Posted by: jeanne | October 24, 2018

out of delhi

out of delhi: that’s a pun. it’s our hosts gabi and sameer who went to kenya and visited karen blixen’s place.  we’re only going down the country a bit.  nevertheless, we are far from delhi and its madding crowds, and it’s a really interesting change.

but let me resume my narrative with monday’s ordeals, because they’re really indicative of what it’s like here.  we’d taken the day off on sunday, and stayed in paherganj, only getting jim a pair of shoes, and me a bunch of scarves at the cashmiri’s shop, where they tried to educate me about grades of wool and the pollution of acrylic. we took several naps apiece, and i even got to read a few pages of the book i brought.

by sunday, there were several new orders on gabi’s website, so i spent the evening finding the stuff, measuring it out, packing it up, addressing it, weighing it, and stamping it, in preparation for taking it all to the post office.  each of these steps has things that can go wrong, so of course i couldn’t find things, measured wrong, had to re-address several items because of legibility issues, had to count the postage twice, and all that.  when we got up on monday, i washed my new indigo dress that has turned my skin blue, but there was no water in the tank feeding the washing machine.  but i had already added soap when i discovered this, so had to fill 2-gallon buckets repeatedly and add them to the washing machine, wetting the outside of it in the process – so i got a mild shock whenever i touched it for the duration of the wash and two rinses.  oh well.  but the sheets and my new dress got washed and hung out to dry, and around noon we were ready to go to the p.o., so we packed everything into gabi’s post bag, and headed out.

first we hit the atms.  our real issue was cash, because we couldn’t be sure every place we wanted to stay on our trip would actually take credit cards, even tho they all advertised the fact.  i’d spent some time on the phone with my bank the night before, and had successfully changed my pin, but every atm i tried said i had entered an invalid pin, and threatened to cut my card off it i tried to enter it more than three times.  so we needed to solve the money issue most urgently.

i had reviewed the list of rickshaw prices, and found out that from paharganj to cp should be 50 rupees, and i’d been paying 150, and had been asked up to 400.  so this time, the guy asked what i would offer, and i snapped 100, and he took it, so we hopped in, finally satisfied that overpayment by only twice would suit everybody.  of course, he went to the wrong end of the inner circle and asked us to walk the 2 blocks to our destination, which i should have totally refused, since i hadn’t yet paid him.  but honestly, we don’t mind the walk, and don’t want to argue.  so we walked.

traffic was a little lighter on monday, because many places were closed; i guess it’s their sunday (tho the banks were closed on sunday and not monday, i give up).  but cp was just as crowded, and there was some sort of line at the post office, which had its doors half closed as if they were getting ready to shut the doors and go home.  but we got to auntie’s counter and handed everything over, and then left.

we’d decided to go see one thing only, and rather than trying to catch another rickshaw, we walked about a mile to a step well gabi had told us about.  we walked past people having their lunch breaks, queuing up for vendor food or ice cream, sitting in the shade.  many of them were dressed like office workers.  then we were into ‘suburban’ streets, actually the bungalow district, walking past high walls with barbed wire, gates, armed guards at the gates, etc.  then we turned down a side street and then down an alley (more like our alleys at home than the ones in paharganj), and started seeing ancient walls.  the difference between modern and ancient walls is the size of the stones.  ancient walls have huge blocks of stone not even a team of men could carry, whereas modern walls use cinderblock sized rocks.

i’d been wondering how we were going to catch a rickshaw home without going back to cp, but needn’t have.  you can identify tourist spots by the number of waiting rickshaws outside, and the water and ice cream stand always parked opposite the entrance.  we were expecting a ticket booth, but there was none, so we walked on in.  the place was quite crowded, mostly with young indians.  the well was the scene of several movies, one with bollywood star aamir khan (very attractive) playing an alien, so everybody was there to walk in his footsteps.  we sat down, instead.

step wells are old methods of catching rainwater, and were used extensively until the age of modern plumbing.  this one has been restored, but most of them are falling into ruin, and some are quite dangerous.  they are hollowed out quarrylike structures, with concentric levels going down to the actual well at the bottom.  since water levels fluctuate thru the year (can you say monsoon?) there are steps all the way down, with niches in the walls around the well so that people can hang out and perhaps even live there (who knows), close to water.

