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Author Topic: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)  (Read 21105 times)

Kagus

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India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« on: January 25, 2008, 12:06:00 am »

Hello all!  I'm on vacation in India for a couple months (Hyderabad, where all the tech support calls go) and thought it might be interesting to share the experience a bit.

First of all, the flight was pretty insane.  A total of about 26 hours spent in the air is bad enough as it is, but if you just so happen to have caught a cold a few days before taking off (both my parents got it from me, too) doesn't really make the flight more pleasant.

However, all things considered, it wasn't that bad.  The airline we were flying on was quite nice, and there weren't that many people on the plane, so we had some breathing space.

And then there's India...  This place is amazing, but just a little bit crazy.

It's a land of opposites.  Poverty and luxury are sometimes one in the same, high technology lives side-by-side with what can only be described as "non-technology", and there's a general sense of chaotic order in everything.

Namely, the traffic.  Oh Armok, the traffic...

I have no idea how much Indians spend on horns every year, but it must be some massive amount.  People use horns as a statement of frustration, a turning indicator, a going straight indicator, a way of getting attention, or even just a simple greeting.  Some people apparently just get addicted to hearing that horn blare, and never really kick the habit of honking.

The general driving can be easily summed up in two words; "Me first".

Lane indicators are sometimes considered as rough guidelines, but are mostly just ignored.  Traffic can sometimes stack up to five or six cars wide, and that's just on the two-lane.

Intersections provide a perfect place for all the motorized rickshaws, motorcycles, cars and simple bicycles to line up next to each other while waiting for their turn, which may or may not have anything to do with the traffic signals.  

The pedestrians act just about the same way, except they tend to travel across the road rather than down it, and they don't have horns (yet).

No crosswalks, no designated areas, just start walking and get out of the way of the buses, because they don't like stopping very much.  Most other people will.

Generally.

It's really quite amazing there aren't more accidents, but everything seems to flow together in some spectacular way.  As has been stated by a few of the locals, it's probably because nobody goes very fast (which is only because there's someone in front of them).

I have to admit, coming here I was thinking almost entirely about the food.  So far I've only had one meal here, but it has not in any way been found lacking.  

And getting a pile of great food that you can't quite bring yourself to finish (with three people) for just five bucks is a perk.

The apartment we're staying in is, well....  I suppose the DF term would be "modest".  Bare walls, bare floor, four plastic chairs, one plastic table, two beds (no blankets, but they do have pillows), a fridge, a water heater, a mile or two of closet space, and about ten more wall switches than there are lights (or anything else we can find).  It's not much, but it's home.  And, we've even got a rice cooker.

It's hard to imagine that this is only the second day, but it is.  We packed an incredible amount into the first day, thanks to our guide (the HR-and-everything-else director at the company my dad's helping to set up down here).  It's rather interesting to drive through the twisty streets with all the slightly mangy rickshaws and the dirt encrusted housing compounds, and then parking in a large underground parking structure (which had no markings to tell which part of the garage you're in), and then making your way up into the massive supermall above.

India takes some getting used to, and you need a sense of humor to survive the traffic, but it's a very interesting place, with some very interesting people, and some very interesting customs.

It's still a bit fun to watch the locals talking, because they all waggle their heads from side to side while talking.  It's a bit like the Canadian "eh?", too.  The more "local" you go, the more severe the waggling.  One guy looked like his head might come off.


And, the HR director is taking us out for curry today.  That's always a plus.

Updates when I get them,
--Kagus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2008, 06:31:00 am »

Wow, that sounds amazing!
I've always wanted to go to India.
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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2008, 07:08:00 am »

Just don't get accosted by rhesus macaques!
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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2008, 08:50:00 am »

And by Armok watch out for the elephants.
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Guy

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2008, 09:17:00 am »

I also went to India when I was three years old. My dad was actually born in India, so we have some India memorabilia in our house. I definitely remember the monkeys.

Also, I remember watching on the news about a monkey infestation in many Indian cities, where they've basically become pigeons.

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2008, 09:35:00 am »

Wow, India is pretty much like my country, minus head waggling.
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axus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2008, 06:58:00 pm »

Ooh, are there any cool temples in Hyderabad?  You could give Toady some ideas ;p
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Kagus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2008, 08:09:00 pm »

Well, I haven't seen any monkeys or temples yet, and I suspect all the elephants must have run away in fear of all the small and puny humans.  But, we've only been here a couple days.

I'm writing this at the standard waking hour of too-early o'clock, which is currently displayed as 06:20 on the more standard numbers clock.  The first shift of people over at the office arrived twenty minutes ago...

I have seen a gecko here, of all things.  It was hiding out above one of the light fixtures when we were first being shown around the apartment (or "flat", as the British-influenced Indians say), but it's vanished somewhere since then.

