Friday, June 20, 2008

The Attack of the Pooping Monkeys

At about 5:30 one morning I woke up to what sounded like someone walking outside my door, this was then followed by a low growling sound, like a small dog would make. As I slowly rise up in the bed, obviously somewhat alarmed, I hear what sounds like someone's hand on the door lever, so at first I just thought it was the guy bringing tea and since he had just walked on in once before I thought maybe he was going to forego the whole knocking thing and just enter.

Well at that point the door handle did in fact turn all the way and the door swung open about 4 inches or so and was followed by that shall we say disconcerting growling sound again. Now I'm in full freak out mode as I'm realizing that there is something definately non-human out there and 1. it had just managed to open my door...surprising and 2. it did NOT sound friendly.

Now the adrenaline is really pumping as I jump from the bed clothed only in my boxers and slam the door shut. This is followed by more growling and scrabbling at the door and the freakiest thing is I can feel this creature trying to turn the handle. Well my mind is racing trying to wake up and figure out what the hell is going on, I mean I'm thinking this is just a dog but dogs don't turn handles!?

At this point I'm looking out the window trying to get a glimpse of whatever it is that is trying to get itself into my room but I can't see anything. I check the door peephole but there's nothing. Then I slowly turn to the window on the other wall as I am on the room at the end and as I press my face up to the glass for a better angle, suddenly this furry face appears in the window astonishingly close causing me to simultaneously wet myself and scream like a girl.

Suddenly the mind kicks in, they're monkeys and there must be at least a half dozen of them as I hear them running past the windows and there's still one trying the door. "What do they want?" I wonder as I finally figure out how to lock the door and I race to make sure the windows are secured. As I get to one window I see a rather large monkey sitting on the ledge and I scream "Go Away" and he jumps up and scratches at the window.

Ok, that's it! Now I've gone from scared outta my mind to pissed off mode and I'm looking for a little payback. That's when I notice a lighter sitting on the table. Ah Ha! That's it! What separates man from animals...Fire! So I grab my little aresol can of body spray and think I'll make a homemade flame thrower like we used to do when we were kids and I'll show this little apeass punk who's at the top of the so called evolutionary ladder.

Armed with the lighter in one hand and the body spray in the other I do a little one, two, three countdown and throw the door open screaming like Rambo with an AK-47 under each arm.

Its here I realize that chemical companies have come a long way in the 20 years since I was a kid in making comsumer products safer and keeping stupid children from blowing themselves up. Sooo...instead of toasting thier primate asses with an impressive ball of flame all I ended up doing was deoderizing the little bastards. Fortunatly they didn't seem to appreciate the sex appeal of Tag body spray and they scattered.

They did, however, leave me a little present, as you can see from the picture I took after I was sure the coast was clear. It would appear that all they wanted was some toilet paper so they could wipe their little monkey butts after having a little monkey poo. Somehow things just sound funnier when you say "monkey" in front of them.

India Roadsign Quote of the Day:

"Whiskey is Risky, Drink and Drive Carefully"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Delhi to Shimla

So...after the fun filled adventure that was Air India I thought maybe I'd be in for a break, you know, maybe things would go smoothly from here on in...but alas, it was not to be. As I mentioned I arrived quite late into Dehli but was able to get through immigration and customs without a problem and, due to the late hour, fairly quickly. I felt sorry for the poor cabbie who had been sent to pick me up as he had apparently been there waiting for me for close on 5 hours. He seemed to take it all in stride though and away we went through the dark and quite dusty streets of New Delhi to a hotel where I was shown to a room and promptly crashed out.

Only to be abruptly awoken at 6am with a knock on the door informing me that my taxi would be there at 7am to take me to the bus terminal where I would board a bus for Shimla, the town in the Himalayan foothills where I'd be taking my computer certification course. So, surprisingly prompt, I was whisked away to the bus station, which I must say looked like it had seen some better 75 years ago. But a bus station it was and so I loaded the bus and again, things moved fairly efficiently as the bus rolled out only about 15 minutes after its scheduled departure. Cool, I thought, things are moving along ok. And things did, in fact move along ok...that is...until we hit a town called Chandigarh, not sure about the spelling on that. But that's when traffic hit a brick wall, we honestly didn't move more than 5 feet in almost an was mind numbing. But just like I alluded too, Air India was just an intro to the patience building exercise that is travel in India.

After we finally cleared the traffic jam, and trying to describe a traffic jam here is like trying to explain why lemmings follow one another over a cliff, you see it happening but it just doesn't make any sense. Anyway, after we cleared the traffic jam, it was straight up into the mountains, and not just any mountains, we're talking the Himalayan mountains...the tallest mountain range in the world. And trust me, it lives up to its reputation. They consider these the "foothills" but I don't see anything "hilly" about these honest to goodness mountains. In fact, Shimla, the town where I'm taking my course is at 7100 feet, so if that's a foothill than the mountains we have back in Virginia are mere anthills.

Although we were about 3 hours late, at least we did manage to make it into Shimla safe and sound, which is saying something considering how our driver was driving a full size Volvo bus on these curvy roads like he was behind the wheel of a Ferrari in a TV commercial.

Stay tuned for more on the interesting town of Shimla and its wicked wildlife...

