—a few locals crowded the bottom, some taking selfies of themselves before the long climb, others selling religious paraphernalia. At the bottom of the stairs a group of ladies were burning something in a pile of coloured powder—each taking turns putting a coloured dot on their foreheads. As I passed them and started up the stairs, I noticed every step has powdered markings and flowers left by climbers from earlier that day. It was quite a sign of devotion seeing people stopping at every to mark it with powder and say a quick prayer.

It was a nice climb—over 1000 steps, passing by small shrines, vistas of Mysuru below, and other climbers—some sweating a smell of jackfruit and curry. Thank goodness for Bangalore’s mild weather, I wasn’t melting myself, although who knows—maybe it was me that smelled of jackfruit and curry. About halfway up, I reached a black bull covered in flowers with groups of people, taking a sip of water, dripping it over their head, and then getting more dots on their head from the holy man standing in front of the bull.

At the top was the madness of thousands of worshippers, breaking coconuts, burning fires, and buying bracelets including more dots on their wrists. The temple was fantastic, in gold and white. Hundreds of people packed into the entrances and there was no way I was going to join them. It was a great day with so much to see and experience. But for me, it was a fake pilgrimage—something to enjoy the day. For them, it was a day to be covered with dots and doing something meaningful in their lives.

chamundi hill
the climb up chamundi hill
the black bull
view from chamundi hill
hindu worshippers
queue for the temple
guy with snake
enjoying coconut

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BANGALORE, INDIA
Jun 28 - Leaving India

So that wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. No uncomfortable sickness. No struggling to get to a client office. Nice clients. Comfortable hotels. Tasty food. Cheap jackfruit on the street. Delicious alfonso mangoes in season. It feels like the cities are cleaner than before. Technology has made life so much easier here. Worst thing is the traffic.

So maybe next time I won't feel so worried going to India. Maybe even Felipe could come...

chhatrapati shivaji maharaj terminus, mumbai
market near clock tower, mysuru
street mysuru
chikka gadiyara clock tower
dosas for breakfast
jackfruit on the street
colourful shoes
thali special at MTR mavalli tiffin rooms, bengaluru
street mumbai
cow on the street, bengaluru
bollywood posters, delhi
delhi art

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BANGALORE, INDIA
Jun 29 - And the 2017 Bollywood Awards Go To...

I've been watching a lot of Bollywood video. Like lots. Here are my favourites for this year:

Nice feel good song. Although I have no clue what they're singing, I feel good!:

This one makes me want to travel more:

Ok maybe these ones aren't for the song. Sushant Singh. Wow!:

That's it for this year's awards. Until next time!

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