Feeling: FRESH & OH SO WORDY
So I left Rishikesh, encased in a taxi for six-point-five hours on track to Delhi. As explained in the previous post Aunty-but-more-like-cousin-sister Jess, her and Uncle Jamie’s kids Eli and Lucas and Jess’ parents Keith and Janet were flying back there and had booked us a hotel for two nights.
Mid road trip my driver pulled into a pitstop and announced he was going to have a tea break. “Take the keys,” he said. “In case you want to come back to the car before me.”
I laughed at the thought I could very well just take said keys, insert them into ignition and leave him for dust (if I knew how to drive a manual, that is).
After an insane Delhi traffic jam I arrived at the Pride Plaza Hotel, and I have to say I was greatly ecstatic to discover it was somewhat luxurious and would give me a proper, hot-watered shower. I met up with the family, we set up for slumber, and then awakened to explore the next morning.
We had a full day dancing about Delhi, heading to a massive mall for them to do some last minute shopping. You see, Jess and the gang were booked to head home to Australia the following day, so they had a fair few rupees to rid of.
That afternoon Uncle Jamie flew in from Jaipur (his piloting base) and rather than head into the city centre to a steakhouse for dinner as planned, we ordered room service and hung out in 631. (Wouldn’t have had it any other way).
The next morning was a whirlwind airport run (all of us crammed into one single taxi, me in the front on Jamie’s lap – lots of incestuous jokes being chucked around, that’s for sure). As the flight to Sydney was showing as full, it was up in the air (or not, as the case actually was) as to whether Jess and the kids would be put aboard (staff travel, you see). It came down to forty minutes before it flew, a no-show passenger and the green light given that we were sure they would be home bound.
From there, Uncle Jamie and I hung about for a bit before boarding our own flight to Jaipur.
And it has been absolute bliss. The last four days have seen me purely doing yoga, hitting the gym, going for little roams and – the main majority of my day – getting back into writing my book.
I had been a little concerned I would not be in the right mind frame; after a year-and-a-half away from it, I was worried about getting back into that world. But upon opening my lappy at Delhi airport to read over the first few chapters, I realised with utmost clarity that I was ready to get back into it.
Moreover, I was excited.
Seedless Green Grapes is finally on the finishing road.
And it’s been awesome to spend time with Uncle Jamie. He’s been working while here, so flies on an overnight two days to one off, but when he’s here we’ve been hitting the gym together and exploring a bit; we literally just got back from traipsing round some upper class suburb roads and uncovering a supermarket, two really nice cafes and a gift pack make up shop (“I might start buying birthday presents now,” Jamie said as he awed over the intricately designed boxes withholding candied almonds, crystallised fruits and cookies of all combinations).
A few things of note:
1. The poverty here is oh so real and at your doorstep. Or door, as it so is. When stopping at lights in a car in the main cities, you suddenly get surrounded by young kids, hands outstretched and then put to mouth in begging for money.
And I say money, not food, because they aren’t actually after edibles. Jamie told me how when he first got here he used to carry around water bottles and biscuits and hand them to the “homeless”, but they would dismiss them and instead ask for rupees.
You see, begging is a big business in India. What may appear to be a kid desperate for food is often actually a hired child whose takings go into the pocket of an adult big boss around the corner.
In the main cities especially, there’s a lot more to it than meets the seeing eye.
2. Keeping in line with poority, there is an insane disparity in India between the affluent and impoverished. It honestly makes New Zealand look completely egalitarian.
I mean, round one corner is a women with two boys sleeping on the side of the road. Cross the street, go down 100m, and there’s a car park showcasing a Range Rover and Maserati side by side, owners inside an upmarket restaurant eating a 1000rupee meal apiece.
I actually struggle to comprehend it.
The poverty, the litter, the dirtiness and dust; it’s something you truly can’t convey in words. You really have to see it to believe it’s real.
