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Tall Tales of an Adventuring Prima Donna "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So...Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

Travelling India -- 101

INDIA | Friday, 6 June 2008 | Views [3836] | Comments [7]

Diet

I never thought I would be able to eat as a vegetarian. 

But, thats the thing about India -- you have to constantly alter your reality and perspective as to where you are in the present moment.

In MY present moment, I don't trust the meat here!  

Beef is not eaten, as the cow is a sacred animal here.  And even if it wasn't, I don't think I could stomach eating the cows who I see surviving off of garbage in the street and anything they can find, including plastic bags, dead animals, flowers off of prayer temples, their own feces, etc.  To be quite honest, I don't know if I'll ever want a hamburger or steak again!

The chickens are scrawny and I fear they might carry Avian Flu, and the lamb meat I've had has been so tough that I wonder if it is really lamb at all...!!??? 

How am I to be sure the 'lamb' shish kebob I'm having for dinner isn't really one of the many feral dogs you see everywhere -- like "Fredito," the puppy Ali and I adopted as our own and named while in Goa. 

So, I've been dining on lots of thalis (lentil dal, white rice, curried veggies, and a salty yogurt which is called curd).  I also find myself eating their version of crepes and pancakes (I call them pancrepes because they are too thin for a pancake and too thick for a yummy crepe -- texture a bit doughy, but good enough to satisfy a sweet tooth) which are flavored with nutella and honey-banana.  When I'm in a more modern city, I will be a bit more adventurous with the local sweet shops and restaurants.  But, I find that my being so careful has prevented me from developing a long bout of travellers illness/diarrhea -- which is almost impossible here.  I've seen so many people get ill and have to retire to their hot rooms where the fans don't work for days of recovery. 

Imagine feeling like you're on your deathbed, and it's 130 degrees outside!  I'll just choose to be careful, and continue brushing my teeth with bottled water...hoping I can prolong the inevitable unfortunate stomach explosion. 

Dress

Have I lost weight?...A little, but I think that also has to do with toting around that heavy backpack I often speak about. 

As I leave behind books I've read and the art supplies I find that I'm not using, I seem to be accumulating an equal portion of weight from various cotton and linen tunics and trousers -- which I've had to buy because of the extreme heat ...and discovery that I should be dressing more modestly when I am on my own and not with the company of other travellers around me who could potentially divert the attention of the harassing men throughout all of India.

So, vanity as I know it is out the window. 

Instead, there seems to be a sort of "traveller's chic" among the backpackers.  

This includes a lot of long and short-sleeved lightweight cotton tunics, cotton headwraps and hemp headbands, fisherman's pants, and long cotton/ silk skirts.  If you are a woman, you always want to carry a thin cotton scarf to cover your shoulders if they're exposed.

As a woman, you'll still get harassed, but not as much as you will if you are not properly dressed.  Badri, a small Indian boy I befriended in Varanasi approached me and said, "Family will beat Indian girl to death if she wear what you wear." 

It's crazy to me, because the Indian woman wear these beautiful, sexy sarees that expose the midriff.  Though, in their culture, this belly area is where the "guts" are and therefore, not sexy at all. 

Well, if dressing appropriately to blend in will put me out of harm's way, then it's the least I can do.

So, frumpy trousers and tie-dyed hippie tunics are welcome!  Backpackers' over-the-top dreadlocks and excessive piercings are not.

Safety

Being groped in the ocean by an Indian man amongst his cheering friends was not a pleasant experience for me. 

I was travelling in Goa at the time and assumed that because it was a very touristic destination -- where Western dress and bathingsuits where deemed acceptable attire by all the travellers' reports I'd read. 

This man amongst his juvenile friends dived underneath a wave and pretended that the wave knocked him AND his hand toward my backside.  Not fun...but the good thing was I already learned how to say "GO AWAY" in Hindi.  After I firmly told him to get lost..."Jull-lo!", a Swiss man nearby had witnessed the episode and gave them a few threatening words and a glance that caused them to scurry with their tails between their legs. 

The uncivilized and rural Indian men, in general, have not been fun (On the other side, I have met a FEW respectful and friendly Indian men).

Of course, I am generalizing here from my own experience, but I have been harassed, groped, and even watched through a peephole through the wall of my thatched-roof coconut hut in Goa.  I fixed the hole with a mini-stapler and a flattened box of chewing gum, covering the hole in my wall that appeared out of nowhere while I was sleeping. When I reported the incident, the management didn't seem to care...and I am left to assume it was a good possibility it was one of them anyway!  Good thing I brought my mini stapler, eh?  It pays to be prepared with a few essentials that make life a little bit easier. 

Besides ignoring the men and walking around with a newly developed "Eat Shit" look when I am completely alone on buses and trains, I often wear my dark sunglasses and have gotten pretty good at telling them sternly to go away...."Jull-lo."

Besides the men, I am careful of the deadly traffic all around me.  Remember, I already witnessed a boy getting hit by one of the buses I was on.  Death by traffic is common in India and I'll certainly do whatever I can to stay safe, even if it means to hire the rickshaw to take me across the street!

 

Comments

1

Your pics are beautiful!

A Kiku update .. She speaks! She says "Whaaaat?" and "Hi" .. so far thats all I can understand :P She also goes out adventuring everyday with me :P We've hit up Times Square and Central Park and Giant Stadium ... she's been very well socialized and has even hit the media! She was playing with Charlie Sheen's ex-wife and we ended up in People Magazine, she and I were interviewed on Comedy Central, and even seen with the latest American Idolists! She is completely flight trained too! Its awesome running down the street as she flies above me and then she suddenly lands and freaks everyone out! :P

Well I hope you continue having fun in India!

-Dom

  Dominick Jun 9, 2008 10:58 AM

2

Hey Kid.

I hope the men are treating you better.
The Pics. look great! It looks like such an adventure.
You should learn how to cook some of those great foods your eating. I love indean food!

Thomas

  Thomas Jun 17, 2008 3:35 AM

3

It seems like forever since we left you and Ale behind in Goa, so it is nice to catch up with your latest adventuring. Can't wait to see ya in person again and get all the stories you aren't putting in the blog...

  Richard C. Jun 19, 2008 6:13 AM

4

We miss you Angela and I love your blog. When will you be heading back to the states?

  Vanessa Jun 24, 2008 3:34 AM

5

Ang, you are the bravest person I know. I have so enjoyed reading your journal and looking at your pictures. I do not think I would trade places with you for a millon years--I enjoy my house, car, bathroom, shower, Wal-mart, job, and family too much. But reading about your experiences has just made me appreciate what I have even more. Please be safe and know that my thoughs and prayers are with you always.

  Julie Jul 13, 2008 2:17 AM

6

Just wanted to let you know that I'm constantly thinking of you and can't wait to hear all the amazing stories you have to share!!

I love you!!

  Judy Jul 21, 2008 1:14 PM

7

Wow! You have nothing good to say about India? It seems like you went there expecting something and did not do the research before hand. Besides these superficial yet deep-seeded patriarchal issues and hot weather and scrawny chickens, India's culture is beautiful and people are humble. I am sad you did not get a chance to see that through your skewed vision of India.

  S May 11, 2013 12:45 PM

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