Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 1st - The "Real India" - Survival is an Instinct

June 1, 2009 We drive 7 hours to Jim Corbett National Park and I expect it will be a wasted day of just traveling... but to my surprise we see exotic people, costumes and villages the whole way. I can't snap enough pictures.

Missed so many National Geographic type pictures... got some too!

I learned:
how important cow "dung" (poopie) is for fuel to cook food and make huts

that sadly, kids work and may not ever go to school, and some pick trash just to survive

women work construction in their saris

a new definition of a crowded bus or automobile

people of all ages can sit for hours comfortably squatting (and they also go to the bathroom this way)

people rest while working and have a different style bed than USA

and the many modes of transportation.

Saw a Groom headed towards his wife-to-be on horseback during his wedding ceremony.

We stopped for lunch at a place called a "Dhaba" (Uday says it is the name for a roadside restaurant). It looked hygienic enough but I was surprised when the waiter used his bare hands on our food to serve it to us. Here we ate Parathaan (a special type of bread with potatoes and seeds inside for a mildy spicy flavor) and Daal (lentil sauce). It was very good and I ate two Parathaan. Thank God for that food as our next meal would not be until 10pm that night.

Originally we requested to stay at a place called "Wild Trail" at Jim Corbett park, but the guy we booked the tour with, signed us up at "Wildcrest Resort". We made him change it back to what we requested as we were interested in Wild Trail because it looked more authentic for the Jungle. Later I regretted this decision as Wildcrest looked much nicer, more clean, and luxurious.

Below is a picture of the area we ended up staying at.

When we got to our room at Wild Trail we discovered that the place was more of a camp than a resort and our room was full of flys in the afternoon and a huge house spider ran into our room from the outside. This was the best room there they had to offer and their sheets also did not look that clean. We felt stressed that on the day of our arrival we were suppose to do adventure activities and possibly an elephant ride that night but this place was disorganized and did not have anything planned for us. They told us it was because they did not have a booking with us originally but everything would work out. They just did not tell us when and how everything would work out. I began to learn that the people in India did not communicate as I am used to in America. I like to call it, "lack of communication".
In the mean time I requested that our driver Raju drive us around the outskirts of the park and we got some pictures of the surrounding area.

Finally in the evening we paid for our own elephant safari ride instead of waiting for the one that was suppose to be included in our package.

The timing of the ride could not have been anymore perfect. As we rode on top of our Elephant through the jungle in search of the Bengal tiger and other wild life, the sun was setting and it began to thunder in the background and as the thunder got louder the rain began. Most people would not welcome the rain but I was hoping for it as I knew this usually brought more wildlife out especially close to sunset. The rain was also cool and refreshing which felt good to me and also made me feel better for the elephant who had been carrying people through the jungle all day in the heat. We thought for sure we would see a tiger and we were straining our eyes to scope out the jungle. We saw many monkeys and deer but no tiger. The rain stopped and it was nightfall by the time we returned on our elephant. It was a really cool experience.

Back at Wild Trail we waited two hours for dinner. It looked very unclean and I was afraid to eat there. I had decided that I might just have to fast for a few days rather than eat there. Uday ordered for me anyway and when the food came I was so hungry that I decided that the rice looked safe enough to eat, and then the lentil sauce and the bread. I still did not eat the chicken curry even though Uday kept saying how good it was. To my surprise the food tasted good and we were not bothered by any mosquito's even though we were eating outside in jungle area. It was very, very dark and also very peaceful.

Back in our room I took what I call an "Indian Style" shower with a big bucket full of water and a "mug" to pour water on myself as there was no shower. We were lucky that there was a water heater so we could use warm water. By this time I felt tired of being resistant to changing my American ways. It grew clear to me that if I wanted to eat or shower this was my only option so I gave in.

Here is a picture of Uday illustrating the "Indian Style Shower"

By nightfall the flies that were in our room were gone and I slept with no blanket on the bed still afraid that it might not be clean enough. I lay in bed and begin to feel calmer after the interesting bathing process. I begin to feel a deeper understanding with Uday and why he does some of the things he does in regards to touching other people's food and some of his other hygene habits and ways of thinking.

As I close my eyes to try and go to sleep I am seeing flashbacks like a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with visions of brilliant colors, Saris, women all in black covering their faces, old women faces, old men faces with Turbans, kids on motorcycles, and jungles, as I finally fall into a deep sleep next to Uday who is already sound asleep.

I use the body heat of my husband and lay close to him to try and stay warm from the cool blowing air from the air cooler in the room.

Click on the picture below to see all of our pictures of June 1, 2009 our first full day in India:

1 comment:

Ganesh Bharathan said...

It looks like India has been portrayed as a very poor county and so on. If you go to a third world country like India you are expected to see poverty but if you want to see real bad poverty and slums go to New York east side or parts of south USA where you can not set your foot in the filth, gangs of all races added to the guns and drugs.

If you go to India next time make sure you book 5 star hotels. They are not as costly as you think they are and plan you trip in advance and ask help of locals. So you can see India in all its Glory but you need to spend some more. India is not what is just shown in this blog. India is a lot more beautiful than what it looks like. Try places like Kerala, Goa, and other beautiful hill stations in India.

If you need to see modern India go to the metros and see it in all its beauty. Next time make sure you see the India of our dreams and not the India in perils.

Ganesh B.
(Uday's childhood brotherly friend)