Procrastiblog

July 25, 2006

Qs on Haridwar, Ganges, Pilgrims…

Filed under: India — Chris @ 4:31 pm

Indian experts, please weigh in. We will append more questions as necessary…

[C] What’s the deal with bathing in the Ganges anyway?

[C] Does the Ganges form a kind of cloak of invisibility around the bare-breasted women who are bathing in it? Women who would never wear a skirt above the ankle or a sleeve above the shoulder on a non-Ganges-bathing day? Am I not actually seeing the naked breasts I think I’m seeing?

[H] Pilgrimages: substitute for a family vacation, or something altogether different? Do you take the whole family for a quick dip in the river, say a prayer, and then on to the amusement park? Or do parents and kids and all spend large chunks of time pilgraming together? Do you get pilgramage time off work?

[C] Might you take a quick bath on your way home from work, or is the Ganges a special-occasion-only bath?

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Loud and Shrill

Filed under: India — Chris @ 4:19 pm

You would think it is a fundamental matter of human physiology that we are repelled by loud and shrill noises, and not a matter of cultural conditioning. Not so.

I’m not referring to the sounds of Indian pop music, which can be somewhat shrill to the untrained ear. I am referring to the sounds of that same music when played at top volume through a cheap hand-held cassette player on a train or a bus. I am referring to the man who, lacking a hand-held cassette player, decided to play monophonic ring tones on his mobile for six hours on the train. I am referring to the prevalance of the SOS ring tone on mobiles through the country (“bipbipbip BEEP BEEP BEEP bipbipbip”). I am referring to bus drivers who spend more than 50% of the time leaning on their (LOUD) horns*. None of this seems to faze the common India. Whereas H and I sit next to one another in various phases of homocidal mania.

* They spend an equal proportion of their time passing other cars, buses, pedestrians, and domesticated animals on the left, right, and middle sides of the road.

Indian Trains

Filed under: India — Chris @ 4:11 pm

The only thing worse than the Indian train reservation website is… the reservation booth at any train station in India. There is no such thing as an orderly queue at the train station.

H and I had a pretty bad day trying to deal with the trains yesterday, which I guess climaxed at the ticket window in Chandigarh where I put my arm over the shoulder of a man who had shamelessly cut in front of me, shoved the reservation slip through the window*, and exclaimed, “Look at me with my long arms! I guess I’m in front of you! How about that? I’m number one!” and then laughed maniacally.

I’m not proud of it. Much.

* This is the only factor which determines who is helped and when in the train station line. It doesn’t matter when you joined the line, where you are standing, or even how loud you shout and how hard you shove… All that matters is whether your reservation slip and cash are within the most convenient reach of the clerk.

Himalayas 1, Us 0

Filed under: India — Chris @ 4:04 pm

The bottom line is: you can’t “do” the Himalayas in 3-4 days. So we retreated after 2 mostly-pleasant days in Shimla, took the toy train down the hills in the unreserved car with a thousand Punjabi Boy Scouts and their alcoholic Sikh scoutmaster, and spontaneously jumped off the Delhi train in Chandigarh…

Question of the day: “How do you make chapati where you are from?”

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