I awakened feeling surprisingly well-rested at 6:00 am after a grueling 20 hour day of traveling. I still find it amazing that you can shave almost a day off of your life simply sitting on a plane and chasing the sun. I arrived in Delhi late last evening, crashed, and have spent most of the morning getting back in contact with the world at large.
I took some of the extra time I had this morning to roam around the hotel. It’s quite nice, with a rooftop restaurant and pool, small fitness center, and spa. Relatively similar to any upscale hotel you would encounter in any major city. Stepping out onto the rooftop lounge I surveyed the land.
Truth be told, there isn’t much to see. Where I’m staying in Noida looks much like the urban sprawl of Athens, complete with the ever-present smog haze. There are hundreds of squat two story buildings as far as the eye can see; which isn’t far due to the aforementioned smog. I’m always bewildered when people from America complain about how polluted our air is; that is how I know I’m speaking with someone who has never been outside the United States. Indeed, Athens, Delhi and cities of similar size in the old world make Los Angeles look like the poster child for the EPA.
It’s off to the office here shortly, which I’m sure will make the rest of my day feel a lot like home.
Work wrapped up slightly early today as the jetlag caught up. Under the advice of a resident co-worker, I elected not to take a nap but rather walk around the neighborhood of the hotel, and see what there was to see.
Noida is a residential suburb of Delhi. Most of the buildings surround the hotel I was staying at were single of multi family homes. These are build right on top of each other, in the way that inner city homes tend to be constructed in America. That is where the similarity ends. In India they are almost all brightly painted, bearing religious symbols, intricate designs, and shiny gates. Later I would ask the hotel attendant what the relative age of the homes was, and was shocked to find that most have only been constructed in the past five to ten years.
I ambled through a nearby park, treading the same brick paths the locals were. Old men smoked marijuana cigarettes and played cards in the grass, while women strolled in pairs, but still for some reason on their cellphones. The dichotomy in gold-trimmed saris and pink cellphones does not elude me. Children, who seem to outnumber adults 100 to 1, played cricket in the fields. By the time I headed back to the hotel I spotted at least 8 separate games being played.
In my wanderings I noticed that there were dozens of people walking with aluminum canisters. I wasn’t really sure what they were for until I came upon the Mother’s Dairy stand. Apparently the way to get milk in India is to walk to your local dispenser. I wonder if it’s pasteurized?
There are dogs everywhere. I’ve seen herds of cattle wandering the streets, and the occasional mottled white brahman cow munching on some grass by the side of the road, but there are more dogs than anything. Most of them are pregnant. None of them seem to belong to anyone. The dogs in the picture are all very much alive, but I was later treated to my first unpleasant experience in the East when I wandered past a young mutt who had obviously died very recently, as a pack mate was trying in vain to nudge him to his feet. It was terrible.
I rolled back through the park to watch a few cricket matches, then headed back to the hotel. I am probably not going to make it long this evening, but will try to stay up so that tomorrow won’t be unpleasant.
Dinner was at the Great Kebab Factory. It was a lot of food. I got to try Kulfi, which was fantastic, as well as a killer pistachio ice cream. The kebabs were excellent as well. Highly recommended. The food has been amazing so far, and I assume I will gain at least 5 pounds. Today.