It's not exactly quiet here.  There are dogs barking, people chattering, Air India flying overhead, and the omnipresent honking of horns (of course).

However, none of that makes any difference when you get back at night and feel completely wiped out from the day spent exploring Hyderabad.  Not even the whine of mosquitoes that simply must fly directly into your ear.

Speaking of the mosquitoes, they're actually not that bad here.  I'm sure there are higher concentrations of them in other parts of India, but we only get a few of them at night here, and according to Pradeep (he's the HR director) they're not the malaria mosquitoes.

He says that nobody in Hyderabad ever gets malaria.  But then again, he says nobody in Hyderabad ever gets anything.  According to him (and he won't hesitate to tell you such with great pride), the locals around here just have very powerful immune systems, and so never get fevers, malaria, polio, hepatitis, or anything, really. He claims this has to do with the food.

However, I think he may have picked up on our colds.

Oh, I almost forgot (how could I do that...) the curries!  Yes, curries.  The dish we got (one for each of us) had about seven different curries on it, plus some chutneys and a similar cup of curd.  First we got a bowl of what I think was "roti" (it was some kind of bread-like substance) with which to dip into the curries, and then some guy came over and piled a massive amount of rice onto our dishes, right in the middle of the circle of curries.

Man, I was so stuffed after eating that...  I hadn't even finished off one of the curry dishes, and I wanted to still have space left in my stomach so I could eat some more, but no such luck.

I even had a hard time getting down the ultra-soft and ultra-smooth ice cream they served afterwards.  

It's saturday today, so we're going to be taking some time off exploring so we can recuperate and hopefully kick whatever virus has laid claim to our lungs.  That way, we can go again at full force when monday comes around!

Rarely does a person say, "I love mondays".


Updates when I get them,
--Kagus

EDIT:  Spells his name "Pradeep"

[ January 26, 2008: Message edited by: Kagus ]

Shzar

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2008, 10:11:00 pm »

quote:
Originally posted by Kagus:
<STRONG>
Oh, I almost forgot (how could I do that...) the curries!  Yes, curries.  The dish we got (one for each of us) had about seven different curries on it, plus some chutneys and a similar cup of curd.
--Kagus</STRONG>

Oh. OH. I envy you this. I like Indian food more than my dwarves like +cat tallow roast+. It's neat reading about the place; keep making updates! And head waggling is awesome. I'm going to use that to replace the Western nod.

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Kagus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2008, 11:39:00 pm »

I still haven't really figured out what the head waggling means...  It's not really an affirmative, not really a negative, and not really a "maybe".  It appears to simply be an indicator as to whether or not you are involved in a conversation, but more research is necessary.

And, to add to the novelty car horns, kids playing in the park next door, street hawkers (at three in the morning...), random readings of the qur'an (at least I think that's what that dude keeps yelling about, and Hyderabad does have a Muslim population), warbling birds, and other sounds around the flat, a store nearby recently set up a big speaker which hasn't been turned off since.

They've been testing it for some time now, by mumbling something into it at varying distances from the microphone (it all comes out completely garbled.  Even if I understood telugu I wouldn't have a clue what he was saying), and announcing various store-related things (I think).

And then they started playing music.  But they couldn't figure out what music to play, so we got to hear some ten-second or so clips as they were working through the collection before it got cut off and the next one got put on.

This collection included Indian polka.  I kid you not.

And then, sometime later, they decided to test the microphone again...  While the music was still playing.

Now you've got Indian traditional/pop music overlaid with mumbled sale announcements and "check....check....check"ing of the microphone.  Plus car horns that play christmas jingles.  

It actually creates quite an interesting medley.  Again, it's that chaos/order thing, as the whole mess has an underlying rhythm and can be rather pleasant to listen to.


We went to another shopping complex yesterday (named, creatively, "Big Bazaar"), and the whole time we were there the PA system had "hello and welcome, valued customers!  We have fabulous, fantastic and exccciting offers for you!  Seventy percent seven-zero seventy percent discounts!  On plastics floor - Thank you." bellowing out into the store.  They were live announcements too, as you could hear the guy getting a little tired of saying the same things over and over after a while.

One of the most prevalent themes of India is its diversity.  The language diversity, the food diversity, the sound diversity, the culture diversity...  Everything is gloriously different from everything else, and that diversity seems to be inherent in the very air and earth here.

India is different.  It's even different from itself.


EDIT:  Oh yeah, another comment on the food.  Those curry dishes we had yesterday?  They were either 110 or 120 Indian Rupees (I forget).  That translates into either $2.75 or $3.00.  Not bad, eh?

[ January 25, 2008: Message edited by: Kagus ]

Armok

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2008, 09:27:00 am »

How is this thread relevant to DF?
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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2008, 09:35:00 am »

quote:
Originally posted by Armok:
<STRONG>How is this thread relevant to DF?</STRONG>

Hehe, true. This should be at the various nonsense forum...

