A Travellerspoint blog

Shopped till we dropped (India Part 4)

Howdy Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in updates. The nerve of PPD....they make me work so hard throughout the day that I fall asleep by 9pm every night. How the heck do they expect me to give silly updates to family and friends that way? I just might have to submit a complaint, I don't know.

OK so where was I? Shopped till we dropped...... I

think that I must have picked up the wrong bags at the airport when I arrived on the 16th, because apparently the venders think I'm Ms. Money Bags, when I'm really Ms. Bills Bags.

We hired a driver for the day last Sunday to take us shopping and touring (it's less than $40 to hire a driver for the day around here). So he takes us to this shop like 10 minutes into the journey. We think, "Cool! We can get the day started with some browsing and then decided what we want to purchase as the day goes on." Silly, Silly, naive tourists we were.

First off, I don't think, "I'm just looking," translates very well to the Indian population. Also, I don't think, "No," translates well, either. When I got here, I was told that the Indian venders are worse than those in Mexico. Well, someone should have told me to run down to Mexico before this trip so that I could prep myself for what was to come. I was blind sided.

I thought, I'd like to get a few trinkets for people, maybe check on getting a scarf or two. By the time I walked out of that little shop, I was dazed, confused, and a couple hundred lighter. I started off looking at the wood carvings, then I made the mistake of asking about a Cashmere scarf. The guy pulled down half of the shop to set on the counter for me to chose from. I asked how much the 100% Cashmere was and he gave me a price that was the equivalent to $210. I said no thanks. Usually, this would end the discussion, but no. He proceeded to tell me that since I was his first customer of the day that he wanted to work with me. ("Give me a chance" was his favorite phrase all morning.) He also kept saying over and over how he wanted to give me a good deal because he wanted me to keep coming back. I told him that I appreciated what he was saying but that I would not pay $210 for a shawl. Then, he wanted me to come upstairs. I thought I was going to see more material. He had me sit at this counter and proceeded to start showing me jewelry pieces. He made me decide what style I liked while I kept telling him that I wasn't buying jewelry. I had to finally tell him, "Do you see any jewelry on me?" Thankfully, he got the hint and put the jewels away. I thought we were headed back downstairs...but no. He took me to the Persian rug area. I told him that I didn't need a rug. Then he started pulling out dining room table runners and placemats. I told him that I didn't even have a dining room table at the moment. I told him that the merchandise was great, but there was only so much money in my bank account and that no matter how great he did on his sales pitch, my bank card would not allow me to purchase jewelry, Persian rugs, dining room table runners, or 100% Cashmere! He hung his head as though I had just told him there was no Santa Claus.

But 2 seconds later....

I got suckered and bought a bedspread. It's really nice, though!! It's a silk, hand-woven, duvet cover. I talked him way down on the price. I thought I was the rock star of haggling!

And then.....

he suckers me into a couple of more scarves and a wooden carving, so I think he really won that round.

I walked downstairs and Gay, my co-worker, looked at me and shook her head. We each looked like we had been hit by a bus called The Indian Salesman. She walked out just as light in the pocket-book as I did. It was sad because we had shopped for 1 hour and already the money was done for the day.

Silly, silly, naive American tourists!!! *tisk* *tisk*

Posted by Lori V 20:27 Archived in India Tagged shopping Comments (0)

The Spice of Life...hmmm (India Part 3)

I had only been in Mumbia for 4 days and the food culture shock started kicking in. I spent hours wandering up and down the isles of grocery stores muttering to myself, desperate to find something bland.

Was it so hard to carry at least a package of cold cuts? How about some turkey meat? It didn’t even have to be "smoked" or "honey glazed". I would have even gone for ham or chicken. All I wanted was some good old bland American food, but that seemed to be the stuff that you could only get on the black market. Even the Ramen noodles only came in Spicy Masala style.

On Day 5 of the India trip, I decided to order some take-out while working at the office. Chicken Tikka Masala was my tried and true favorite Indian dish. I was very specific when placing the order. It had to be mild. Well, mild in the states and mild in India aren't exactly the same. I had probably the equivalent of 3, maybe 4 bites of the stuff. It was way too spicy for me even after the first bite, but I didn't want to be a wuss (yep, denial) and proceeded with bites 2, 3 and 4.

Now, I need you to visualize.

Think of a Roman candle.

Now think of a Roman candle lit, its beautiful stars of light bursting forth every few seconds.

Now, imagine accidentally swallowing that Roman candle.

Just when you think the fireworks are over, it launches more pyrotechnics. My stomach was on fire, and then it wasn't, and then it was again, and then it wasn't, and then it was.....over and over.

The rest of the afternoon, I had a very hard time concentrating on work because every other thought in my head was, "I will not throw up in a foreign country." "I will not be a typical tourist and get sick and throw up in a foreign country." "I'm half Mexican for heaven's sake! Spice should be in my blood, so I will not throw up in a foreign country!!!"

Never under estimate the power of positive thinking, because I was able to get through the rest of the day without causing a really icky, noisy and embarrassing scene. I was glad, too, because the bathrooms at work were kind of echo-y and I'm sure the whole office would have known exactly how much my stomach doesn't like pseudo-mild Chicken Tikka Masala.

I felt like it was a conspiracy. This whole country couldn’t really have the lead stomachs required to eat those spices daily, right? I think when the receptionist ordered our food for us, she secretly whispered that I was an American and asked them to go all “Emeril” on my masala...BAM, BAM, BAM.

