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Past Due India Updates - RonO's Ramblings

Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:08 am Past Due India Updates

It has been more than a week since I last reported anything about my trip, and (as ann_totusek pointed out to Tara yesterday at the DucKon meeting) I'm quite behind in reporting.

So here is a summary of some of the things that have been going on. I'm putting in lots of cuts so you can skip what your not interested in.

There isn't much to say about work. The training has been going well, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit. Today we had a bit of a problem with the computers -- I'm training in a different room than last week -- and a plug adaptor issue, but that really has been the only problems.

I've had a wide variety of food on this trip, most of it regional Indian food. The nicer restaurant here at the Palm Meadows, Rajgarh, hosted an food festival for nine nights, starting the Friday I arrived and ending last Saturday. Each night featured a set menu -- actually two set menus, one veg and one non-veg -- from a different region. I ate there five of the nine nights, but can only remember where the food was from three of the nights. The first night was from Bengal. The last two nights (the only two nights in a row I went) were mughal and hydrabadi. I know one of the nights I missed was Goan. In addition to the food, each night they had live entertainment from the region, and were dressed typically of that region (if it could be distinguished from other Indian traditional dressing).

Each night I really enjoyed what I had, but could not tell you what I ate for the most part. I had a soup, several small curries with some rice and a desert or two each night. The only items that really stand out are one of the deserts from the first night, which were small, crisp, sweets made of mostly honey that were formed into something that look a bit like a small funnel cake. The other was a curry from Hyderbad that was a cold yogurt and cucumber curry that reminded me strongly of a sauce for Gyros (and a lot of the reason I'm not fond of them).

Tonight I went to Rajgrah for the first, and at least for this trip last, time and got my first look at their regular menu. I had a curry with chicken seasoned with pomegranates which was very good. However, since I was trying to eat it traditionally, with my right hand, I ended up needing extra nan. I also noticed that the staff pays attention to their customers. When I had a large selection and pretty much had to eat it with a fork or spoon, they never brought me a finger bowl, but when I ate most of my dinner by hand, the finger bowl came out.

I've had other good food, both downstairs at the coffee shop and elsewhere. Even the Motorola cafeteria has been good (or at least to me). Outside of the hotel and the most interesting meal I had was at a place in the Guarda Mall called Kobe Sizzler or Kobe Bites. This is a chain out of Mumbai, that features meals that on the surface resemble fajitas. I had their Satellite Chicken, which had chicken, mushrooms, vegetables and potato pieces sizzling on a hot plate covered in cheese and a cream sauce.

Saturday, after checking a bunch of guides, I decided what I needed to do was go to the Guadra Mall. While there I made a big purchase, a smaller purchase, and got some needed tolitries.

First, I went into the Van Husen store and found a new suit. This is an Italian cut suit in a dark gray with a few pin stripes. At least when paired with the shirt and tie they found (and also sold to me), it looks -- at least to my often self-disparaging eyes -- very sharp. It was just this morning that I realized I should have had the clerk take a picture (I had my camera with me) so that I could show people before I get a chance to wear it.

I also decided on what I could get Derrick. Most of the toys that I could get him wouldn't be unique, and he can't really play with any crafted items. Then I remembered what my sister has gotten him twice, and what we got for him in Scotland. So once I get home he'll have four different national team shirts, from four countries in three different sports. I've added to his Argentina and Brazil Football (soccer) shirts, and his Scotland Rugby shirt, an Indian Cricket shirt. I'll probably have to try to explain Cricket to him -- and may only be able to say it sort of like baseball, but not much.

I thought about, but didn't get, a set of traditional Indian men's clothing, mostly since I'm not sure where I'd wear it. However, since I'll be much closer to the mall and may well go back, I may consider it again.

On Sunday, I stopped at the Forum Mall (which I keep wanting to call the Forum Shops, but I know that they are in Las Vegas) and picked up a couple of polo shirts from an Arrow store after realizing that I'd miscalculated and was going to run out of shirts before I could send any to the laundry.

Having elected to go shopping, I didn't end up doing much tourist stuff. I did go to the Laghba Gardens on Sunday. They are very nice, but like a lot of stuff in India, they are a bit worn in places. I got a fair number of pictures, mostly taken by the guide I overpaid so I'm in them,

Due to a reservation problem, tomorrow I'm moving from the Palm Meadows Club -- the 72 room hotel at the swim and tennis club in the middle of a very well respected gated community -- to the Taj Residency. I'm not looking forward to the change in commute. The Palm Meadows are much closer to work, and are further out from the city center which makes for a fairly quick commute. The Taj is downtown. So my commute will probably go from 15 minutes in the morning (so quick I'm usually at the office before the time I'm supposed to be picked up -- my driver is usually 15-20 minutes early) to 40 minutes to an hour. My evening commute will probably go from 20-30 minutes to over an hour.

I am also worried about packing for home since at this moment both bags are bulging. But I've got enough stuff in the wrong place that I'm not too worried. Plus I have a six-pack of diet coke and some oranges that will be gone before I leave and I should have more clean clothes and fewer dirty cloths (Wednesday is laundry day since that is the day I left and I get laundry once a week on expenses) which may reduce the space.

Although I'm not looking forward to the longer commute, I'm thinking I may take advantage of the proximity and have the driver take me to the Guadra Mall on Wednesday or Thursday and do a bit more shopping.

I've noticed since Saturday there has been a lot of coverage over an American Gubernatorial race here. I fully understand how having the Son of Indian immigrants elected as Governor of Louisiana would make the news, but I've been intrigued by some the coverage.

Not too surprisingly, at least some of the coverage mentions how he is a Christian and has downplayed his Indian roots. But what I did find fascinating is that despite that, the Indian media seems proud. They also found and interviewed a cousin who was obviously a Hindu (or at least had a red mark on his forehead) who mentioned that the extended family in India was planing on celebrating this.

In the West most musical performance is done while standing -- most singing, rock, pop and folk instrument playing, marching, etc. -- or sitting in chairs. In India traditional music is done sitting on the ground. This includes singing and playing western instruments (I've seen a sax player and several violin or viola players on TV).

This also seems to extend, or come out of, religious talking. Where Christian preachers almost always stand, and many now walk back and forth, any Hindu teacher I've seen is sitting cross-legged on the floor.

I think I've covered it all. If I'm not too tired tomorrow I'll try to file another report.

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