Friday, February 02, 2007


I am freshly back from my first Indian adventure of this trip. A colleague of mine got married last weekend and I along with a few other colleagues got invited to the wedding. So on Sunday, we all pile into an SUV type vehicle and begin the 350 kilometer journey south to a town named Gwalior which sits just a little further south than Agra, the location of the Taj Mahal. 350 miles in Europe would take about 3-4 hours… This trip took us 8. It was a combination of highway, dirt roads, no roads, detours, traffic jams, crowded villages and all of the other things that make travel in India so exciting, frustrating and wonderful. The SUV had a DVD player and screen and it was on the road to Gwalior that I saw my first ever Bollywood movie titled “Krish”. It had everything… Aliens, a superhero with super human powers, a computer that could see the future, the femme fatale, musical numbers and an old lady living in Tibet. What more could one want? I was fully and completely entertained for the 3 hours of the film, and while it was mostly in Hindi with sprinkling of English and maybe even a line or two of Chinese (The story takes place for a while in Singapore) I was able to follow the plot thanks to the real-time translation of my fellow travelers.

After 8 hours of switching seats and being jostled around to the point where I was absolutely certain my internal organs had all be rearranged and my life had flashed before my eyes enough times that I started getting bored with the reruns, we arrived in Gwalior and soon found our hotel. No sooner do we pile out of the car than I and two colleagues of mine are informed that not only will we be sharing one tiny little room, but we would also be sharing the small bed. None of us were amused and quickly 2 other rooms quickly became available and disaster was once again narrowly avoided.

The next morning, we went to Gwalior Mela, a massive market to do some shopping and find some wedding juttis for a few of us who had decided to attend the wedding in traditional Indian attire (More on that in another story). The market was absolutely massive and towering over all of it were a number of amusement rides. Ferris wheels, spinning cups, swinging boats and all the other makings of a fun time. I had no intention of going on anything as the entire area looked as thought it were being held together with a paperclip that could give out at any moment, bringing the whole thing down around us. No sooner had I decided I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it, Sharad shows up with tickets for us all to go on one of the Ferris wheels. Not wanting to appear the wimp, I agree to join everyone and soon found myself waiting in line, wondering if those were the very last images I would ever see. The cars we sat in were these little tin can contraptions that held 2, maybe three and you sat across from each other. I shared mine with Pete. The floors were quite rusty and there were no restraints or doors. I have gone bungee jumping, rock climbing and am a huge thrill ride and roller coaster addict, but this time I was truly scared. When the ride comes to an end, the cars slow down enough to step out and there is a guy that basically shoves everyone out the other side and grabs the people standing in the line and stuffs them in via the front to facilitate the whole process.

After wandering through the market and picking out my juttis for the wedding, it was time for a mad dash to the Gwalior Fort. The city of Gwalior is dominated by a massive mass of that just seems to have been dropped there from the heavens. There are no other mountains to be seen, everything around is flat. I wont go into the details of the fort itself as you can read about it clicking the link above. We didn’t have too much time to spend there, but we did meet the most amazing little boy. He is eight years old (I forget his name) and speaks Hindi, English, Italian, Spanish, German and French. He gave us a quick tour of a couple of temples and sent us on our way as we had to get changed for the wedding and all the festivities of the night. On the way down from the fort there was a massive traffic jam due to a train that needed to come through town and a couple of mischievous boys that thought it would be great fun to mess with the train barriers.
We got back to the hotel and it was time to shower and change into our kurta pyjamas and wedding juttis. Stay tuned for details on the wedding… It was amazing…

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