Journey to the East

Aloft over the Atlantic

11:00 PM? - Aloft over the Atlantic, I’m en route to Delhi via Amsterdam. A 20 hour flight doesn’t make a good story, so I’ll spare you the details. There are crying babies. There is fitful and infrequent sleep. There is excessively dry air. It is exactly what a 20 hour flight should be. I occupy myself with books, games, and the aforementioned fitful and infrequent sleep. I hope that a long bout of drowsiness will set in and I will catch some shuteye before landing in Amsterdam.…

JTTE: Bleary-eyed and Hungry Over the Old Evil Empire

Bleary eyed and hungry I write this somewhere over the old Evil Empire. I had thought my mind better capable of dealing with the stresses of multi-day travel, and pictured in my head hours of reading and writing. I have spent much of this second leg fast asleep, roused only twice so far by the “bursar” (as they’re evidently called on Dutch flights), to be given a headset which I will not use, and to pick at a small meal.…

JTTE: Day One in Delhi

7:45 AM 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.

JTTE: Wednesday is Cow Day

7:05 AM I woke at 5:00 am this morning and couldn’t help but catch a quick workout, regardless of the promise to myself not to train during this trip. I argue that it will help keep the jet lag at bay. I don’t foresee a particularly eventful day: work, work, and more work. This could be a long one folks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are no updates until tomorrow.

JTTE: Making the rounds in Delhi I

Sunday March 20th 10:05 PM I found myself stumbling in my boxers to the door of our room in Delhi at 3:45 AM this morning to answer what sounded like the world’s tiniest machine gun. A boy of about 16 entered the room with a tray that he set on our table. “Coffee, sir”. Slack-jawed, I ran my fingers through my hair as I realized that this was our wake-up call.

JTTE: Making the Rounds in Delhi II

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Qutub complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an array of ancient tombs, mosques, and the ruins of temples and a history dating back to at least the 800’s AD. The highlight of the ruins is the Qutub Minar, the world’s highest minaret at 240 feet featuring typical Indo-Islamic architecture. Surrounding the minaret are the ruins of a mosque, a Jain temples, and corrosion proof iron-pillar dating back almost 1700 years.…

JTTE: Agra, A Great Place to be Buried

[][1]I don’t feel like I’m on vacation as I stumble out of the Master Guest House at 4:00 in the morning to meet Mashtan, our driver downstairs. Only he wasn’t exactly downstairs. The gates to the neighborhood had been closed and hadn’t been reopened yet, so we walked a couple of hundred feet to meet him there, and set out for Agra. A word about residential streets in Delhi. They all have gates.…

JTTE: The Pink City I

[][1]We left for [Jaipur][2] at a reasonable hour on Monday; we would be spending two nights in the city and felt we could get there a little later, not to mention we needed the rest. On the way we stopped at [Fatehpur Sikri][3], a fort located about 100 Km from Agra. Fatehpur Sikri resembled many of the forts we’ve seen along the way. A mix of Mughal and Hindu architecture, the site is in some ways an anomaly in our travels.…

JTTE: The Pink City II

[][1]By the time we got to [Amer Fort][2] on Tuesday the line to take the elephants through the moon gate entrance was too long for us to bear, and already we wished we had made an earlier start. With a full day of sites to see we skipped the elephants; just as well, Cary hears they’re not well treated. Amer, or Amber is another Mughal fort situated at the top of a hill near Jaipur.…

JTTE: Bringing the Rain to Bikaner

[][1]We began our descent into the western desert of Rajasthan around 7:30 AM on Wednesday. We had to cross 320 Km of sand and scrub before we would arrive at Bikaner, and our driver informed us that the drive would be very boring. On the contrary, we found the drive to be peaceful as the urban and agricultural way of life faded into the vast expanse of pastoral desert. You see very few humans out in the desert, and their number becomes increasingly fewer the further west you go.…

JTTE: How Rajasthan Gets Medieval

[][1]We rolled out of bed early on Thursday for a quick breakfast in our hotel. I had a masala omelet, which I will try to replicate when I get home, and a tea. Cary suffered through the coffee. A Word about Coffee in India. Instant. It seems ubiquitous. Nearly every hotel mixes up a batch and walks it out to your table like it’s fresh off the French press. I know what instant coffee tastes like, and though I’ve had worse in America, I’ve elected to switch to tea in the morning since I’ve been here.…

JTTE: A Respite in Jodhpur

[][1]After a leisurely breakfast Friday morning on the terrace of the Fifu Guest House, we began our journey out of the Thar and back towards central India. We had planned a stop on our way to Udaipur in the city of Jodhpur. Founded in 1459, [Jodhpur][2] is the second largest in the state of Rajasthan, and sports  temples, palaces and forts that are similar in style to the other cities we’ve visited.…

JTTE: The Most Romantic City in All of India

[][1]The road to Udaipur began after a quick caffeine fix. This would be our shortest driving length of the trip, but owing to the terrain would be our longest. Leaving Jodhpur we encountered some of the most poorly maintained tracts of asphalt I’ve seen this side of Costa Rica. Couple that with the fact that we were on the main road from Jodhpur to Mumbai, the Indian shipping capital, and we had created a very stressful start to the day for Mashtan.…

JTTE: The Hell with the Train

[][1]We got an early start on our first full day in Udaipur as their was much to see and do. Our first stop was the Jagdish Temple, very much a working Hindu temple near to our haveli. We proceeded clockwise around the grounds to each of the small shrines, examining the elephant plinth and the representations of the gods around the base of the temple. We had arrived early and several people were performing their morning prayers; we did our best not to disturb them.…

JTTE: Coming Home

[][1]There is nothing exciting about waking up at 4:00 in the morning to start a 12 hour car ride from Udaipur to Delhi. Suffice it to say that that is what we did. There isn’t much exciting about a 12 hour car ride either. We did that too. Upon arriving in Delhi we had far less time than we would have had we taken the train, which cut out a lot of the last minute sightseeing we had planned on.…

JTTE: A Final Word on India

“So how was India?” Next to ‘how ya doin?’, this is the most common question I’ve had in the past week from relatives, family, friends and co-workers. I don’t mind actually; every time the question is posed I get to reminisce about the trip. “It was awesome. It’s an amazing place” India will teach you things. You’ll learn how different we all are, and how foreign a culture can be. You’ll also learn how similar we are, even half a world apart.…