total gunge

we sat at the top and had our sandwiches and looked at all the people.  jim didn’t want to go down to the bottom, so he sat on the steps while i went down, leaving my shoes with him, as i’m so much more stable barefoot.  it was rather steep, the risers being uncomfortably tall, and i was a little concerned about my knees, which can threaten with overexertion.  when i got to the bottom, i could see a short corridor leading to something round and tanklike, so i ventured across the floor, finding it covered with batshit.  i looked up to see bats, so that’s how i knew.  but i continued on, and came to the actual well, which was open to the sky, and filled with nasty brackish green water and plastic bottles.  oh well.

once i got back to ground level, we walked out and were accosted by a coordinator of rickshaws, who said 150 and poured us into an auto rickshaw, who took us back home.  he let us off near the lassi wallah, so we sat and had a lassi, and wandered to he shoe guy to get jim some expensive ($25) shoes, and then crossed the street to the ayurvedic doctor and had him look at jim’s feet (nasty, troll-like), and give us pills, creams, and neem soap to use on him (350).  and then we went to our money changer, because the banks at cp also refused our pin.  we sat there for awhile, while the guy tried over and over to connect.  one card was declined, he told us, and the other card kept redialing without success.  so we said we’d come back later.  we were tired, of course.  we can’t take a lot of exertion lately, and need more naps than we used to.  so we both went to sleep, and so i missed the chance to pump water at 5pm, and had to leave the tank half full or less.

vishnu came for his packages to take to the courier around 6, and i left jim reading and went back out to get money.  first, tho, i went to he 24/7 and got sliced bread, sandwich meat (called chicken ham, even tho there was no ham in it), some cookies and some small juice packs, for the road.  then i went back to the money changer, whose system still wouldn’t connect.  and then he got the bright idea of taking his machine down to his nephew, who ran an internet cafe and incense stall.  the nephew plugged it in, ran the card, and it worked.  but then, the lights went out for a moment, people using their cellphones as flashlights all around us, and when they came on again we had to run it all over again.  (let me just check my bank and see if it didn’t go thru twice…actually nothing is showing up since the 18th, so i’ll just have to trust the system hahahahahahah(choke).

the market comes alive at night, especially on mondays

after the money thing was successful (a huge bundle of 500 rupee notes), i still had to go back to get jim’s passport, because his card was the one we used, but after that i made my way to vipin and the pharmacy, where i told him we were travelling, and what if we should get food poisoning on our trip?  i already had immodium, but he gave us packets of electrolytes and something to prevent vomiting, and charged me only 350 for them.  cipro is about $1 here, for reference.

so, tasks finished, i went back to gabi’s house, and we dragged all our empty bags downstairs, then carted all the stuff we’d bought downstairs, and packed up almost everything into them, leaving only the things we were going to bring on our trip (almost all the medicines, a change of clothes, our two books (but not the nightly reading story, which is ken follet’s newest about the first queen elizabeth).  our travel backpacks were too damned heavy, and i had to fill up my new indian bag with the rest of the stuff, and carry a plastic bag full of our food for the trip (pb&j, and butter, along with a kitchen knife).

vijay showed up to housesit after he got off work around 9, and skeeter jumped for joy.  he really loves vijay, who has stayed with him before.  he’s almost depressed around us, and really misses gabi, but he brightened up the moment vijay walked into the house.  he was very animated, and talked our ears off, even tho there were times i didn’t understand a word.  vijay was responsible for getting us to our driver for the trip, starting at 2am, so he contacted him to make sure everything was okay, only to report that there was a problem.  there’s a problem is something that occurs twelve times a day here in india.  there’s always something.  the lights go out, the machines don’t work, the shops are closed, there’s a petrol strike.  something.  this time it was the petrol strike.  it seems prices have risen precipitously, and so the gasoline vendors have gone on strike.  there wasn’t a drop to be found in all of delhi.  and our driver hadn’t seen fit to notify us.  so vijay called sameer, who is in uganda now, and sameer had to find someone who was on what’s app, because his phone service wasn’t good there, and it took an hour or two to find someone else to drive us, who even charged 1500 less than the first guy.  so it was on, and around 11:30, we went to sleep, only to be roused at 1:30 by vijay, who is sleeping in the next room, and was the first one to let the cat out –  but he let both cat and dog out at once, and they went in opposite directions, so his story is almost as good as ours.

