India – Day 4 (Pune)

January 18th, 2006

Sometime during the night, Dennis returned to the Mumbai airport to meet Swati (who had been in the city shopping for her lengha) and pick up his mother Gloria, and sister Robin. Thankfully, the rest of us slept.

In the morning, I had my first case of, uh, “the loosies” as Swati would say. I’ll spare you the details, and just say that it could have been a lot worse. Beyond the one major issue, I didn’t have any other symptoms.

Turf Club, PuneAfter a leisurely morning spent reading the newspaper out on the veranda, all six of us went down for a leisurly lunch. We went out for a brief shopping trip on MG Road (MG for Mahatma/Mohandas(?) Gandhi, kind of like MLK Drives in the US, except much more upscale!) Arjan bashed his head into the side of the rickshaw, and the ladies weren’t that interested in the shopping there, so we returned. Of course Tony managed to buy bunch of knicknacks and hand out money to a beggar woman who followed him the entire time we were there.

Swati came by the Turf Club with the driver and we headed out again, first to Jai Hind to pick up the clothes we had ordered a couple of days before. Of course, my suit wasn’t ready, so I’d have to try again later. But at least we wasted a lot of time trying to find out where it was.

0118_172902_T152Then it was into rickshaws and into “The City”, as they call it, which is basically the old part of the city, with a really narrow maze of streets that can only clear a rickshaw if everyone else gets out of the way. It reminded me of the Plaka area in Athens, if the Plaka was not pedestrian-only and was filled with all manner of vehicles, and if all the places were actually working businesses and not just tourist shops. After asking several people, we finally found the turban shop we were looking for. Turns out Dennis’s white-boy head is too fat, so he couldn’t take one off the rack; it would be custom made.

While they got that squared away, Arjan, Tony, and I visited the large temple right across the narrow street. The guys inside were very friendly and showed us around, but before telling us too much, they asked me and Arjan (two tall guys with very short hair, and one with a red-and-yellow scalp wound above his forehead) if we were Hare Krishnas. Somehow I got the feeling that they wouldn’t have been as friendly if we had said yes!

Next, Swati suggested that “Shopper Stop” might be a place that Gloria and Robin would enjoy the shopping more at. They were delighted to find a department store and mall that was just as Western and probably even more upscale than most malls in the U.S. So far we had seen nothing even close to it. The whole time in India I had been wondering where all the Swatis were (you know, the good-looking, Western-clothes-wearing, look-at-me girls) Clearly, they were all visiting this mall. Tony and Arjan picked up a bunch of CDs at a music store there. CDs are relatively cheap, with “imports” from America maxing out at about $10, and a lot of things available for $6 or $7. And they still had a bunch of cassettes for sale too!

Keep in mind that I’m not the biggest fan of shopping in the first place, and then add in my intestinal issues, and you’ll understand that I was completely worn out by the time we returned to the hotel. Swati’s cousin Pankaj came over to take us out for the night, but I just didn’t have the energy so I got some sleep instead. Sounds like they club they ended up at was kinda lame, so at least I didn’t feel like I missed too much.

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