Saturday, Jan. 10, 1:35AM
Sirsa, India (between New Delhi and Pujab)
Sorry, faithful readers, for the extended hiatus! I’ve been in transition, and now we are happily in India. In reply to your many concerned messages, my health is top-notch, I couldn’t be happier, and after the lackluster holidays in Nepal my tummy is happiest, as Indian food kicks butt supreme and every day tastes like a holiday!!
Right now Jamey’s friend is singing to us over Skype… this is so cool! Her voice is beautiful! God bless technology, which enables us to have these extra special communications with our loved ones… the other very important half (at least emotionally) of life on the road!
So anyway, back to the story. The girls returned in the late morning of our 12th day at the Nepali border, and we rejoiced, as they brought back gifts from the big city (our favorite biscuits, McVittie’s Hob Nobs, along with 20 DVDs). After their most treacherous night bus yet of 20 hours, they washed up and we were off to the border. All went smooth. Crossing the border by bike was indeed so very pretty and oh-so-all-new! First we rode along top of a big dam decorated with a brand new! colorful Indian aesthetic, through forest with groves of gnarly, pretty, Legend of Zelda-looking new! trees, I noticed many new species of cows — not just black buffalos anymore! — many horses, new varieties of big surly mountain goats, mules, and yes, Camels! It’s mind-blowing how Nepal seemed to consist solely based-on a tiny gene pool with a surprising consistency and omnipresence, and immediately outside Nepal there are so many different things. We biked 15km total from Nepal to the border town where we’d catch our next night bus to New Delhi — the girls’ second consecutive. In the 5 hours we had to kill we ate a delectable and filling Indian feast with kaju burphy (cashew sweets), loaded our massive load onto the bus, and watched 1/2 of Wall-E on an outdoor DVD setup at one of the restaurants by the station. We departed at 7pm and I was wired — excitedly chatting with Bonnie until I talked her to sleep. I somehow managed to stay-up all night (not by choice), wedged in the middle seat between a guy who kept trying to use me as a pillow and sleeping Bonnie. I wouldn’t have had it any other way though, regarding sleeping in the window seat, as she deserved the rest.
Eventually (like after 2 hours) we managed to find our ride named Cab – how ironic, who had actually been waiting outside the wrong bus terminal in another part of New Delhi. It was 8am, I was too cracked out to think, but somehow we managed to walk all of our bags and bikes up to the top floor of the Grewal family’s Delhi apartment building, where we drank tea, ate some breakfast, and chatted on the roof as we watched planes at the airport. Now I was pulling an all-nighter, as it was midday and I was drinking my third tea, and we had a random day of low-key relaxation, watching Hot Chick in Cantonese, going out to the market for wildly exotic and delicious (non-Nepali) groceries, using the fastest internet we’ve seen in 2 months for 3 hours of Flickr uploading bliss (which was still way slow by any of your standards, as well as the loud Indian-American couple next to us in the cafe, but not mine anymore!), taking an auto-rickshaw, following 10 signs for multiple kilometers on foot to buy wine and beer from a government shop, coming home to Cara’s delicious home-cooked meal of chili and corn bread, drinking wine with Bonnie, hours of fixing my iPod and watching Wall-E. I slept like a baby. In the morning we brewed tall coffees, ate our delicious (western-ish) leftover chili with paneer (cheese), and we took off in the Jeep to Sirsa, a town 4-5 hours out of Delhi to the NE. Currently we are at the farm (home) of Harpal Grewal, who looks like Indian Santa and calls me Catholic Jesus.
As we are in the care of the Grewal family the Adventure factor has gone down a few notches, but it’s sort of nice to be shuttled around comfortably, and to have this experience in the hospitality of a warm and established family. Harpal and his sons Jespal and Cab have spared no effort in including us in on all their business, taking me around town, inviting us to meet their friends, and telling us ALL about their culture, family, and beliefs. They’re a trip. It’s hilarious, relaxing, and fun. It’s been a strange transition, albeit a very welcome and enjoyable one so far. India’s a completely different world, and we’re just sort of chillin with this family, eating good-ass home cooked food, which Cara and Bonnie are doing much of the preparation, while the boys do boy stuff. Everyday is interesting and different. On Tuesday I picked veggies in the field, got acquainted with some of the animals, and Harpal told us all about communicating with his cows. On Wednesday we made a ghetto badminton court, I established a wifi hot spot out of nothing (voila!), took 4 hr nap till dinner, geeked till late. Yesterday I went out with Harpal and Jespal to do errands around town and go to the market, we bought 20kilos of amazing oranges for $6, hit up some sweet shops, had a drive-by iced coffee, and enjoyed a tea with some cops at the police station. Tomorrow we will drive another 3 hours north with Cab, to his house in Chandahar (in Punjab). The goal is to relax, chill out, see stuff, do some cooking, visit new areas, enjoy Mother India.
Geek alert… now for the iPod Update! Since last time, I’ve been ‘hacking’ my bulletproof iPod to save the music. I haven’t cried… it’s been a good way to practice my Zen. Many hours of rebuilding later (and still in progress — I’m zeroing the drive before my 3rd attempt to save it), I should still have most of my music, minus the 150 playlists and maybe 12,000 ratings I’ve assigned to tracks, which are gone. Note to self: copy this data periodically to the ID3 tags, under the Comments or Grouping, if it means anything to you. It’s funny how much we, as a group, freakin’ love and depend on our iPods. Some may think that indulging in the technology of home may, in a way, hold you back from fully immersing in the environment around, but seriously, at the end of the day I’m freakin’ immersed, even more so while doing things to my own personal soundtrack. jameyPod, caraPod, and sheepPod7 (despite his little slip-up) have proven themselves very worthy travel companions thus far, so much in fact that we’ve recently had the pleasure of welcoming a brand spanking shiny new Orange bonNano to the group, which her namesake picked up in Kathmandu over the holidays. This new Nano is perfect, and I instantly love it as my own after the pleasure of helping set it up chock-full of my ‘borrowed’ music, trip photos, and goat videos.
Besides computing, though, I’m excited for new things, namely INDIA! On the road again at 6am… which is in 4 hours. I’ll try to write more regularly again so I’m not so scattered. What am I blabbering about? Good night!