Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Few Days in India

So we've been off on our own now for a couple of days.

Delhi is fascinating but tiring. Everything seems like a struggle, and my dreams are haunted by hordes of baying rickshaw drivers, beggars, shopkeepers. The intensity can be fun (there's nothing more fun and terrifying than an autorickshaw), but it gets overwhelming. I like watching what translation does to pop culture. Sitting in the hotel room watching MTV India. Biting into a McVeggie in a packed, beefless McDonalds while "Papa Don't Preach" works its way out of the small speakers and around the room.

Our bed space at the wonderful Shangri-La hotel keeps shrinking. MS hooked us up with an extra day (you know who you are, best ADE in the world), and we splurged on the fourth. We started with 4 rooms and 4 kings; 2 sleepers per king for the extra MS day; and finally a cozy 4 the night before we caught our early morning train to Haridwar. The Shangri-La is a strange island of wealth (and expense). A club sandwich is about $12 CDN, and internet is $10/hr. Our 4-hour train ride from Delhi to Haridwar was $8, and I'm writing now for $1/hr. But they had nice showers.

Haridwar is good. It's less tiring. No one hassles you in the market, and all it takes is a quick shake of the head to ward off rickshaw drivers. Also, being a holy Hindu city, it's entirely vegetarian (I love this country). Meg is still getting oogled all over the place. We were walking down by the banks of the ganges, in town where stone steps allow for bathing. I was walking 15m behind her, watching people crane their necks as she passed, awkwardly bumping into things as they walked with their heads twisted around. One man, accompanied by a woman who seemed to be his wife, had no qualms about following Meg with a long, longing look after they passed.

We're going to head up to Rishikesh tomorrow. It's supposed to a fair bit more touristy than Haridwar, so hopefully that means "tourism is embraced" instead of "tourists get screwed". We'll see.

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