Madhoghar Fort, Bassi

Madhoghar Fort, Bassi

The first really cool place the tour stayed was in a small village with a fort converted to a hotel (Madhoghar Fort)! Our room was in a corner of the fort and pretty nice. Some of the other tour members had super fancy bedrooms with tile mosaics and living rooms but we tried not to be too envious. Across from us was a mysterious room with no lock on the door which was slightly ajar. Of course we couldn’t contain our curiosity and wandered in. It was a guest room under construction / in disuse. The bath tub was full of dust and broken boards, there was no furniture and in what should have been the bedroom was a Hindu shrine. Seems like it had been used lately since there were ashes and soot and an idol. Almost every home in India has a Hindu shrine. Incense,  flowers, marigolds… often the idol is painted orange with so many coats of paint that the shape is no longer recognizable. That evening we had a really fancy supper. The ladies got whisked away to a private room to get dressed by a local village lady into fancy clothes. After a few tries to get my buxom frame into a top we had success.  Then we were paraded downstairs to the courtyard where a fire was burning and the men sadly had only poorly wrapped turbans as their costume (with their regular clothes of course … not JUST the turban). Some of the ladies had to change immediately due to their arms getting the circulation cut off. I think maybe they need to invest in bigger sizes....
Tearjerker Taj Mahal

Tearjerker Taj Mahal

​The next morning at the ungodly hour of 5 am we assembled at the train station to catch a train to see the Taj Mahal. We were still putting our luggage on the overhead bins when the smell of smoke started sliding into our nostrils. It got strong then I heard  an authorotativel voice say “evacuate the train slowly! Take your small bags” so I grabbed my backpack and politely started walking out. This small woman started shoving me from behind and telling me to hurry and I told her I was exiting sensibly at which point she turned onto George Costanza and shoved her way in front of everyone. And that boys and girls is how crowd crushes happen. We assembled on the station and watched a dude spray fire extinguisher in the top of our train car. I saw the shoving lady who was part of another tour group. I gave her the stink eye but she wouldn’t look at me. There was confusion about where to go after but we managed to get seats on a neighboring car. I wasn’t about to get back on the toxic car. We were only 15 minutes in leaving lol. It was surprisingly foggy outside, something I wasn’t expecting. We checked into the hotel then visited a carpet factory. They gave us samosas for lunch then gave us the hard sell. We got tea and sat down on the couches. Then they unrolled many many carpets. For hand knotted carpets that take many months they were surprisingly affordable. But nobody bought one then they started walking out which made me uncomfortable....
Delhi in which Beth dances Bangra on new years

Delhi in which Beth dances Bangra on new years

​One week ago which seems like forever ago i arrived in delhi. I was picked up at the airport and delivered to my hotel. I had a whole day to kill which was fine by me. I just took it easy,  caught up on email,  chatted with my sweetie and got some laundry done. I wandered around for a couple of hours and checked out the local markets.  The traffic was pretty mental but I stayed on the smaller streets. It was nice not to get hustled by the touts as this is not really a touristy area. I waited for Jes to show up for what seemed like forever on new years eve. At about 11:45 I went to the lobby because I was confident she would arrive before midnight and she did! With 10 minutes to spare.  I took her up to the room and as she was unpacking the clock struck midnight and we hugged. I let her settle in for a few minutes then dragged her next door to the bar for a drink. There were some locals there dancing to Bangra music and of course we had to join in. They really enjoyed that and hooted and hollered and of course took selfies of us… in exchange I took selfies too. We met three members of our tour group there too having some drinks. We toasted the new year in with some indian whisky. They were great fun. Maybe it was mean of me but I dragged Jes out on the Metro the following day. We had most of the day to kill since our...
Backwaters of kerala in which no booze was to be found

Backwaters of kerala in which no booze was to be found

​After an air conditioned “local” bus full of other white people we arrived in Allepy which is the center for backwater boat tourism. Our guest house was in a lovely dutch heritage home run by a very sweet man who always seemed to be hustling business on the phone. We saw the Indian business network in full force here. They all employ family members and friends for drivers restaurants etc. one of whom was a very attractive man named Sheffi who told us how he wasn’t married and didn’t have kids because he wanted to live his life free and party in secret. Well turns out he’s a total liar. Married with two children. I was really mad at being lied to like that. I called him out on it later and I could see him squirming then he decided to stick with the lie and adamantly deny he was married. Carrie confirmed later he’s a big fat liar.  Just remove the plants,  honking,  garbage,  heat, and rickshaws and this could be Amsterdam! We went on a search for food the first night which is harder than it sounds. We were in an isolated area so had to walk in the dark past gangs of young men all just hanging out and looking at us pass. We ended up at a tourist restaurant but waited an hour for our order to be taken. The only other option was a muslin restaurant full of only men which was super weird and intimidating. We ended up storming out without ordering and ate chips for dinner. Also frustrating was the fact that no...

Fort Kochin in which puppies were saved

​The train was about an hour late in leaving. This time I got our reservation correct and there were no hiccups along the way.  Each compartment on 2nd class trains has stacked mattresses/seats like bunk beds. During the night two people climb up and sleep on the hard beds. Sheets are provided which seem clean enough even though there were some black hairs stuck to mine. Our bunk mates were very nice… an Indian family complete with grandpa and two children currently living in Dallas Texas working for Philips. I had to pee twice during the night which totally sucked. And my curtain by the door kept getting stuck in the door letting all the light in. People were going back and forth to the toilet all night. There were only indian style squat toilets which can be challenging to use while rocking on a train. You have to yoink your pants in such a way that they don’t touch the icky floor.  They were nowhere near as dirty as I was led to expect. Maybe we got lucky? We were supposed to meet a friend of a friend for breakfast since we had a few hours in bangalore but he didn’t make it. I’m still not quite sure why. So we had some spicy breakfast in the train station and found the bus to the airport ourselves. It was pretty easy. Our plane was delayed a few hours due to fog/smog so we splurged a while $10 and bought admission to the VIP lounge. It was so awesome! Free wifi free buffet and lazyboy chairs! And $12 wine....