we walked the short block to the front of the temple we’re behind, and the street was empty, except for a guy sitting in front of the shop opposite.  the car came to a stop in front of us, the guy got out, they spoke in hindi, and i was asked to give him the first installment of our payment, for tolls, gas, and taxes.  that was 10,000 rupees, or about $100.  sameer had told me to give him 500 rupees as a tip, and promise him more in the end if he treated us well, and i did what he told me.  vijay took a photo of the car’s license plate before he let us go (in case we disappeared???), and we were off.

a metro station

the streets of delhi were practically deserted at 2 in the morning.  we noticed all sorts of things we hadn’t seen before – buildings and statues mostly.  all the rickshaws were parked in rows along the streets, lights illuminated the streets, and buildings, and bridges, and gave the whole place a decidedly upscale urban air. of course we were travelling streets we’d never been down before, heading out of town as we were, but the whole thing had a different feel to it.  without millions of people milling around, and hundreds of horns going off all the time, it was quite peaceful and beautiful.  but we were also going thru construction areas, where they’re throwing up enormous office and apartment blocks.

we crossed the yamuna river and then we were in noida, the other side of delhi.  teeming with suburban housing, and places called sports city and such.  vast.  and only one bridge to delhi, so you can imagine the traffic jams – makes atlanta traffic seem like a jaunt.  gradually we got tired again, and pulled out the pillows supplied by the driver.  i fell asleep on jim’s lap, and he nodded off above me.  and that way we got maybe an hour or two more of sleep.  the driver, too, was sleepy, because somewhere around 4am, when i was awake again and jim was sleeping, he started slowing down and speeding up, and weaving on the road.  when we passed thru another toll booth, i suggested he pull over and get a little rest, but at that point we were a half hour out of agra, and he went on.

our driver, asho, is from agra, and has family there, so when we got to the city limits, he deviated and went to visit his brother/cousin (i wasn’t sure) who is a policeman.  he shut off he car and went to say hey, and we slept a little more, waking at least once to see a bunch of policemen peering into the car at us.  they love looking at jim.  we had made great time on the road, and there was still over and hour until the taj mahal opened up, so it was good for him to stop and get a breather.

we arrived at the taj mahal, asho showed us where he was going to park the car and get a nap, and then circled around to the gate and let us off, warning us to be very careful with touts and guides.  so we went right past the guides who assured us we couldn’t see the place without them.  and in truth, we didn’t want any guides to lead us here and there and urge us to keep up with their jogging pace.  we kept seeing western tourists being hustled along, being told the same things (the red stone is sandstone, the white is marble, the green is malachite, the black is something, the blue is lapis lazuli), being led to exactly he same spots to take pictures.  we would hate that.

it was still dark as we walked the almost kilometer path to the main entrance.  we saw women doing yoga along the dirt path beside the paved path.  it’s not the kind of yoga we do in the states; it’s almost calisthenics, and done very quickly.  we saw huge bats circling and flying to their resting places.  and the sky got lighter and lighter as we walked, until finally the birds woke up and began flying around and making noise.

we got to the entrance and had to split up.  males in one line, females in the other.  an american woman was put into the indian women’s line by her guide, and had to do the limbo to get back into the right line after being turned away by a guard.  i had to wait for a few minutes for jim to get thru his line, because there were more men than women.  and then we got into another line to buy tickets.  it’s very cheap for indians, but pretty outrageous for foreigners.  we paid 1100 each to get in.  but got shoe covers and bottled water in the price wee hah.

so we went in just as the clouds were turning pink.  only a few clouds – it’s india in the dry season and the weather is stultifyingly similar – hot and sunny (hot and hazy with pollution).  the pollution was so bad that it looked like fog all the way from delhi to agra, and smelled like smoke (they’re burning off the fields now).  it was so hazy that we couldn’t tell the outline of the taj mahal from the surrounding air, and could barely see the teeming city behind it.  there was a breeze once the sun came up, and that’s the first breath of wind we’ve felt in india.  and it was cool.  jim had worn his new nepalese long sleeved shirt against the anticipated a/c in both car and hotels, as well as his tibetan cap in case we kept the windows down in the car, so he was okay, but all i had was a muslin scarf, which only provided a little warmth.  i had left all of my abundant new woolen and silk scarves back at gabi’s, packed into the suitcases.  oh well.

the taj mahal is the taj mahal.  what can you say about it.  jim thought it was more like disneyworld than anything we’d seen so far.  pristine, glowing, carefully manicured grounds, hoards of tourists – mostly indian.  even at sunrise there were hoards of tourists, all taking selfies at the gate with the taj mahal in the background.  it’s very impressive as a building, and as a park and a monument, but it was unlike all the few bits of india we’ve seen, and so it was more like a theme park than anything else.

