9.22.2010

Staring is Caring (and Other Randoms)

Vegetarian Thali, Gokarna
St Sebastian Church, Panjim
- From what we have heard, India is 40 percent Muslim, 50 percent Hindu and 10 percent other. Our first stop was Goa, which was a formal Portuguese colony, so there are many churches. They are all is such bad disrepair. It is like being at a Roman ruins, except everything is moldy. Here is a photo of one, to show you. They could be so beautiful, but they just aren’t kept up very well.

- In the south, I didn’t notice this, but as we started to travel north, I am all of a sudden the victim of an intense staring phenomenon. In Egypt, the men stared a lot, and made comments, hisses and whistles. In India, they just STARE. And STARE and STARE. And it is not just the men! The children do it, although this is more understandable. You’re first time seeing a non-Indian, especially when they are WHITE and BLOND, must be a little weird. The women do it, but they are a bit less obvious about it. But the men actually just stand there and gawk. We were on the train and there are open windows with bars, and they would crowd around the windows on the outside of the train and stare at me sitting in the inside. Like 4 or 5 or 9 of them all huddled around the window staring! Talk about feeling uncomfortable. And what do you do? Do you stare back? Do you scowl or growl at them? Do you ignore them? I take option 3, but it doesn’t really work very well. It doesn’t help that Mr. Lovely has a HUGE beard. So we are both freak shows now.

- We had a really great day yesterday exploring the spice markets, cemeteries and lakes in Udaipur. The good thing about India is when the rickshaw picks you up at the train station and asks you what you plan on doing the next day and you say I don’t know, he says, “I can take you around the city.” You think -- whoa, private ride and guide, must be a fortune. But no. For about 8 dollars, this guy took us both around to a bunch of different places and waited as we looked at them or had lunch or whatever. When we said we wanted to have dinner, he said, “what time will you be done?” Then he picked us up at 11 pm and took us back to our hotel. I could get used to this. Usually we just take the bus. What a luxury!

- We usually don’t get any TV in our rooms, but sometimes we do and we need to relax a bit we end up watching the crappiest shows that I would never voluntarily watch normally. But when you just want to relax and watch dumb TV, that is really literally what you do sometimes. There really only is DUMB TV. Usually there are only a couple of channels in English. A news channel. A sports channel. If you are VERY lucky, the Discovery Channel, but that almost never happens. But when it does, its like the best thing EVER.

- The food here is delicious. I always loved Indian food. What I have realized is as much as everyone said this would NOT be the case, the food I have gotten in San Francisco is very much like the food I have been eating here. So to me, the Indian food at home IS the same as “real” Indian food. I have learned that Chutney, which is usually sweet in the places I have gone to at home (mango for example), can be any mixture/jelly/paste of items, sweet or savory. And Masala, which I usually eat in the form of Paneer Tikki Masala and thought meant “red sauce” is really just a mix of any spices. They call the chai spices “tea masala”, which is nutmeg, cinnamon etc. rather than curry spices like I thought of it.

- Cows wander around wherever they want. You know, Hindus consider them a god. So they wander the streets, eating trash and even walking into people’s shops or sitting in the middle of the road, but nobody is allowed to shoo them out or run them over. Mr. Lovely is going crazy, as his favorite food is beef and they don’t eat beef, since it is a god. I think it is hilarious, as it doesn’t bother me to go without beef for a month.

Anyway, sorry about the random thoughts but I couldn’t really form a complete thought today. My brain is having trouble stringing together ideas, so instead of trying, I just put all the blips down as just that.

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