Thursday, January 18, 2007

Coming from which country?

I managed to pull myself out of sandy tropical Goa yesterday on a train bound for Mumbai. The train is far better than the bus in India, especially for long distance travel, but it conflicts with my general aversion to planning because you generally have to make a reservation a few days in advance to have a guaranteed seat. It's worth the effort though, because it's cheaper, smoother, faster, and funner than bus travel. This time I got lucky and secured a seat having bought my ticket a half hour before the train was to depart.
Mumbai! Bombay! Whatever you want to call it, it's a magnificent place teeming with life and excitement around every corner. Grand architecture, brilliant cuisine from around India (and the world) and a shopper's paradise (I bought a trumpet today...), it's the kind of place I can see myself living. Today I aquainted myself with just one small area of the city. Imagine all the hidden secrets, gems and horrors that dwell in this sprawling megalopolis of 16 million people (give or take).
The winds have turned and from here I'm drifting north through the states of Gujarat and Rajisthan before hitting Delhi around the beginning of February. This means I'll be staying in India a fair bit longer than the initial 6 weeks I'd planned for, and I'll be able to hit Kashmir and Pujabi to the north of Delhi, and later Varanesi before going back to Chennai at the end of the trip.
Here's some of the highlights from the last week or so:
I saw the biggest rat ever.
Saw more cows eating more cardboard.
Took a therapeutic mud-bath in Goa.
Perfected my clothes hand-washing technique.
The train ride along the Konkan coast of India.
The magnificent sunsets over the sea in Goa every night.
Saw a really dated American horror movie called The Body Counters in the cinema (ok not really a highlight but I thought you should know) Tonight I'll correct that blunder by seeing a quality flick here in the film capitol of India.

Next stop - somewhere in Gujarat state


Jon Hoff said...

Seth -- been too long since i dropped by. Great to read about India, and your writing is very lucid -- i mean it's just the way you speak so I can imagine u saying it!

What you said in the previous post about whole economies developing around a tourist industry is true throughout all of SE Asia - when you see the scale it's on it makes you realise how devastating something like terrorism or tsunami can be. Once people give up their farms or previous way of generating income and turn to the tourists there is no going back.

It's a big problem in Vietnam, and I feel it breeds laziness in some attracted to tourist areas. For example, if someone can rent their motorbike out for the day to a foreigner for $6, that's a good days work, but it means loads of hanging around trying it instead of getting a job and it also means more hassle for tourists.

Anyway, look forward to reading more, and I'm linking you up baby...! (I'm putting a link on my site to yours, it's net manners as you have linked me up!)

Enjoy Seth.....!

Jacob Thomas said...

I am awash in India, despite the snow on the ground here in Portland, OR. On your recommendation I started reading "Are You Experienced", a novel about a wanker British backpacker in India (quite funny), and just the other night I watched David Lean's "A Passage To India" based on EM Forrster's novel. COmbined with your travelogue I feel like I can taste the chai, smell the cows, hear the accents (actually, I can hear those while getting tech support from my ISP) and see the head bobbing. Love the details on communication differences- keep 'em coming! On a totally unrelated note, I just finishes another book recommendation of yours- "Possibility of an Island" by Michael Houellebecq. Quite an interesting read, I think I liked it, but what struck me the most is that whenever I read books you say you loved, they turn out to be strange, twisted tales that I'm not too sure about until they are over (when I usually decide they were good). You have some strange taste my friend. SO- reading anything as you ride the rails?

Love from the Empire