we went off in a different direction, following signs for the toilets, because after 4 hours in the car we had to pee.  but when we got there, a guard (they all seem to be army guys) told us there was no water in the toilets and directed us to the opposite end of the compound.  we thought it was typical india, laughed, and held our water.  this, however, gave us the opportunity to avoid the crowds by going along the treelined path to the side, and approaching the mausoleum from an oblique angle, which suited us better, because the damned thing is just so perfectly symmetrical that it made us both uneasy.  it’s certainly beautiful, tho, with all the shades of white marble, and all the inlaid colored stones (green, blue, black, red – one of the guides mentioned carnelian).

we watched several dogs swim all the way across the river, which would have been quite a swim for a human

we came upon the crowds at last, stopping to put on their shoe covers so they could go up the steps and enter the raised platform (the size of several football fields) on which the mausoleum was built.  so we stopped and put on our shoe covers (a shortcut to taking off your shoes), climbed up and went along with the crowds, but started with the mosques on either side of the taj mahal itself.  after a minute i just took my shoes off and wandered barefoot instead of clomping around in unwoven fabric looking like a doctor out to smoke a cigarette before going back into surgery.

camera yoga

it was the angles we were looking for.  the assymetric view, the look less captured.

we found plenty of those.  and finally, we lined up to go inside the tomb itself.  there was a large crowd, forced to squeeze down to one lane, and we clotted thru the door to find ourselves in a small room, compared to the vast size of the building itself.  it might have been 50′ square, surrounding an inner room set off behind a carved marble screen.  photography was strictly prohibited, and there were guards stationed around the circuit we all had to traverse.  we weren’t allowed to stop, either.  it was a lot like going to see the mona lisa in the louvre.  the guard came by, yelling in hindi i suppose, making everybody keep moving, while behind the railing, guides with flashlights pointed out the various stones set into the marble.

i forgot to look up, but jim said the ceiling went way up and was domelike, but we both suspected it didn’t go up nearly as high as the building was on the outside.  the place didn’t echo with the several hundred people that fit into the narrow corridor we followed, and the air felt close and very warm.  as we neared the entrance after circling the tomb (almost invisible inside the screen), we saw the yelling guard at the entrance reach out and yank person after person over the threshold, trying to rush them in.  and one guard was yelling at some guy who had the temerity to take out his cellphone and make a call.  i got several photos by simply holding my in my hand and shooting when nobody was looking, without taking my eyes off the scene.

then we were out, and escaping quickly.  we didn’t go up the middle walk until the end, and only so i could get the money shot.  there were several hundreds more people there now that the sun was well up.  the coolness was leaving rapidly, and we wanted to get out.  but there were still the gauntlets of vendors to cross, and a long walk to the gate and down to where our driver was.

just like in france.  the cup measure is in lieu of toilet paper

he must have taken a nap, but was hanging out with all the other drivers when we walked up, and we were soon in the car, making sandwiches from our stash as he finished saying goodbye.  and then we were out of agra and back on the road.

highly eroded landforms

i was knackered, so i lay my head down and went to sleep.  when i woke up, we were in some desolate place where erosion over the centuries has left a pitted and scared landscape of hills and gullies, with ancient forts on top, temples randomly dotting some hills, and cows.

plus tons of traffic, now that the day was fully underway.  we noticed many more bicycles than in delhi, and numerous long-distance haulers, going to mumbai, some 1300km away.  the trucks were all heavily laden, some dangerously so, and very decorated.  here, like in taiwan, the truck drivers protect their trucks with many gods and decorations and various scriptures.  sort of like our cars covered in bumper stickers.

we were stopped at a checkpoint and waved over, along with the other tourist cars (labeled tourist on the windshield).  then we sat for awhile while asho got out with his tax receipt (he’d stopped in agra for that) to show that he’d already paid.  it got hot very rapidly in the car, until finally he came back and cranked the a/c on until he finished his business.  then we went on.  the road was being repaired at that point, so we got back into motion only to stop and go for miles, jammed behind trucks.  only the center of the road was driveable, so both lines of traffic would swerve in and out of the middle, taking advantage of the smooth track to speed up, then slowing back down to a crawl to navigate around potholes.  we are so used to good roads in the states.  good roads, clean air, drinkable water.  these are things that you can’t expect in india, so i’m having to readjust much of my thinking about what we’re used to.  we live a very privileged life because of our standards and regulations, and to see those rules being rescinded out because of industry profits is sickening, and makes me lean more toward political activism than i have been previously.  some right wing members of my family may be too young to remember, but i was aware when the campaign for clean water and air was a thing, back in the early ’70s, and i remember when they coined the word ‘smog’.

