August 3, 2010

Here in Vadodara, Gujarat state in western India. Like Mumbai it is very muggy and damp. Taking those catnaps on the 14-hr. flight from Newark served the purpose of making me tired enough that I slept through the night and my body actually thought it was Monday morning! So today it was up early for a 1 hour flight from Mumbai to Vadodara, and still feeling awake, fresh, and feeling pretty good.

I’m still trying to figure out the currency and tipping. For $40 I got something like $2,500 in Indian rupies. I now have it pretty much figured out the following:

• Driver taking you to airport: 100 rupies
• Guy taking your bag to the room: 50 rupies
• Getting a look of disgust because you hadn’t figured out how much to tip the bell man: 10 rupies.

The hotel I stayed at Sunday night – the LaLiT Intercontinental Mumbai – was drop-dead beautiful in every way. The only hotel I would compare it to where Tracey and I have previously stayed was the Kahala Resort in Hawaii. Tracey would have gone nuts. The hotels here have lots of candles in some kind of a gold stand (I’ll try and find out what it’s called) in their foyers, and pictures of people on walls have candles set in front of them. Lots of candle use in the Hundu culture! I’ve now decided my prayer area will always have some kind of a safe candle burning going forward. The hotel here in Vadodara is not as nice as the one in Mumbai but it’ll do.

The plane flight from Mumbai to Vadodara was OK, although the pilot could use some soft landing instructions. They’re regular 737s and Jet Airways is sort of the India discount airline. We flew out of Mumbai over the Arabian Sea and I thought I was dreaming. It made me realize for the first time just how far away from home I am. Mumbai has a big beach along the coast with gray waves. There were no boats on the water and no one on the beach. I’m told you wouldn’t want to walk it, anyways, as it’s filthy and the water is not swimmable. I believe it.

While Mumbai is just like any other major airport, the Vadodara airport is right out of the ‘60s – you walk out on the tarmac and the plane is loaded and unloaded from both ends. There are no gates, just a big parking lot the pilot stopped in the middle of. The other weird thing about domestic travel here is that there are no real “gates” – everyone waits in a huge area and listens for their flight to be called and then you board. Security is similar to that in the U.S., except you don’t have to take off your shoes, and there are separate lines for men and women, since everyone is wanded and frisked. My female traveling companion thinks it would be more exciting if the men frisked the women and vice versa – I have to agree.

The roads here are crazy, people drive like nuts. The weird thing is seeing cattle – y’know, cows – as well as donkeys and goats grazing and laying down in the middle of busy streets – and I’m not talking country roads here. Even in the most main of thoroughfares! I’m told if I’m lucky I should be able to see camels and maybe even an elephant (people sell rides on them) if I’m lucky.

Tonbight I took our India team out to dinner at a restuarant chain called Barbeque Nation. No cocktails (Gujarat is a Muslim state), although supposedly I could have ordered beer or wine if I showed them my passport), but I demurred. Lots of chicken, veggies, and fish served as appetizers on a gas grill embedded into the table followed by a buffet of every kind of India food imaginable. What I had was very limited (avoiding any kind of raw veggies, salads, and desserts per my companion’s recommendation) but decent enough. I’ll never be much of a fan of Indian food – though it sure beats cheese grits 🙂 – but I gave it the college try.

Tomorrow it’s another work day at Vadodara. Wednesday I begin my travel to my next destination, Pune. I’ll get some pictures up once I get back. Definitely will include cattle in the road.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:46 | Comments (2)
  1. Curry cheese grits!!!!!!!!!!! why have I not ever thought of this????? Thanks for the inspiration

    Comment by Jana — August 5, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  2. Ohhhh… now THAT sounds totally disgusting. Make sure you serve to all your friends. 😉

    Comment by The Great White Shank — August 6, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

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