The people here in the office probably took bets on how long it would take for us silly Americans to start turning green. I bet they got bonus winnings if they witnessed one of us in an all out sprint to the bathroom.

Well, I showed them. No money was won off of me, that day!

After that experience, I stuck to KFC, Pizza Hut, and granola bars.

Yes, my name is still Lori, and I'm still a wuss.

Posted by Lori V 20:26 Archived in India Tagged food Comments (0)

We aren't in Kansas..er..Texas anymore (India Part 2)

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Thank Heaven for Hotel Pick-up Service...

We arrived in Mumbai, went through customs, found our little guy with the Rodas Hotel sign and were on our way. However, somewhere along the way, my co-worker's Bose headphones went missing. She mistakenly put them on the outside of her bag. Big oops! You must keep an eye on your stuff, otherwise, things tend to go missing in big crowds.

OK. So we get into this little bitty car and this driver has to manuver through hords of other cars and auto-rickshaws. Just our experience in the the parking lot would have been enough to send my mom into cardiac arrest, much less the actual commute. I wondered why the side mirrors of the car were pushed in on the car when I first got in. After 10 seconds of being in the car, though, I realized that the couple of inches that would be added with the mirrors could be disasterous in a place like this. There were a few times that we were just millimeters from plowing into someone.

I've driven in New York, Boston. LA, etc., but there would be NO WAY in H-E- __-__ that I would ever attempt it here. I came to the conclusion that driving lanes are more symbolic than anything else. And traffic lights are more decoration than anything else. And horns are turn signals, otherwise known as, "Hey Buddy, I'm going to turn right in front of you, so I'm honking my horn for you to stop even though I do not have the right of way!" You know the disaster flicks where everyone is trying to get out of a city in a hurry and cars are just all over the place, not using signals or lanes and there are sometimes like 5 cars right next to each other and they are all pointing in a different direction and no one is going anywhere? Well, now I understand what that would feel like. I kept having to tell myself to take deep relaxing breaths and to unclench my teeth. I could have lost a few molars, otherwise. But we managed to make it to the hotel safe and sound with all of our limbs still attached.

And now I'm just chilling in the hotel trying to figure out how I'm going to blow dry my hair without an adapter (the hotel said that the rooms had hair dryers on it's web site, but I guess that must cost extra) and how to iron my clothes without an ironing board and iron (hmm, what a predicament).

But I'll deal with that in the morning.

Over and out

Posted by Lori V 20:18 Archived in India Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Off we go. Into the wild blue yonder...(India - Part 1)

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Well Everybody, I haven't even gotten out of the country yet and I'm already going stir crazy. We had a 4 hour flight to JFK and now we have a 5 hour layover in New York.

When we got here, we took the air train the wrong direction and decided to just stay on it until it looped back around. However, it was not a good idea because the line ended in Jamaca Queens. That is where Lisa`s grandparents used to live and I knew I was sooo close to this yummy little place that sells Jamacan Meat Pies and I couldn`t get off the dang train!!!

We had all of our luggage with us, otherwise I totally would have jumped off that train and found that meat pie shop! We had 5 hours, so time wouldn`t have been an issue. However, walking around Jamaca Queens pushing one of those airport carts full of luggage for a month would have definitely caused a few curious looks, I think.

I think the meat pies and the universe are mocking me since this is like the 3rd time I've been within a mile of them and not been able to stop by! Blasted Meat Pies! Blasted!

Think of us while you are all in your comfy beds tonight while we are suspended somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, or over Spain, or the southern tip of Italy, or the south of Greece, or the Mediteranian Sea, or Syria, or Iraq (ok...now deleting my mom from the update list), or Iran or the Persian Sea. Wow!!! This is going to be a long freakin` trip!!! More to come!

Posted by Lori V 08:09 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

I Still Want to Be a Part of It. New York. New York!

Jane Survives The Big City

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Day 2 in NYC was a good day. We could have asked for a bit more of the blue skies, but at least it wasn't freezing. My mom and I started off getting a taxi to Central Park. We were at the south entrance of Central Park where the tour began. We were right across the street from the famous Plaza Hotel. (by the way, The Plaza is closed for renovations and it will no longer be a hotel. It will now be condos when it re-opens.) If you have a few million bucks, check it out.

We traveled around on our double-decker bus looking at the sights. We stopped in Time Square and got to go into the M&M Store, shop for souveniers, and got a little wet from the rain.

The tour went on to proceed downtown through Greenwich Village and China Town and then up the Eastern side of Manhattan Island. I didn't get a bunch of pictures while on the bus because they all came out blurry since we were moving at the time. The experience was amazing getting to see all the sights. Our tour guide was great and she told us all kinds neat tid bits of info about the city.

Then, we ate at this really cute little cafe called Cinema Cafe. It was a tapas bar and it was so cozy. Loved it. It's on 60th, just east of Madison Avenue. Try it.

On our final day, we went to the World Trade Center Site. It was moving and the tributes were great. There is a new Tribute Center on the south side that we didn't get to see since it didn't open on Sunday until 12pm. I'd like to go back and see it. The proposed Freedom Tower and Memorial looks like it will be a magnificent sight to see. I hope to see it someday, too.

All in all, the trip was great. Mom will have great things to talk about for months to come.

Happy Trails!!

Posted by Lori V 08:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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