Saturday, July 30, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Breakfast with the Dhali Lama
Well, not really, but I would think listening to one of his speeches at 9 AM could be considered breakfast. I would like someone else's opinion on a Dhali Lama speech heard live. Is he as charismatic as I think he is? His voice is incredible and I have no doubt that he is wiser than all of the people that were in the temple, combined. Just seeing him in person (from about 6 feet away, or 2 metres for you metric types) gave me the chills. Any of you that are in northern India, I would definitely put "Going to Dharamsala/Mcleod-Ganj to see the Dhali Lama" at the top of my list. You can find out when the Dhali Lama is in town by going to www.tibet.com and then "Teaching Dates."
On another note, I will try to post some pictures in the near future.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Who knew it would be such a big deal?
I am talking, of course, about the ceremony at the Pakistani-Indian border between Lahore and Amritsar. But I won't get ahead of myself...let's go back to the beginning.
The local bus ride from Chandigarh to Amritsar was largely a blur. I do remember getting out to push the bus, so the driver could start it while rolling in neutral. Unlike the last bus experience, this one was relatively uneventful, so I won't bore you with the details.
Amritsar, for those that don't know, is the Vatican or Mecca of the Sikh religion. There is this incredible structure called the Golden Temple in the middle of a lake inside a larger structure. The temple itself is actually made out of gold, as well as some other parts of the Sikh legislature building. Needless to say, this is one popular place...24/7. We happened to get there at 4 AM and there were still hundreds of people. The city is also the site of many historical battles between Sikhs and Muslims, as well as the infamous massacre of hundreds of people by the British in 1919.
In terms of city structure, Amritsar is similar to most other northern Indian cities. Roads were too narrow for cars, people were everywhere, and so on. Oh ya, and the power lines were of a precarious nature. All of this certainly has its charm, though.
The other big event in the area is the ceremony at the border with Pakistan. Thousands come from Amritsar and a somewhat lesser amount from Lahore in Pakistan. I must say that this is an incredible event for two countries that don't seem to like each other too much. I would guess that this act of friendship occurs because the Punjab extends into Pakistan and so the people are basically of the same group, but just happen to be in different countries.
I didn't lie when I said thousands come to see this. The countries have set up grandstands to seat all of these people. There is a gate in between the two sides and the ceremony culminates in the lowering of the flags that rise above the gate. What got me was the chanting and rallying that was done. There was an obvious sense of national pride, and yet no animosity between the two sides. That alone made the experience a memorable one. What will stick in my memory, though, is the one constant in India...the heat.
I'm note sure how these people would handle this ceremony during June when the temperature is 50 (122) degrees celsius (fahrenheit), alebit a dry 50 degrees (that makes it all better, doesn't it?). There may only be one thing worse than dry heat...humid heat. We were there at 6 PM and I would place the temperature between 35 and 40 with 100% humidity. I was practically swimming in the air. I know you all want to hear this, but my sweat glands were just relentless. I was trying to video the precedings, but was having trouble because the sweat just kept pouring into my eyes. Now when I watch the video, everytime the camera shakes I know that my eyes were burning. Good times. This may sound weird, but I was definitely longing for the frigid temperatures of Mongolia.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Why airlines should allow canoes....
Raise your hand if you've ever been in a city without proper drainage during monsoon season.
If you haven't, you're in for an interesting experience. It's about 1 PM here in India and here is what has happened so far today (on my way to work)....
I'll start out by saying that it absolutely poured all night and is still raining pretty hard. For those of you that know what Indian rooftops are like, I'll say that ours had 6 inches of water...the drain was obviously not working. Water was dripping from everywhere and making the marble slippery. And we're not even outside yet.
So I figured that I was tough and could ride my bicycle to work. That is one decision I will regret for awhile. First thing I see are new rivers forming on the sides of the roads. There are even some new lakes in the fields and at corners. I get out on my bike and immediately start getting soaked...no problem, right? I get to this point where the puddles is covering the whole road and what do I hear? a motorbike engine revving up. I was like "don't even think about it," even though I feared the worst (as you can probably guess, my quote was the family version of what i really said). Wooosh! The guy drenches me with his bike. I seriously wanted to drop my bike and run after him cursing and yelling like a lunatic. I did plenty of cursing...just not the running after the guy part. I kept going along the road, only to find another river. Everyone was turning around at this one point, so I turned around and went home too.
Get back, change clothes, talk to my roomies, and get pictures taken of my sorry a$$. Then I decided that the weather wasn't gonna beat me on this day, so I went back out...this time on foot.
There are 4 ways to get to my work. I walk up to the first one, only to find about 1 foot of water between me and the other side of the street. People were taking there shoes off and walking through it...I could only imagine the glass I would step on and the insuing disease I might get (it happens, ask my brother). I knew the second way was already a raging river, so unless I had a power boat.... The third way is quite a detour. I walked through the "Indian" part of town (there were sidewalks, believe it or not) only to reach the newly formed river again. My last chance was to do a big loop around the water. One floodway I crossed had water in it that looked like chocolate milk...yummy.
So I'm finally on the right side of the street going the right way. Water is just everywhere, causing all sorts of pandemonium. What do I see in the parking lot of my work? About 3 feet (1 metre) of water. Cars were floating, people on bikes were stuck, and the cows were runnin' for dry land. One cycle-rickshaw driver managed to brave the water and peddle two ladies right up to the steps...I hope he got a good tip. Naturally, I walk upstairs to the office and find it to be locked. I go back outside, only to see my boss on the other side of the lake trying to figure out how to get on my side. After about 20 minutes he managed to make it.
All would have been fine if Air China would've let me bring my canoe from Canada....