rice fields, in what is otherwise arid scrub.  how do they do it?

eventually, about three hours, we reached the outskirts of gwalior.  at first i thought it was just another village like the ones we’d passed, surrounded by rice fields and sporting haystacks and cows everywhere.  there were people and shacks, trash everywhere, cows, kids, honking vehicles.  we were originally going to go straight to the fort to see sights, but we were exhausted, so we asked to go straight to our hotel.  i’d spent some time with the car’s wifi along the way, deciding on our hotel and paying for our room online.  i’d picked an expensive resort type hotel – called a non-hotel here, and pulled up the location on my phone, then tried to show the driver, who turned around to look at it, ignoring the traffic.  finally he gave me his phone’s map, and i put a pin where the hotel was, and after that he relied on his gps, which of course led him down a forlorn dirt track that rapidly narrowed, going opposite our destination.  so we got that straightened out, i by showing him the map, he by rolling down his window and asking the locals.

going back thru the usual squalor, we turned into a dirt road thru gates and behind walls.  enveloped in green immediately, we drove down the track past trees and fields, and eventually came to another wall enclosing our hotel.  uniformed men waited for us, but they weren’t army guys or police, just hotel employees.  we asked asho to come get us at 4 so we could go up to the fort, got out of our car, with our 2 backpacks, my red indian bag, and 2 plastic bags full of stuff, and they asked us in surprise if that was all we brought, expecting luggage perhaps.  we went into reception, where they gave us a glass of rosewater and took our passports and asked us to fill in a ledger with guest names, addresses, and next destination.  then they offered us lunch, which, being noon, we needed after a 3-4 hour drive.  a porter took all our bags (except for my backpack, which has this computer, our camera and lens, and a whole pile of cash), and walked us thru to our rooms.

the view of the fort from our hotel

it wasn’t rooms, tho, it was a villa.  they’re modern (we found out later), set around some very nice gardens, and everybody gets their own little house.  an english couple had checked in just before us, and were sitting on their balcony as we passed, but otherwise we saw nobody except some guy cutting grass, and some woman sweeping it up and stuffing it into a sack, putting it on her head and carrying it off.  someone brought us a lunch menu.  jim chose a cheese omelet, and i picked stuffed parathas, and we settled in, unpacking and ordering things, washing in the marble bathroom, testing the extra firm beds.

lunch came to our porch, we sat and ate (mine with lime pickle!!!), and we hopped into bed, setting the clock for 3:45.  it was just after 1, and we fell right asleep.  i woke up every hour to check the time, and at 3 i got up and started writing this post.  at 3:20 jim got up, and we met the driver at the gate for a ride up the hill to the fort.  it was a good thing we’d arranged it, because even tho on the map it was only a kilometer, by the road it was 3, and mostly uphill.  but there was a road going up to the gate, so we rode up there in comfort, passing large statues carved into the rock.

locals 10rs, foreigners 250rs. white privilege at work

it was about 2 hours to sunset; asho dropped us off at the gate and we walked in.  there was supposed to be some kind of ticket counter, but because we suspected it was tickets to a sound and light show, we didn’t bother.  the first thing we came to was man singh’s palace, decorated with lots of colored stone.

it was really impressive, but just as impressive was the view of gwalior from there.

it’s a huge city, spread out on both sides of the mountain where the hill fort complex was located.  directly below us were the 3 storey, fllat roofed houses of the working and middle class, and in the distance were huge tower blocks of apartments where professionals and others with plenty of money had moved when they could afford something better.

we walked and took photos until the sun was setting.

jim got waylaid several times by apparent teenagers, fascinated by his age.

they all asked how old he was, and marvelled, and took selfies with him.

i was approached by several groups of girls who wanted selfies, but just waved them away and told them to take selfies with jim.

we got back to the car and dawdled for long moments while the driver tried to get a good viewpoint on a nice temple, but in the end the light was going and we didn’t have photos of the statues, so we sped down the hill and i got out to scamper around, while jim and asho sat and discussed wives.