3. I was astounded on roaming around Delhi and again here in Jaipur the staunchness on security. There are scanners to get into the hotels, into malls, with pat downs for men and metal detectors whizzed over women. Cars pulling up to staying places have their boots and bonnets checked before admittance, and guards loiter about the end of driveways, the tops of them and at the entry and exit doors.
On asking if danger was really that predominant, I was told it’s more a case of creating jobs wherever they can be made. Jamie said at dispatch at the airport, there are two people purely to photocopy at all hours. When I left a store after buying some socks the other day there were three people stationed at one door, ready to check my receipt against my purchase and give it a stamp. For no other reason than just that.
And there is always an overabundance of staff wherever you go! Here at the hotel there are always ten – at the very least – saried women and suited up men at the desk, with ten more in the dining hall to serve and no doubt ten more chefs in the back preparing. Regardless that there may only be one person alone in the room actually eating.
But I guess with the wage cost equalling the amount that one room reservation covers, why not?
4. I was typing up “Indians” and accidentally put an H at the front. It made me ponder: why on earth are Indians not referred to as “Hindians”? Or even females – with the ever present red dot – as “Bindians”?
5. This morning Jamie handed me The Hindu Times and pointed out a page. “Have you seen that?” He asked.
It was a section showing small photos and descriptions of unidentified bodies. I mean, what?!
I’m staying in Jaipur for another four days; the next two are dedicated to SGG (with some yoga and treadmill time here and there between bouts), Saturday is set for apartment viewing with Uncle Jamie and his mate Parko (the idea is to move out of hotel living and set up a bit of a base – I’m super pumped for some Indian real estate) and then Sunday we fly back to Delhi, where I shall write some more and we shall await the arrival of my cousin Sarah next Wednesday.
So apologies – the next wee bit may only have sporadic sharing, if any at all (rather than the incessant daily). My wordings shall be being poured into book writing, rather than my blog.
But for the moment, I’m enjoying this more upmarket side of India, I must say. Freshly made sheets every day? Mummy Deb would be in her element.
Insertation: I just had to add.
Jamie and I were invited to a “cocktail party” at the 8th floor rooftop bar this evening, hosted by Jyoti – a lovely Indian lass working on reception, whom I’m pretty sure is in love with my uncle.
We decided to put in a ten minute appearance before taking leave and heading to the ground for dinner (floor, not soil, I shall clarify). We made our entrance at 7.30pm – time specified – to find we were first to arrive.
After turning down offers for beer and beverages (Jamie cannot drink 12 hours before work and he takes off at 5.55 in the a.m) the waiter final managed to talk him into a mocktail (encouraged by me, I must admit). Then Jyoti arrived, pleading us to say yes to some food. (She told me I always look, “hotty hotty” and I was greatly chuffed – I felt I was always very bedraggled as I trumped through reception in my hiking boots amongst all the glittering saris). Then another lad sort of slinked over and sat a metre away from me on the couch, and a hotel duty manager shook our hands and pretty much sat on Jyoti.
And we settled into sub awkward chat.
You see, the Indian people do not always get jokes nor sarcasm. So all Jamie’s attempts at banter usually are responded with blank expressions and a kind of, Who the fuck is this guy eye glint. The chap on my couch ended up introducing himself as an engineer for Spice Jet, and he had not an ounce of convo in him. Jyoti was a pleasant conversationalist – when not on her phone – but subjects got lost in translation very often. And the duty manager seemed intent on handing out his business cards.
It seemed it was the five of us to make up the party.
I must say, the hour we stayed was highly entertaining. Jamie and I trying to instigate chat and navigate how to continue it with dead-end answers was sure a lesson in cross-cultural communication.
At 8.27 we took our leave and escaped down for dinner, laughing as we went. Because although we get a bit awkward and stuck in stilted sentences, they genuinely appeared to have a great time and didn’t catch on to our somewhat bafflement.
I love world differences.