India Roadsign Quote of the Day:
"Haryana Police: Better late than never"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Air India

I know I haven't posted in awhile but that's because I've been quite busy gearing up for my trip to India. Which happens to be where this post is being sent from though it was written earlier. As you might imagine finding a way to post whilst abroad can be a challenge. But anyway here we go with part 1. How I came to be in this facinating land.


I actually traveled through Singapore in order to get to New Delhi so thats where this picks up, in the Singpore airport to be exact. Waiting, and waiting, and then waiting a little more, for good ole reliable (cough cough) Air India to finally decide to take off. I actually traveled through Singapore in order to get to New Delhi so thats where this picks up, in the Singpore airport to be exact. Waiting, and waiting, and then waiting a little more, for good ole reliable (cough cough) Air India to finally decide to take off.


We were scheduled to depart Singapore at 4:25 pm which upon arrival at the airport I found out had been bumped to 7:25 pm. Ok...I now have 3 hours to kill in an airport, but fortunately I was not in just any old airport I was in the Singpore airport which is a tourist destination in its own right. So I took advantage of the free internet and foot massage as well as the complimentary meal ticket the airline gave out as a token of goodwill. I walked up to the restaurant to claim my free meal and was asked if I prefered #$%^$ or the *&&#@!...yeah that's about how much of it I understood. The guy took one look at my blank face and was like "is this your first time to India?" uh yeah and I got a ton to learn about this food unless I wanna eat nothing but chicken curry for a month.


The gentleman helped me to select the utthabam (hope I spelt that right) bread meal with a tomato sauce and a coconut based sauce to dip it in and some lentil soup, ok, not so bad, I'm feeling all Indian and I haven't even left Singapore yet.


Then on to gate C16 as it says right here on my boarding pass. But, after walking allll the way down the looong C corridor I arrive at an empty gate. Whoa cool, I'm the only one going to India today...wait a minute, there's a sign saying gate changed to D41. Huh!? Lets just say if C16 were good ole Richmond Virginia then they were asking me to walk to Richmond California, in like 10 minutes.


So I haul ass to the waiting area where they do the security screening and took my shaving gel?? Mind you it had made it through like 3 airports already but whatever. In the waiting room area at the gate is where things get fun and I learn a few cultural tidbits. First of all an Indians idea of personal space and my idea of it are quite different.  They seem quite happy to bunch all up at the gate door, so much so that the lady at the gate was like "you know there's plenty of room over there, like where that white guy is sitting". They seemed to take a quick glance and decided, nope there was just too much space between them and the coveted gate.


The other thing that strikes me is how they all decided to completly disregard the stated directions. The lady comes on the loud speaker and clearly states that they will be boarding rows 18 through 32, in fact she says this a few times. So the entire waiting room jumps up and forms this massive chaotic line leaving yours truly as the only one still seated. Yippe! This must mean that I'm the only one in rows 1 through 18! Wow, I'm going to have SO much room, 18 rows all to myself, what luck. I hope all 250 of you aren't too crowded back there in those 14 little rows.


Now I must acknowlege here that it's becoming quite clear that I am the ONLY white dude...check that, I'm pretty sure I'm the only non-Indian on this flight and I am feelin my minority status big time.


Well somehow or other everyone manages to get on the plane but because I followed directions there's nowhere for me to stow my luggage so its between the legs for 5 and a half hours I guess. But as I'm walking to my seat in ROW 8 after everyone else in rows 1-32...grumble grumble... I notice a few things that cause some consternation on my part. Let's just say that well...any plane that still has a working ashtray has probably been around for awhile...hmm...didn't they ban smoking on airlines in the 70's?


Apparently you do not have to worry about being late for an Air India flight.Good news if you're the ONE late person, bad news if you're the ENTIRE REST OF THE PLANE. We were supposed to leave at 7:25pm right...we left at 8pm "because we're waiting for another passenger". Ai had better be Mahatma Ghandi himself to keep us waiting that long.


After reaching our cruising altitude I was treated to my first Bollywood movie.Which I have to say I was pretty impressed with, I can see why this stuff is becoming so popular the world over. It was a funny little flick about 4 mental patients called Krazzy 4. Granted it might not have been so politically correct in the West but we get uptight about that kind of thing too much anyways if you ask me. I dunno if you'd call it a comedy or a musical though cuz every now and then they'd suddenly burst into song and dance routines which were unexpected but quite catchy.


Eventually the steward came around asking if I'd like a drink, he suggested a whiskey...well shoot, if you're buyin I say, why not. So he asks "how many do you want, 3, 4?" and I'm thinking wow, this guy wants to get me drunk so I say "I think two should be sufficent". It wasn't until the end of the flight as I was slipping into a dehydrated coma that I realized why he asked how many I wanted...cuz that's the ONLY time you will see his ass, so you'd better get while the gettins good.


Finally our trusty old plane landed in New midnight (it was supposed to be there at 7pm).  Ah well...little did I know that this was only going to be the beginning of the patience building exercise that is traveling in India. But stay tuned for more on that later...


Air India Quote of the Day:


"Would all passengers seated in rows 18 through 32 please board the plane at this time, that's rows 18 through 32! If you are not seated in rows 18 through 32 please remain seated and wait to board the aircraft until we call your row...Thank you for your cooperation."