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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blah, okay, I am here

I finally got settled. After a month.  A little longer than I was anticipating, but it all worked out in the end. So now I should update at least somewhat regularly. At least weekly. I am hoping to do more than that, time and ideas permitting. I need to get a book to write down thoughts. I am always bursting with ideas when I am walking about or riding the bus or an auto or something and then I get back to wherever I am staying or the internet cafe and sit down to write a blog entry and...I can't think of anything I feel like writing. I think the problem is I talk throughout these awesome ideas and entries and stuff and it takes a long time and then when I have computer access I can just remember thinking awesome thoughts about something like "comparative food presentation in Indian families in the village and the city" and I just get exhausted thinking about going over it all again and putting it into writing. I am just too lazy, probably.

Anyhow, I have "wifi" here. I mean it works, but it seems like everyone who has a computer here, if they have internet access, they are downloading movies and music from bit torrent. It kind of crowds the network a lot. Indian Roomies, not that I have told any of you about this blog yet, but if you ever read this, I love you and your constant downloads.

I also took a Vodafone internet thingy, so I have back up internet, which is actually faster than any wifi I have used yet in India, which is kind depressing because it is not even 3G. Or maybe it is "3G." The terms get confused here. Remind me to update about buying an internet dongle in India sometime.

So what have I been up to...in a small nutshell...it is kind of difficult to process through all of it. I guess shortly, I got to India about a month ago at 12:30 am with no one expecting me, which actually was not as bad as I was afraid it would be. I chatted with a nice Indian couple from Punjab for an hour or two and then read until the metro opened. I took that to the New Delhi Railway station metro station and got lost and then shafted by an auto driver. That is okay, I knew I was getting shafted and I did not have the energy to fight for a decent price.

This is where I made my mistake. I listened to the dag blasted guide book. I am never using a guide book again. They lie horribly. Okay, I will use a guidebook if I happen to be a millionaire and can afford to stay at all the expensive places. But on a budget? Heck no. They don't even recommend good places. All the places they recommended were these overpriced tourist trap things. Anyhow, because of the stupid guide book (yes I am blaming it, because it is the stupid guidebooks fault) I found a hotel in Pahar Ganj (travel tip: if you ever go to India, never, never stay in Pahar Ganj. I would sleep on the streets first. It is safe, but if you want the worst part of the Indian tourist experience, go there. Everyone is trying to get your attention and your money and it is full of the worst kind of foreign tourist. They all have their dreadlocks and their hippie clothes and think they understand India and are having this "adventure" or this "spiritual" experience. Idiots all. Anyhow, Pahar Ganj is grasping, fake, and incredibly stressful. The real India is so much better than Pahar Ganj.) (Remind me to post an entry just on Pahar Ganj.)

Anyhow, hotel in Pahar Ganj. There are two hotels in Pahar Ganj with very similar names. One is very expensive, the other is very cheap. The guidebook, despite being updated, supposedly, only a few months ago rates everything by this code from LL to G. (Because that makes sense) Because of a quirk in how they laid out the maps in this book I thought I was at the cheap one, but I ended up at the expensive hotel. I just went with it because I was still kind of stressed out about being alone and having all my stupid luggage (two bags: worst idea ever. It is the first time in my life I even entertained the desire for an e-reader. It was short lived, but that is how stressful being in India on your own with two freaking bags, a limited budget, and no where planned to stay.) (For clarification, I have two bags because I have one for my books, essentially, and one for everything else. (yes, I have that many books to read (English major, duh))) I was really tired and stressed and was not really thinking straight and so I completely misconverted the nightly rate in my mind because I still thought I was at the cheaper hotel (that makes it sound like I was crazy delirious or something, what I mean is I was tired and had a minor brain slip) and so I ended up staying at a hotel that was forty dollars a night, instead of five or ten like I had planned. Also, because I checked in at like seven or eight, when I left at eleven the next day, an hour before the noon check out time posted at the desk, they charged me an extra half day at twenty dollars. So yeah, sixty dollars for the first night. In India. It sucked. But oh well, live and learn, book your hotel, or at least have a game plan next time. The next hotel I stayed in was only like eight dollars a night, so I repented.

I spent the first week in hotels while I was trying to find housing, which while you are in the field is actually way more difficult than I was expecting. Basically I could not find anything. Even among the members of the church, I came up empty for a place to stay permanently. Anyhow, after a week and having spent a significant portion of my budget and having waking nightmares of running out of money in a month and a half if I got stuck in hotels the whole time looking for housing, I decided to just go all in. I checked out of my hotel (which charged me a whole ton of extra fees they neglected to mention at the outset and tried to charge me three times the going rate for a taxi) and went to the Vasant Vihar church. That afternoon a friend of my begged me to go visit his family and village in Himachal Pradesh...so I went.

If you have a problem with that, office, I love you, but you can suck it. I was breaking my back, stressed out of my mind looking for housing and someone offered me a week of free housing and meals and the most awesome, immerse-yourself cultural experience available in India, so I took it. If you have any suggestions for housing, I'm all ears.