don’t know the instrument, looked like a stick, but sounded like it was amplified

soldiers in the parking lot. the one on the right is taking a selfie

finally, with 7 minutes to spare for tea and coffee time at the hotel, we got back, and had coffee in the garden, while the mosquitos gathered and swarmed.  they brought us a mosquito coil so we could continue to sit there, but as soon as our coffee was done, we fled back to our villa and waited for dinnertime.  jim read his book in the room, and i sat on the porch and wrote more.  after awhile i decided i wanted a beer, so i called reception, and they sent a ‘boy’ out to get it for me, as they didn’t have a bar.  first he came back to the room to collect 200 rupees from me, then he brought a huge bottle of kingfisher strong beer to me, with 10 rupees change.

but he didn’t bring a bottle opener, or a glass, so i had to use the back of a spoon to open the bottle, and then swig unladylike from it.  i could only get thru half the bottle, and finally replaced the cap and put it in the fridge for the cleaner.

dinner was a whole array of dishes of various kinds of salads and curries, and i had several spoonsful of everything, while jim had rice and the mildest of the dishses.  cottage cheese (paneer) in a spicy medly of raw vegetables, fish curry, chicken curry, not extremely spicy dal, rice, yogurt, and other things i forget.  all very tasty.  we couldn’t eat that much, tho, because we’re old and have shrunken stomachs.  that’s what the waiters were saying to each other as they saw our plates with half eaten food.  we even turned down dessert.  but we did walk thru he garden and explore a nice old pavilion opposite the restaurant (also old, but not picturesque).

then to bed, with all the windows open and the fans on.  the beds here are very firm (have i mentioned that), and up on platforms.  and after we had showers and washed, i doctored jim’s feet as per the ayurvedic guy’s instructions.  then we fell asleep to the sound of indian music, barking dogs, and honking, and were awoken this morning by several calls to prayer from the several mosques in the city.  there’s something wonderful about male singing first thing in the morning.  the birds contributed their morning songs, and then the construction guys started up banging heavy equipment, and after that the dogs started barking and the horns started honking.

so on wednesday, we got up at 6.  i sat on the porch and continued writing, jim got his book and sat opposite me.  then jim wanted coffee, so i told him to call reception and ask for some.  a guy brought instant coffee packets, and looked a little disappointed when we explained we wanted coffee with milk.  but he went away, and a little later another guy brought a tray with a pot of hot water, and a little jug of hot milk, and proceeded to tear open packs of instant coffee to make it for us.  so okay.

at 8 the other guests – two from israel, 6 from france – trooped by us to the restaurant, and we had arranged to meet our driver at 8:45, so we knew it was time to move, but we still sat there until i spied peacocks in the garden.  so i grabbed the camera and started back to the pavilion.  but then i noticed a sign saying family temples, and looked past the trees to see some stupa spires, and headed off that way.  i explored everything except the few corridors that had bats in them, and then ran back to get jim.  thrusting the camera into his hands, i suggested he get more photos of the pavilion, and then follow the signs for the family temples, which were quite old, and exquisitely carved.  i wanted to see if he took the same photos from the same angles i had, because we’ve noticed we both have the same camera eye.

then i packed everything up, better than i had late at night on monday, and went to breakfast.  they had a buffet with cereal (yuk), fruit (yay), porridge (ak), and a range of indian food.  i took a puri (fried bread) and got a bowl of bhaji (potato curry), and some watermelon, and a cup of lassi, and ate it while watching jim appear out of one temple and disappear into another.  finally, when i’d been sitting there for two rounds of breakfast, i remembered the steep staircase in the last temple he went into, and decided to go see if he’d fallen down the steps or something.  he was so busy taking photos that he didn’t hear me, so i went up the steps and surprised him looking for the steps (they were kind of hidden, and i’d had trouble finding the exit myself).

so breakfast for jim, which was a cheese omelet, and some watermelon, and i had more bhaji, made us some coffee (went to make us some coffee, only to have the instant package taken out of my hands so that i had to intervene in order to pour off some of the coffee crystals so it wouldn’t be too strong, like before.  we spoke to the waiter at some length, mainly about jim’s age, and all the other painters they ‘d had come thru in past years.

and then we went to the front desk to pay for our restaurant meals, and found all the other guests checking out before us.  when i got to the parking lot outside, our driver was taking photos of the israeli guests and their sikh driver.  and then we were off.  and i will continue this when we get to our next stop, after an anticipated 7 hour drive today.

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