Thursday, July 9, 2009

holy cows, mad drivers, and overly friendly (?) cabbies

oh where to begin! there wont be any pictures for this entry because i was too chicken to pull out my camera. everyone keeps saying how dangerous this part of the world is and how easy it is to get pickpocketed. anyway, right now i am in kathmandu, nepal but i was in new delhi, india yesterday. lets see...

first impression of india: boy is it hot. well let me back track to the plane ride to india. indian babies are so adorable. but babies aside, but many of them have improper perceptions of social etiquette and work ethic (which has been confirmed by a friend). i dont want to generalize to the entire culture because that would be unfair (and i personally know many indians and think theyre the best) but i guess now from firsthand experience and from hearing stories from others, it's starting to form a picture. there is no concept of waiting in line (or queuing up as they say). i was literally standing by the airplane stall waiting my turn and literally when the door opens, someone coming from out of nowhere, jumps right in. over and over. it was ridiculous. and the guy sitting next to me was so nosy. perhaps friendly but definitely nosy. i think it was because he invaded my personal space didnt stay on his side of the armrest. and he lost my pen! and it took over an hour to get my luggage at baggage claim. that's a bit outrageous dont you think? even JFK or LGA arent like that. everyones just not very good at their work, and it takes like 10 people to do the job of 1 person. i got sent to 5 different people at the ticketing counter. ehh... ok back to where i was. india is hot. im trying to decide whether i like the 85 degree but humid taiwan better or the 105 degree dry india better. i think there was a period of time where i just didnt stop sweating. gross.

second impression of india - crazy driving. lanes are only suggestions and their red lights are only our yellow lights. it's chaotic and almost wreckless. but if you can drive here, you can drive anywhere in the world. people think new york cabbies are bad. not at all. when i was little i thought taiwan was bad - with all its motorcycles swirving in and out. then i went to brazil and thought brazil was the worst in the world. now i think india beats them all. i dont think i can ever drive here (aside from the fact that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and you drive on the left side of the street - which is super cool. i think this may be the first time ive seen right sided steering. do they have that in japan? ive visited japan before but i dont remember the cars there). anyway, traffic is bad but at the same time, impressive. i am super impressed with everyone's driving ability - to not hit anyone, to not cause an accident, to able to steer like that. incredible india they call it. i now see one aspect why india is incredible.

third impression of india - amazing food. oh my god is the food here good. but then again, when am i ever let down by food? it's super spicy but super tasty. but i keep hearing horror stories of how dirty it is here and how theres a lot of things i shouldnt eat because my stomach wont be able to handle it. i was told not to drink unbottled water (well that one i get) but also not to eat street vender food or local hole in the wall foods. i guess there's legit reasons but... boo i feel like im missing out. ooh!!! i had pomegranate for the first time. like actual pomegranate seeds, not the juice you have that come in bottles. it was... interesting. texture was like corn. tastes like pomegranate.

holy cows exist!! you know how you read about indian culture and how they believe the cow is sacred and thus cant be killed and sometimes, herds of cows roaming about can cause traffic in the streets? well it is all true. there are cows in the streets. and everywhere! i think it's super awesome.

so the place im staying at is a buddhist center located about an hour away from the international airport. so pretty far from the city city. it's a beautiful place in the countryside. really peaceful and nice. ive been told there are peacocks and monkeys that will come into our backyard. i have yet to witness such an awesome event. but there are some flaws to this place. for one, no AC. unless you're sleeping in which case they turn on the AC for your room at night. so it's pretty much hot hot hot all day. i cant stop sweating. there's like no point changing clothes because 5 minutes and the new shirt is already wet. second, the internet is bare minimum to none. i havent tried it yet but they said it's like slower than 56k dial-up modem. now that is bad. im not sure i can do that. lastly, i have to live a pretty ascetic lifestyle - waking up at 530am. lights out at 10pm. you get the picture. it's kind of gloomy, but in a way, i guess i need it (?) i need the cleansing. maybe i'll think of it as a prolonged detox period. get back in shape. read the books i havent gotten around to reading in the last 4 years. rethink my life, where it's going and what im doing with it.

i am so terrified of getting pickpocketed or having the places im staying burglarized. i do not want to lose my personal belongings at all. but i guess if it came down to it, the thieves can take everything but my passport and laptop. they can take the phone and ipod and camera and clothes and everything else. just please leave my laptop and passport!!

so right now, im in nepal in my hotel room awaiting the conference that starts tomorrow morning (we get to meet nepal's president, yay!) nepal is beautiful. like absolutely gorgeous. im in kathmandu which is in a valley surrounded by mountains. tall mountains. and the clouds are low so they cover all the mountain peaks. so gorgeous. the city itself is colorful and the people perfect. they have lovely tans and surprisingly a beautiful mixture of asian decent. theres a bit of indian, chinese, mongolian, southeast asian, even non-asian in them. so beautiful. i think i love this little country. minus the airport frenzy. so i get off the plane and exit the airport. i have no idea who's picking me up and if they got the memo or not. all i know is im attending this conference at the radisson hotel. literally the moment i step out, i get swarmed by a ton of people asking me where im going and if i need a ride and where im from and what my name is. and they got really uncomfortably close. some stood sketch-ily behind me and i thought they were gonna sneakily unzip my bag or reach into my pocket or something. i thought i was gonna get my money or passport stolen (then i would be doomed and stuck in nepal). or kidnapped and sold into slavery or prostitution. shudders. even when i said no thank you, i dont need your help someone is picking me up, they still want to know everything about me. i thought when i said "i was american" that they were gonna kidnap me and kill me, like in the movie hostel. luckily everyone spoke english (or chinese) and i found a phone and made a few phone calls. found the person that was supposed to pick me up and off we went toward the hotel. there was traffic on the road so we took detours (that didnt take us anywhere except back to where we started) but it let us see a portion of the city - which was pretty rural but so worth seeing. made me love the country even more.

everyone is so nice and polite here. the food is delicious as well. ugh, i am going to keep this food baby it seems, forever. i am here for a conference but hopefully i will have time to travel (it's looking slim but i can still pray). i really wanna see the famous stupa (google nepal stupa and you'll know which one im talking about).

3 more short things before im off to bed because i have to wake up early tomorrow. everyone is afraid of the swine flu. nepal, taiwan, india. many people wear masks in the airports and they make us read and sign all these papers. it's obnoxious. get over it! it's just a regular flu!!

my hair is obnoxiously long. i need a haircut bad but i think i will grow it out for the next 3 years. maybe barbers are hard to find in india or africa. maybe i'll get cornrows or something. ooh... many new ideas. and i want earrings. and i have a very nice tan right now but im thinking im only gonna get darker from here on out. and im getting bad skin, maybe even pimples because i sweat so much and my pore are clogged all day. my face is bad. really bad skin it's becoming. i need to stop sweating. but how...

and lastly, i thought my blood was bad back in the states because i wasnt getting as many mosquito bites as i normally get (i normally get a lot) but boy am i wrong. i have mosquito bites everywhere! and it's hideous because im allergic to the bites so they swell up big and i look like a monster. maybe i'll catch something bad - malaria, yellow fever (is the mosquito the vector for either of them?) - KNOCK ON WOOD! hope not!! omitofo pe pe pe...

ok must sleep!! write more when i have internet... whenever that is. and hopefully i'll have pictures of india and nepal to post next time. im sure 98% of you did not get this far or did only because you skipped the entire middle. lol...

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