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HomeAboutPhotosContactArchive for January, 2006 DCA JFK AMS DEL JAI BOM DXB (or, I go to India) Posted in Personal, Travel by MB

Irecently had an opportunity to take a hastily-planned trip to India(among other places) over the past few weeks. Im back now, and haveuploaded some of the pictures I snapped along the way, if anyone isinterested. You can find them here.Starting in Delhi, I did the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, andJaipur. My time in Delhi was spent mostly in Old Delhi, around theChandni Chowk and Jama Masid. Chandni ChowkAmongthe many things I learned is where all of our old college textbookswent to die, that street cooked dosas are most excellent, and that Ishould never ever complain about DC traffic again. The hotel was the Fatehpur Sikri. The once and brief capital of the mughal empire, the palace was a very interesting manifestation of Emperor Akbarsopenness to the major faiths (tho one wonders whether this was theresult or the cause of his having wives from each of them). Driving inand out of here, I experienced the rather unexpected phenomena ofwould-be guides actually jumping in front of the car to get us to stopand hire them as a guide. You just ran down my car, scaring me half todeath, and now you want me to pay you to spend time with me” Sure.

Many (many) hours later, I ended the day in Jaipur,the pink city (the result of a promotional hospitality effort thatslasted nearly 100 years now . . .). After congested Delhi, and hazyAgra, Jaipur was literally a breath of fresh air (this despite many ofthe streets being full of elephants). My guide here, Khiraz, was aremarkably overeducated fellow with a love for Jaipur that wasinfectious. Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace), Jaipur, IndiaHewas also curiously into astrology, which set off a rambling debate thattook place between seeing the sights of the Hawa Mahal (nifty), JalMahal (its good to be king – build the palace and then flood thevalley – just because you can!), and catching a glimpse of Bollywoodstar Aishwarya Rai shortly after she filmed a segment nearby (an excitement that was completely lost on me, Im afraid).

Home base in Jaipur was Alsisar Haveli,which I recommend to anyone passing through in the future. Its a verynicely converted heritage property. If youre feeling spendy, stay at Rambagh Palace.I spent my last afternoon there, sitting under a lazily spinning fan ona terrace overlooking the polo fields, martini in hand. Could have donethat for a week.

I left Jaipur for Mumbai on Jet Airways.Jet Airways, on this flight at least, put most US domestic carriers toshame. Quick seating, plenty of room, and a hot meal, all for a 90minute flight at a reasonable price. And speaking of 90 minutes, 88 ofthem were taken up by the woman sitting to my right. She and herdaughter had just come back from a couple of weeks in Pushkar. She wasonly a couple of years older than me, and the conversation started outvery well. It morphed, however, into her telling me how, in 2011,something was going to happen to the world where everyone gave theirmaterial possessions away and everyone would live on love. That and theUS was a hateful place that should be abandoned. These were the reasonsshe gave in trying to convince me that I should go to Nepal andmeditate for a couple of months instead of heading back to DC. Justtrust that things would turn out okay, she said. A bit of googling onceId arrived in Mumbai revealed her trust-fund kid status. Dad foundedone of the biggest private equity firms around. Still, she seemed adecent, if not entirely well grounded, person, and the thought of acouple of months in Nepal did appeal. But as you can see, Im here now.For the time being, anyway.

But back to India. Specifically, Mumbai. Or is it Bombay” Ive notdecided where I stand on the matter, yet. I wasnt in Mumbai long. Justenough to poke around a bit, checking out Colaba, Chowpatty Beach, andthe markets in the Fort and Churchgate areas. One unexpected pleasurewas getting into the High Court,situated in a massive Victorian-era stone building complex (where,according to the Lonely Planet book, one of the high-up carvings is ofa one-eyed monkey holding the scales of justice). After assuring the 17security guards that stopped me (only white guy in the entire building)that I would not take any pictures, I found a few interestingcourtrooms, and listened to a contract dispute case, an appeal of azoning fine, and some criminal motions (by far the most amusing)). Onthe way out, I got of a glimpse of the public defenders office. It wasstraight out of Dickens. I am fairly sure that some of the open casefiles in there involved prosecutions brought on behalf of QueenVictoria.

After all this travel, Mumbai was the first place where Id managedto work up some blisters, so at the end of the day, I just wanted tosit down and have a drink. Taking a friends recommendation, Id bookeda late table at Indigo. This is Indigo.Now, I give this link to point out that Im not heading to some shabeenin a basement. I get there, sit down, and order my standard. Martini,Grey Goose, up with a twist. Very nice wait staff whisks away with myorder. And a few minutes later another waiter comes up. Turns out hesthe bartender.

You want a martini”

Yes, Grey Goose, please.

No no. Too expensive.


Grey Goose. Too expensive for martini.

Youre kidding, right”

Stolichnya, instead.

Umm, no. Seriously. I dont care how much it is.

Too expensive.

Dude. (I am embarrassed at the use of the word dude, but Im alittle surprised that I am having to fight to pay them too much moneyfor a drink) Are you really telling me you wont let me buy a GreyGoose martini” Just make me a martini with Grey Goose. I do not carehow much it is.He looks at me as if I just asked for the golden fleece to use as a napkin. I get my martini. Properly made. It is $12.


The next day, I fly to Dubai. Highlights from there (one of the bestbar views in the world, construction sites creating a distopiananime-looking world, and underemployed Russian hookers) and pointsfurther in a future entry. I should probably devote some time andenergy to making a living for a little while, now.

2 comments See also in Personal, Travel January 16th, 2006 Moving Posted in Travel by MB

comments See also in Travel January 14th, 2006 Still moving . . . Posted in Society, Travel by MB

just in a different world.

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