Taste of India

I’m just back from my first visit to India – and it was a quick great whirlwind.

First off – saying “my first visit to India” is only slightly less ridiculous than saying “trip to Africa”. India is a country of 1.2B+ people, 29 states, 7 union territories, 22 “scheduled” (or “official”) languages, and as a result is definitely not a unified experience or place.

I was in Delhi for a few days. Delhi itself is a city of cities (including New Delhi), and is home to ~17M+ people. Specifically, I was staying in Gurgaon, one of the “new” cities within Delhi. I had a few short expeditions into other parts of Delhi as well.

This post is basically to give my family a link to photos with some context, not much more than that. Enjoy it (or don’t) for what it is.

Day 1 (linked to photos) – I arrived, checked into the hotel, had an awesome lunch, and headed to Old Delhi to meet a colleague. We checked out the Jama Masjid (a really cool old Mosque), wandered through a mazy bazar, grabbed a rickshaw (aka “tuk tuk”) and ended the day like colonialists, drinking a gin & tonic at the Imperial Hotel. Some video.

Day 2 – We had some team meetings in the morning, and then a colleague and I headed to get a SIM card for a phone we had to test out various local services. What we had hoped/expected would be a simple task turned into a ridiculous (but fun) little adventure around Gurgaon. Apparently one can’t get a SIM anymore without a passport & local address – neither of which we had. After a lovely time bumping reggaeton in a rickshaw driven by “Jaq” all around Gurgaon (including having to stop to get my photo taken at a photo stall, copy my drivers license, and change a flat tire), we got a SIM which was to become active in a “few days”. Ha. Good times. We retired to the hotel to explore, have a pool side drink, and a team dinner out with some local contacts. Some video.

Day 3 – All day meetings with local contacts – our worst smog day yet – and dinner & drinks with local contacts including a too-sweet-Negroni and a SouthAfricanAmerican beer.

Day 4 – We spent the morning working as a team at the hotel with a few short meetings. Then we headed out for streetfood lunch and tourist time in Hauz Khas, a cool area of town built (in an unplanned, chaotic way) around an old fort / castle / school / tomb. Wild parrots & peacocks & peahens were all around (look closely at the photos you may see one). It was super interesting to be around buildings built in the 1200/1300s and have them just be part of the everyday life of people. Some video.

On Saturday, before I left I got hipped to a great book about India – Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal. I grabbed it at the airport – great plane read on the way home!

Some general notes. We were staying a ridiculously lovely hotel, though at a great price. Hotel had yoga every morning, which I took advantage of – heavy on the breathing & chanting – so a nice change of pace from US ashtanga stuff. The smog was also horrible. Dangerous horrible.

I did a little fun project for Elena, taking one of her little toys on the adventure with me. See that adventure here.

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