Published: August 12th 2010July 23rd 2010
I think I'll get over this jet lag about the time I get home. Tonight I actually fell asleep at supper! And the worst part was we were out with two of Jeremy and Mike's colleagues (one from India and the other Russia). I just can't handle 4 engineers at once. About 8 o'clock I told the group I had to close my eyes for a minute and next thing I know Jeremys's waking me up saying they'd just finished their desert and were leaving. I thanked the Russian for a wonderful meal and apologized for falling asleep. I know. Its tacky. How do you apologize for falling asleep while someone is talking?
Ok, let me back up a little bit. Today was my first day on my own with my driver, Annan. This morning one driver picks all three of us up, we drop the guys off at their office, then I'm turned over to a new driver (Annan). Annan receives very specific instructions from his boss about what he's suppose to do with me that day. He tells him exactly where to take me, in what order, where to stop for lunch, etc. I over hear this entire
conversation (most of it in Tamil). Before the boss leaves he tells Annan "and make sure you ALWAYS STAY WITH MADAM." Yippee, we're ready to go....but as soon as I get in the car and shut the door Annan looks at me and says "what does madam want to do today?" I'm thinking "didn't you just have this conversation with your boss?? Duh!" Its like he didn't hear any of it. So we're pulling out of the office parking lot and I'm scrambling to find my India guidebook and figure out what to do. I say "take me to the government museum. oh wait, the book says its closed on Fridays...um, give me a minute to find something else." He insists the museum isn't closed so we drive 45 minutes to get there and...its closed. Ok, scratch that idea. "Just take me shopping at the Village Square." Village Square was highly recommended by locals at the hotel as a great place to shop because local artisans bring their goodies there and they have honest prices. We get to the Village Square and he drops me off at the door and says "You go shop for 10 minutes and I wait."
Well, ten minutes turned into about 2 hours. Annan just sat in the shade talking to somebody and having tea. And I had the most pleasant shopping experience! I was the only customer in there and all their things were really nice. The shopkeeper that tended to me was from Kashmir so he really looked Arabian. As I was shopping and picking out things this young Indian man in bare feet would bring me ice cold Pepsi in a glass bottle on a tray. Then he took me to the basement where they kept the Kashmir rugs and jewelry. In a glass room in the back they had all their gold, silver, gemstones, etc. It felt like a scene from an old movie--me, the American girl, and the Arabian huddled over glass cases of jewels in the basement of a shop bargaining back and forth all the whilst the young Indian boy running in and out with cold Pepsi on a tray for "madam." Yes, I loved every minute of it.
But the best part of the day was next when Annan took me to the beach. More specifically, the Ghandi Beach on the Bay of Bengal. It wasn't
that the beach was beautiful or the sand exceptionally clean. But it finally felt like I was in India. Annan gets out of the car with me and we take a long walk up and down the shore. I take my shoes off and roll up my pants and just stand in the surf getting totally soaked. Its hot and its sunny and its how I imagined India would be; especially when I find a really old fisherman sitting there selling conch shells he just caught. I've tossed my shoes somewhere and my pants are wet and I'm covered in sand and I go and sit by the old fisherman and look at all his shells. I'm sitting there next to this old man and feel so happy to be there. The funny thing is, I was really alone. My driver was standing by but I'd just met him that morning. We sit and look at the shells and watch all the women in saris walk by and the school boys that cut class run around and the dogs that are "danger" dig holes. There's poverty in every direction except right in front of us. I'm so blissful in that
These girls all started giggling when I approached them. They took turns getting their picture taken with me. No wonder I love this place!
spot I remember thinking there was nowhere else I'd rather be at that very moment and perfectly content to be having my moment completely alone. Well, my moment of bliss was short lived when my driver realized the sweet 'ol fisherman was completely ripping me off with the shells. "He make you pay too much madam!" I'm thinking "WHO CARES! I know I'm getting ripped off, just leave me alone to have my moment!!" Annan wouldn't back down and got really upset with the old guy for trying to charge me so much. With the moment having passed we keep walking on and come along a big group of college girls in saris playing in the water. It was just too good to resist so I jumped in with them. Annan is fascinated with my camera so he takes loads of pictures of me! I'll attempt to attach a few.
The rest of the day is filled with sightseeing and eating. He takes me to an Indian restaurant that "has good hygiene." He takes the menu from me and insists on calling his boss so his boss can order for me. What? I think I can figure out a
Ruining My Moment
Annan insists I'm getting ripped off.
menu in English...But it all happened so fast. I'm looking forward to seeing what i'm brought and it turns out to be 3 flour tortillas and a cup of lentil soup to dip them in. I wolf it down in like 2 minutes and look at Annan like "when's the main course coming?" He says "does madam want more??" Well,yeah, madam's really hungry. But I could tell by the way he asked that that was it. At least it was cheap. I bought both of our lunches for maybe $5.
Have any of you seen the movie "The Count of Monte Cristo?" Well, my driver reminded me so much of the count's sidekick. The dark skinned guy with the moustache who says "he owes his life" to the Count. This guy really had my back. It was a little much being called "madam" all day and having someone hold an umbrella for me but I did feel safe.
After work Mike asked him how his day was with me and Annan replied, "I make friend in ONE day!"
So tomorrow should be interesting. I made friends with a girl who works at the hotel and she is going
This woman wanted me to buy her giant shrimp. Instead, I paid to take her picture.
to take me shopping in the morning. I told her I didn't want to go in a car but wanted to ride the bus. "Madam wants to ride the bus??" she said. "Yes, madam wants to ride the bus." "No,madam doesn't want to ride the bus." "Yes, she does." "No she doesn't." "Ok, what does madam want?" "I arrange. You don't worry." So we'll see what happens. I just know I'm suppose to meet her outside the hotel, to the right, in front of the hospital at 10:30 a.m. I think she's getting one of those rickshaws. That will be awesome!
Alright I'm signing out for now. This is probably getting a bit long and wordy for many of my readers, but I'm having so much fun writing it!
There are more photos below