Sunday, December 23, 2007

Visit to India - Part 2

I just can’t get over how life here seems to be the TOTAL opposite of things in Switzerland... at least for little things like "rules" (!) It's so weird to go from a country where you HAVE to walk between the lines or else you get fined right away, to one where there seem to be no lines at all. Literally or figuratively!

On Tuesday we did the day trip from Delhi to see the Taj Mahal – a very impressive sight...

It was beautiful. Not as huge as we all expected, but the intricateness of the jewels in the marble was very impressive. And as with Delhi it was just interesting to just drive around and see how people live, and the contrast between rich and poor...

Every minute there was something new and different to see and experience. Just the final trip to get to and from the Taj Mahal was an adventure, riding in a rickshaw...

and then having to push through the local street vendors (who always seem to surround us the moment we’re in sight).

On Wednesday we had to get up very early for our flight to Chennai. The Kingfisher Airlines is one of the best I have ever flown - such wonderful service both at the airport and on the plane, it was incredible. When we arrived in Chennai the Abrahams and Chris and Manisha were all waiting and waving for us at the airport -- Definitely a much nicer reception than when we arrived in Delhi!! It was wonderful seeing them again, and having the family connection in such a faraway place.

Our hotel was very nice and we just hung out there for a while to rest. Eventually our car arrived (late) to take us to the Abrahams' for a late dinner. (Everything runs at least an hour late in India – Yet another sharp contrast to the Swiss and their timeliness!) It took almost an hour to go the short distance, because of the traffic here -- It is the worst traffic I have ever seen. We travelled with their cousins who are also staying in a nearby hotel - one is from Australia and one from Malaysia.

We had drinks and dinner at the family’s apartment... The dinner was supposedly "without any spice" but it still seemed spicy, even to me! It was nice to have the family all together on this adventure...On Thursday the Abrahams took us shopping at a nearby "mall" area... and I bought a local outfit to wear to the wedding reception. I wanted to get a saree, but that takes many days to prepare the correct size, so instead I tried on “salwar kameez”’s, which are like a dress with pants underneath, and very decorative.

Since shopping always makes one hungry, we took a break for lunch (a late one, of course). I wanted to try more local cuisine, so my new sister-in-law ordered for me a sort of sampler plate. Lots and lots of different things – and all for the equivalent of just a couple dollars! I don’t know what all was on it, but I just dug in without asking questions. You scoop up the food with the bread and eat it all with your fingers, including the rice. (Washing hands right before and after is a definite.) Needless to say it’s a messy affair, but delicious!

The next day we just enjoyed the warm weather by hanging out at the pool – Nice to get a chance to work on the tan in December! The big event – the wedding reception – was this evening, so we wanted to be rested up. While I laid soaking in the warm sunshine and enjoying the cool breeze, I felt very appreciative again... as I looked around at how nice our surroundings were at the hotel, you could hear all the horns blowing on the other side of the fence from the horrible traffic and know that people are having a much harder life just living day to day.

The wedding reception was really nice – There were over 500 guests, and we felt like sort of guests of honor being the groom’s family from “so far away”. Here's me and the happy couple...

Everyone was dressed to the hilt in all the different beautiful colors of sarees...

and the food was incredibly delicious. It will make going to an “Indian” restaurant anywhere else in the world pale by comparison!

The next day our new “in-laws” took us to a beach area outside Chennai, as well as to visit a temple and a crocodile farm. I can’t emphasize enough how nice it was to have their support there to show us around and help us with everything. I had to leave to fly back home the following night and was sad to have to go. I was genuinely appreciative to have had the opportunity to experience so much in such a short trip. It is definitely a life-altering event to visit a third world country, so if you ever have the opportunity I would suggest taking it.

ChekolaChekola (that's Cheers, at least according to one of our Indian drivers!),
Becky

3 comments:

i8chocolate said...

Wow! What an incredible experience. And dang,you look fantabulous in that dress! Can I borrow it sometime?

Anonymous said...

Great Stuff!! Thanks for doing this! I printed it out for posterity and to help my memory.

Dad

Sandy & Dick said...

Love all the colorful outfits! It was great reading about India through your eyes. So glad your parents could experience this with you. Life is good...hugs, Sandy