Anyhow, so Himachal Pradesh was amazing. I stayed in his village for four or five days. I slept with at least one other person in my bed at all times. Clean was a relative term. I showered outside with cold water in my underwear. Sometimes while chatting with whomever happened to be nearby. I hung out with the local youth/young adults in the village centers like they seem to do. I will just have to post a series of entries about the whole experience. It was awesome. I got by with hinglish, essentially. My friend essentially speaks English as long as we talk about basic things and I know a little Hindi, so with that I got by for the week. At the end we went up to visit Shimla. (which is cold. I was so surprised. It was actually really cold. In summer. While Delhi was over a hundred degrees. It was bizarre) Shimla is incredible. If you ever happen to be in India, it is one of the most relaxing places I have been in India.

I came back to Delhi, tried to find housing for an afternoon. I had something that I set up while I was in Himachal Pradesh, but that fell through so I went to Hyderabad for the YSA conference. That was great and covered another week or so of housing, although more than half of that was on a train.

When I got back to Delhi again I used the Vasant Vihar church as a base of operations while I searched for a paying guest accommodation, essentially what students/single working people in India use. After three or four days I found one that was generally honest and met my basic requirements, so I took it and here I am. I have two room mates and there are two other people on the floor, although I think another three will be moving in. I have no A/C, but that is not really an issue. I do not mind the heat all that much and it will be monsoon before long. A/C was an extra sixty or so dollars a month. Not worth it.

Anyhow, I will update specifically about my accommodations. Oh, and my project. I should probably talk about my project, since it is kind of the whole reason I am even here and the reason for having this blog. But I tire of this exercise. Also I am tired. Also also, I should find a scale. I definitely have lost weight. I should figure out how much to see if it is kosher or if I should take steps.


  1. "Idiots all." maybe my favorite line...but who knows there were many good one liners, it's just fun to read about your adventures and I feel you with the extra bag for books thing...bleck.

    1. Do you have an extra bag of books? How many did you have to take? If only I could accept the idea of what essentially amounts to lifetime book rental. Just...it is so soulless. It isn't even the book, its like an empty husk.

  2. Gah. I'm glad you finally posted. I stopped checking, I am ashamed to say, but your comment on my blog reminded me. I know what you mean about having a great conversation and then being unable to be bothered about writing it all out again afterwards. My friend I started a film blog because I always find a way to bring movies into any conversation if I know it will be acceptable to the others in the conversation. But it turned out we'd talk about the movies we saw, and then I would lose interest in writing about them. I get around that in my blog posts because there's no one to talk to, ha! So...I suppose...you know, pros and cons.

    All the same, it sounds like a crazy time--one that sounds a lot more Romantic than it feels, I'm sure. Especially in hundred-degree heat, which I do not fancy in the least. I hope you're reading--you ought to do a blog post about that and some of the ideas you've come across and think on. Also, I condone your trip to the Indian village and I used to be a member OF the office (though, not one with any say) so maybe that counts for something.

    Save a good thought for us that you have interest in writing down. Don't discuss with anyone until it's written.

    1. I don't blame you. You are perfectly justified in not checking anymore. I haven't been reading anyone else until today really. But i have constant internet now, probably.

      Honestly I am pretty used to the heat, so it isn't really a culture shock kind of reaction to the heat, more like a just it's really hot reaction to the heat. Which can be sort of the whole romantic thing. I don't know. I will have to post pictures if the internet here can handle it.

      Really I just need a little commonplace book to quickly jot down an outline of what I am thinking. I think that will help a lot so I don't have to try to remember and restructure the idea.

      Bah. There is too much world to see. Not to see, to experience. Reading everyone else's blogs always makes me wonder if I have made the right choice. But the die is cast. I have tied myself to India. It is great so far.

  3. Sounds great and I'm glad your alive. Going to HP makes me so jealous.

  4. Oh my GOODNESS Rem, that was the craziest thing I have read in a long time! Did you feel a lot more comfortable with all of these crazy situations because you had been to India before? Do they have youth hostels there, or just those hotels? Let me just say that I am admiring you very much right now!

  5. Dude, Rem, this blog was amazing and it made me smile. Jay is sitting here beside me. I told him your description of Pahar Ganj. He just said, "Yeah, he pretty much nailed it." :) And, I'm part of the office and I don't care that you went to Himachal Pradesh.

    P.S. I just finished reading "Arrow of the Blue Skinned God" and I really enjoyed it!

  6. This was great. Now you need to post weekly. That would be much better than monthly. Monthly is too much time in between happenings. I talked to our neighbor across the street, the Indian family. His wife's family lives up North in the vicinity of Himachal Pradesh. I gave him your cell phone number. Is it still active? Okay, here comes the dad stuff. Eat right and quit losing weight. Last time I checked you don't need to lose weight. Get on skype soon. We are up in Provo next week. Skype so we can get updated.