Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Delhi – Back to Delhi and Back to the USA

Our friend Helene welcomes us back to
Amarya Haveli (hotel) in Delhi 
Our flight leaving Jodhpur for Delhi was delayed for over an hour.  Of course, we had no idea what was going on since the announcements were unintelligible and there was no English signage of any kind in the airport.  The flight was a dream when it finally arrived; a flashy new turbo prop high wing ATR-72/500 took us from Jodhpur to Delhi in little more than an hour.  We were so happy to return to Amarya Haveli Hotel in Delhi where we got a warm welcome from the familiar staff who remembered us from our previous visit. 
The next day we revisited the Hauz Khas Village for some final shopping.  And, we visited one last site:  “The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets!”  Seems fitting somehow.  You may wonder how Anne comes up with these sights, but the museum is listed in Lonely Planet.  It was actually quite fascinating, and let’s face it, human waste is a major problem here in India (and around the globe). 
Septic system layout for an Indian squatty potty
We got a tour of several outdoor toilet and septic configurations, all geared to using local materials for construction.  We learned about their efforts to filter polluted water for reuse -- for flushing toilets, irrigation, and other non-drinking purposes.  And how they extract methane gas directly from the outhouse to produce electricity or to cook food on the stove.  We noted that this system is not quite perfected yet, as there is the distinctive smell of methane, which smells strangely like burning poop…  Inside, a small museum room held all kinds of interesting info about the history of toilets along with some hysterical pictures and posters.
Now we are back home – yes, back in the good ‘ol U.S. of A., but the sights and sounds of India continue to dance in our heads.  We started this blog by saying that many people think India stands for “I’ll never do it again.”  We don’t fall into that camp although it will take a while to work up to a return trip (LOL!). 

Instead, we would say that India stands for:
I  = intense
N = needy
D = draining
Holy cow eating trash!
I  = intoxicating
A = astonishing 
India is definitely not a destination for everyone.   It was a challenge even for us who consider ourselves to be seasoned travelers having visited other 3rd world countries.  We thought we’d already encountered a bit of everything, but India proved us wrong.  We would recommend India only to the staunchest and most adaptable of travelers.  First time travelers need not apply. 

And yet, we are so glad that we came.  India is without equal, and without a doubt one of the most unusual, confounding, but alluring places on earth.  Our trip here required us to employ all of our acquired travel skills -- and brought us as close to traveling thru time as anything we have ever done.  

One thing is definitely true: every one of the human senses will be tested to the max by exposure to India.  The colors, the smells, the extreme poverty, the heat, the plethora and variety of animals, the religious anomalies, the traffic, the smiling friendly people, the lack of amenities, and the frenetic passion of the country will stay with us for a long, long time.  Or to steal a phrase from Winston Churchill, India is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

Faces of India:

Frank bids farewell to our "ace driver," Rampal

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