Hello Fellow Fish,
Rolling into the New Delhi train station marked exactly 46 hours on a train (approximately 17+ hours late). It was 11:30pm and we did our best to find accommodation ASAP while also meeting back up with our good friend Justinfected.
Our base of operation was the popular backpacker area: Paharganj. Ariel and Moon had both studied abroad in Delhi at St. Stevens Institute in 2009. As such, they had quite a few friends around that were in the area who they were anxious to meet up with again while the Fosters and I were along for the ride. We spent a day or two walking down memory lane with Moon and Ariel as they took us through a day in their life while studying abroad. From walking around the old English style campus, to eating at the same food vendors, even going to see their old apartment. The current tenant there was kind enough to let us peak in and have a look at the old crib.
One night, we were all on our way to meet a friend, Meher, who lived in South Delhi, about an hour from our guesthouse by metro. When we got off at the stop, we were a bit early so we decided to walk around the area and explore. We came across a field that was being built up and had a stage on it. After poking our heads around, going on the stage, and lounging in the palatial dressing rooms we find out that Snoop Dogg is performing the following night in what is to be his final show known as Snoop Dogg before he changes his name to Snoop Lion. So we sorted out tickets and made our way to Meher’s house.
|Jersey Boys' Pizza|
Being that it was a bit of a reunion, Jeff, Ariel, and I arranged a Hawaii-style Jersey Boys’ Pizza: India Edition. It was just like the old days; kneading dough, delicately seasoning the sauce, and vigorous preparation of various toppings. There was a feast. Once the pizzas were done, there was still apple crumble and ice cream for desert. Our bodies were not too pleased with the amount of cheese we had just force fed it, being that cheese had been non-existent in our diets for the last 7 months, and the [our bodies] made that abundantly clear the following morning. We spent the day lounging and gearing up for the Snoop concert that evening. So we made out way back to South Delhi and met up with the same group from the night before with a few additions as well. Once we went inside it was basically a free for all. I pushed my way to the very front and when Snoop finally came out the place went wild. Naturally, everyone in the back is pushing forward and I was no exception. One of the guys in front of me thought I was intentionally pushing him and asked me to stop, another guy in the VERY front was protecting his elderly mother by being a human barricade while she was against the actual barricade at the front. It was a great concert, I just couldn’t help but think about how all of Snoop Dogg’s lyrics are going to need to be changed because he says his name so much in his own songs, they the songs will in essence be rendered obsolete.
|Matt, Moon, and Justin at the concert|
Once the concert was over we regrouped and headed back to Paharganj. We stopped for an all you can eat Thali place along the way and had our fill. As we walked back towards our hostel, we heard loud music nearby. Justin and I decide to investigate and come to find an elaborately decorated event complete with a red carpet leading inside, limousines parked in the front, and what looked like security at the entrance. We were very underdressed, but it makes no difference what you wear as long as you’re white and walk with purpose. I walk in like it was my party and come to discover I have walked in to a Punjabi wedding. The guests were garbed in elegant traditional Punjabi clothes as well as more western tuxedoes and suits. We, conversely, were dressed like paupers, yet no one blinked an eye when we walked in. The edges of the venue were lined with various cuisines from around the world buffet style, and there was a stage where most people were dancing and having a great time. There were photographers and videographers making their rounds and each camera had a corresponding TV affixed in the TV bank at the center of the venue so even if you were on the other side of the party, you still knew what was going on somewhere else. It was unfortunate we had just gorged ourselves on a mediocre Thali less than an hour ago, because the eclectic high-class food looked absolutely delicious. After a quick lap around the premises, we end up on the dance floor and danced our little butts off to the traditional Indian wedding music. Moon was dancing with a bunch of kids who seemed particularly excited to see a white girl, Ariel, Jeff, and Justin were the center of a dance circle, and I took a breather to soak it all in. The older men took to throwing cash into the air, as per tradition, while the children (and us) did our best to pick up as much as we could until we realized they were very small demoninations. These men were literally making it rain all over the dance floor.