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Kagus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2008, 10:54:00 am »

Sorry, I only look at the DF section, so it's become sort of the entire forums for me.  I figured "General Discussion" was as close as it got.  Doesn't really matter to me where it gets moved, so long as I can find it again...


Well, India has once again proven to be hectic and rather tasty.  This was our first day without a guide, so we were basically just wandering around until we found something of interest.

When lunchtime rolled around, we went to the first restaurant Pradeep took us to, and, since we didn't know anything on the menu, we ordered the same things we got when he was ordering.   Manchurian appetizers (little spicy wheat balls, very tasty) and Biryani (a famous rice dish of Hyderabad).

Sure, we were commiting that most horrible of acts where we ate the same thing twice in a week, but it tasted good and we could pronounce it, and that's good enough for us.

Then, time for a little shopping.  Not particularly exciting, except we mistakenly picked up some ancient ayurveda health-paste instead of honey.  Considering the stuff is based on ultra-tart gooseberries, the two are a teensy bit different taste-wise...  But, still healthy.

After an afternoon spent sitting and thinking (I'm still in the safe zone for blaming the 13 hour time difference), we started to get hungry for that other well-known meal.  Dinner.

Of course, we couldn't just go back to the same restaurant.  Dinner called for a new place to be tested!  So, time to go mindlessly wandering the streets at night and following our noses towards the good food scents.

Just after we set off though, we were waylaid by a group of kids who found us far too intruiging to pass up an opportunity to say "hi".  Repeatedly.

Thing is, the kids spoke better english than most of the adults around.  We were bombarded with questions regarding whether or not we were from around there, how long we would be staying, and what my gender was (none of the guys here have long hair, so I tend to stand out a bit with my 20+ inch blonde hair).

After some time wandering around and getting pleasantly lost (and the always entertaining act of crossing the road), we found a little hotel/restaurant that offered breakfast lunch and dinner.  We went in, sat down, and immediately had three waiters standing around waiting to do something for us.

We had to ask the one who was actually taking our order for a menu, and he brought it over and pointed out that they only stocked the one side of the menu.  All the entries on the other side were apparently relics from when they first had the menu made up, which (according to the ragged state of the menu) was probably a long time ago.

Not knowing any of the lovely little names on the list, we had to ask for what he would suggest.  What followed was a question-and-answer session, and bringing in some woman for her opinion.  We decided on having a tester plate brought in so we could get a taste of what they were offering.

What the plate lacked in variety, it more than made up for with flavor.

We each got a small plate (I can only assume they were small servings, as we weren't charged the full price for them) of parotas, which are flat, flaky potato breads, and a couple dishes of curry.  Dipping parotas into curry only works for as long as the parota lasts, which didn't turn out to be very long (damn stuff was good), so we ended up using our fingers to scoop out and eat a lot of the curry.

Some time after we'd finished the parotas, the waiter came back out and asked us what we'd like to order.  We said we really liked the tester plates, so he said he'd bring out some chapathis (another kind of flatbread.  Pocketed, but not as flaky).

This was basically round two.  A different waiter brought out the chapathis, and also brought out fresh bowls of curry to go along with it.  

By the time the chapathis were finished, almost all the curry was gone and we were quite happily stuffed.  The waiter came by and asked if we'd like something else, and seemed slightly surprised when we declined the offer (Indians eat a lot of food).

We talked for a while, used the back rooms to wash our hands, and left the little dining room to go walking around town again and do some more shopping (this time actually picking up real honey).  The whole meal for the three of us totaled out to roughly $1.25, which also happened to be close to the price of a carton of mango soymilk in the shop.

We've been using wikipedia to try and figure out some of the food names beforehand, so we'll be better equipped when we next enter a restaurant, but the current guessing-game approach hasn't exactly let us down yet...

Tomorrow will most likely bring new dishes to our attention, and maybe even some pictures (don't get your hopes up though, transferring pics from the camera to the laptop hasn't really been priority number one).


Again, updates when I get them.  Thanks for reading.
--Kagus

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2008, 12:27:00 pm »

Wow, I envy you and your ability to tolerate chaos. My mind would have already blown up after the first day in that city.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against India or it's population but I can barely tolerate noises, mobs of people, traffic or chaos in general. I hated it when I was visiting downtown Montreal with the street festivals and all, and it wasn't as chaotic as Hyderabad sounds to be and I was there just for a couple of days.

Man, I wish my brain was more tolerant and appreciative of chaos and diversity.

[ January 26, 2008: Message edited by: Zemat ]

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Re: India Fortress (Adventure Mode)
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2008, 05:27:00 pm »

Sounds exciting. Maybe I'm just weird, but I've never had a curry. You should have spoken with that gecko. He may have needed better car insurance.
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