Traffic and Trishna

18
Dec
2006

Traffic in Bombay is CRAZY. I would never have the guts to drive here, the tolerance between vehicles is maybe an inch or two max. We went to eat at a fantastic seafood restaurant last night called Trishna. Tandoori prawns, crab, spicy squid, sea salmon….yum! Heading out today to see the town on my own a bit. Pics to come.

Stepping out

17
Dec
2006

Bombay / Mumbai is shaping up to be fascinating. It has a kind of crazy life not unlike NY, and a bunch of interesting social customs that are a mix of colonial British inheritance and local religion or custom. Everything here has a feel of faded colonial glory and intense, teeming life. The food has so far been fantastic. Today we went to one of the clubs that Nik and Ritu belong to and had a fantastic breakfast consisting of Dhosas, waffles, some potato pancake like thing whose name escapes me, dahl and chicken puff pastry.

Tonight we are going to have seafood at what is apparently THE place to do so in Bombay. After that I may go out on the town.

Bombay, Briefly

17
Dec
2006

I arrived at 3 am at Nik and Ritu’s and have been shown the most wonderful hospitality by these two amazing people. We tooled around Bombay today and ate at a fantastic Parsi run restaurant called Britannia. I will write more tomorrow and post some pics, but so far I love it. I have a totally different feeling about it than I did with Bangkok at first blush. It is obviously too soon to tell, but it all seems much more..familiar, without being recognizable. Stay tuned. It is 12:35 am here am I am dead tired and heading to bed.

Welcome to India…

15
Dec
2006

in a while, that is. I am at the airport and have been for hours. Upon my arrival I was informed that my flight was delayed by 4 hours. Yikes. That led to some frantic SMS and Internetting to try to get ahold of my hosts to let them know that I would be delayed, since they were sending a driver out for me and all. Except that I didn’t have their contact info. No kidding. That led to some frantic messaging across three continents to locate people with the info. Luck prevailed, contacts were made and there will be someone there to meet me at the airport when I arrive. Normally this kind of thing would give me fits, but I am pretty cool with it all. Travelling suits me evidently.

Bye Bye Bangkok

15
Dec
2006

Hard to believe it has already been a month that I have been in Thailand. What started as a serious case of culture shock is now a fairly strong satisfaction over the wonder of travel here and what I have learned. I plan to be back (for my birthday bash) next June, and hope to see even more of the country at that time.

In an hour I leave for the airport, where I will catch my Air India flight to Bombay. Stay tuned for a whole new round of culture shock (or not).

By the way, I mostly figured out the hose thing next to the toilet and how to use it to clean one’s ass. As with most things, it just takes a little practice. With the right angle and pressure control, one can get very clean with almost no water splashing about. I still needed at least one square of TP, however to dry off.

Enjoy folks, I’ll be here all year.

Random thoughts (Bangkok edition)

14
Dec
2006
  • No one seems able to read a map here. I used to think of maps as universal b/c they are graphic representations of the world, but reading a city map is definitely a type of literacy. And the people you would expect to have it here (taxi drivers for example) simply don’t.
  • Why are there so many people on the subway and skytrain and on the street with Vicks inhaler sticks shoved up their noses? Is this some great high that I am missing out on?
  • The mosquitoes here are teeny tiny and you don’t see them until it is too late. At home I was used to the large kind that make a buzzing sound.
  • Although this country is supposedly Buddhist, damnable Christmas music and Christmas displays are EVERYWHERE.
  • Eating here is mostly done with a spoon and fork. You are meant to use the fork to shovel food to your spoon, and somehow cut everything with your fork or spoon. Good luck with the hard stuff.
  • Rich or poor, cheap street market or glitzy shopping mall, this is a country that loves to shop and go to market.

Bangkok in one word

14
Dec
2006

Shopping. I was going to say shopping and sleaze, but I realized sleaze is just a subcategory of shopping. Whether one is purchasing designer clothes, electronics, or flesh, everything here seems to be on sale and consumerism is at an insane level. I have to admit it was a very pleasurable experience being in the Siam Center complex (being in a clean space with air conditioning didn’t hurt). At the same time, being in the malls I think about the 99% of the local population that can’t afford to be there and something seems totally out of whack. Thailand (and Bangkok especially) is on sale, mostly to the rest of the world. I left the very shiny, super clean Siam Center shopping mall feeling just a little dirty.

Baffling

14
Dec
2006

I really don’t get why this should be the case, but there are warnings and postings like the pic below all over the place in this city, especially in the shopping malls and stores. Are they worried about knock-offs being photographed? Are they worried about display ideas being ripped off? Do they think cameras will steal their soul? I have been accosted more than once here by mall cops not allowing me to photograph things.