After some time, the music stops and we notice the wedding procession taking place. The groom, at the very front, looking like a sultan from the days of Aladin, and the bride dutifully making her towards him. The bride was appropriately dressed in colorful robes, complete with the henna markings on her arms and the ceremonial piercings. Her face looked as if she could break down and cry at any moment, for joy or sorrow I could not tell, as she was escorted by her bridal entourage. The women walking with her were dancing with pots of fire on their heads, another group holding a wooden palate covered in flowers over her as she walked the red carpet towards the stage to meet her life partner. Seeing this made me wonder if it was an arranged marriage (it probably was) because it looked like the two were seeing each other for the first time. I’m guessing some vows were exchanged, there was some chanting and cheering then the party picked right back up.
As the dancing started up again, three men, who seemed very authoritative, approached me. They asked, “do you like beer?” Of course, I apply affirmatively and he says he will take me to some. The rest of the group sees this and follows. He leads us towards the exit and I assume the act is up. They found out we weren’t on the guest list and were just crashing the wedding. I was fearing for our safety as we were being escorted out by these three men, when we came to the exit, and then passed it. The guys were actually taking us to the bar area of the wedding that was a bit hidden from the rest of the wedding. He informs us of the open bar with literally anything we want, offers us a sheesha, and fresh snacks prepared behind the bar. Turns out the guy who initially approached me was the cousin of the bride and he wanted to hear about all our travels saying he would like to do that someday. When the party started dying down, we started back once again back to Paharganj.
The next few days were our last in Delhi, in that time, we said our good byes to Moon yet again, as she was going back to the USA while Jeff, Justin and I took a day trip to Agra before we all headed west to Jaipur in Rajistan.
Seeing the Taj Mahal had been on my bucket list for quite some time. It did not disappoint, and made the 5-hour misery bus ride a bit more worthwhile. I got stopped at security because they found playing cards in my bag, but once we cleared that hurdle, it was a feast for our eyes.
|The Taj Mahal|
|Agra Red Fort|
After a few hours traversing the crowds and walking around the grand mausoleum we make our way back to our bus, which would take us back to Dehli. The distance is only about 2-3 hours away, but with the horrific roads, and general traffic congestion it took us 4 hours to get back to Delhi. A solid 22 hours after we had left. No rest for us as we gathered our bags from the hotel and made our way to the train station. As we were walking a light rain turns into a torrential down pour, and then intensifies to a full blown hail storm. Ping-pong ball sized hail chunks fell from the sky for a solid 10 minutes as we just stood under an honing waiting for it to pass. We finally arrive at the New Delhi train station and realize our train isn’t listed on the board. After a brief investigation, it is learned that our train was leaving from OLD Delhi station, 11 minutes away by rickshaw…our train left in 10. We scurry out with all our bags and find the nearest driver who would take us, accepting the fact that we would pay a higher price because of our frantic demeanor and dire situation. Our driver does an outstanding job and gets us to the Old Delhi Train station right as our train is leaving. Literally, rolling down the tracks as all four of us are in a dead sprint to catch up and jump in the remaining cars. Thankfully, the doors are almost always open, and never before had we been so thankful for ‘Indian Stretchable Time.’
We spent a relatively short amount of time in Jaipur. We got to know the small Rajistan city pretty well as we hired a driver our first day there. He took us to all the sights he thought worth seeing. We immersed ourselves in an unhealthy amount of Lassis, and got to see the Bollywood action film Dabang II, which provided an interesting mix of over the top cop/western action and drama complete with exaggerated Matrix/300-esque fight sequences all in Hindi. The theater itself seemed like an old English theater house that might have been used for plays in the past. The audience was engaged as if it were a play cheering, hooting, and hollering at every badass fight scene or when the protagonist and his love interest get close to kissing (they never actually show the kissing). It was a very unique entertainment experience, especially with the fact that absolutely none of it was in English.
|It's hard to tell if they are related.|
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Thats all for now. Tune in next time to hear about our time spent in Mumbai and the beach town Goa.
Until Next Time,