Wednesday, November 30, 2011

India: Delhi Days

Hmm. Well, to start with, I should just put this out there: This was probably our least favorite trip ever. Not necessarily India's fault, unless you feel that nurturing, and then gifting to us, some sort of bug that pretty much made us want to just remove our stomachs for a week, give or take a day or two, is, indeed, due to the fact that we were in... India. So, yes, it is India's fault. Even now, being home for a few days, it's difficult to want to blog with joy about our adventure. And that's not really fair, because as the ickiness fades, the good parts start to stand out more. So really, I should wait (like I normally do, haha) a good couple of weeks or more before I blog. But this semi-detestment towards our trip makes me want to just get it done with. So, here you have...

INDIA: It could've been better... it could've been worse.
Our flight out of Amsterdam was delayed for several hours, so we didn't get into Delhi until about 2 in the morning. I think it was around 4:30 or so that we collapsed into our beds and conked out. We slept until 11-ish (WE had to wake the kids. It was strange.) and then headed to Delhi's Red Fort, where the Mughal emperors lived. It's a fort, and it's red. Honestly, it shouldn't take long to walk to the entrance. Maybe a 10-minute stroll along the moaty area.
Unless you are us. Or anyone else with small, cute, blond children. We were basically movie stars there. I think I'll do a whole post later with pics of people taking pics of the kids. It was amazing. We took the twins to Peru when they were 11-months old, and they got the star treatment there in Cuzco, and Turkey's been quite enamored by our little blondies, but India... Wow. This was unreal.
Here no one had discovered us yet, except for a pair of fellows who took turns passing Maeve back and forth for pictures. But Bran stole a moment to ponder on the beauty of the walls of the fort. Actually, I think he was looking for crocodiles in the moat. He really wanted to see a crocodile.
Before we went into the fort, we popped back out on the street to see if we could find a snack. We hadn't eaten breakfast, and the fort visit was taking a lot longer than we had anticipated, seeing as how we couldn't walk 15 feet without people stopping us for pictures. There was this little boy out begging, with this tiny baby. The babe couldn't have been more than a month old. The boy said the baby had no mama, but I think he was trying to get more sympathy, and in turn, more money, of course. Whatever the situation was, it was sad, even if there was a mama who needed to send her tiny one out to earn more. The little one was hungry... not crying yet, but he kept rooting around on the little boy and trying to suck on his chin. I kinda wanted to just nurse him, right there. Poor little kids. So many have such a tough life.
We found some big crispy bread, and then went in. Bran loved seeing the guards all over the place, because they had such nice boots. I mean guns.
The fort is now run by chipmunks. They were everywhere we went. The kids loved them, of course. They have kinda long tails, huh?
The pooped kiddos hanging out. Poor Bran was sick the first day or two, but it was something he brought with him (totally different than what we ended up getting). He was a little trooper, though. He did throw up in the hotel lobby, mostly in the trash can. Then he kept having poop false alarms, so we got to spend lots of time in stinky bathrooms, trying not to touch things.
Here's the front entrance of the Red Fort. It was a pretty cool place. And the weather! Ah, now here's some enthusiasm! It was great to dig out our sandals and summery clothes again! Yes... lovely, lovely weather... sigh...
After the Red Fort, we just went to the Delhi Zoo. We ate in the cafeteria-type place there, and it was soooo cheap. And soooooo delicious! (It's difficult to say that, because right now the thought of Indian food makes my stomach turn, but I clearly remember loving the food there before I got sick. And this stuff at the zoo was amazing.) It was spicy and perfectly seasoned, and did I mention sooo cheap? About 50-cents for a big plate of food. And we got a couple of mango lassis (shakes) that did NOT make us sick even though I stood there and watched the guy make them with ice (you're only supposed to drink bottled water/drinks, and avoid ice because it's made with non-bottled water) but didn't give it a second thought until that night when Z asked me about it... anyway. DEEElicious food.
Walking into the zoo. Running, I guess. It was a nice zoo, if you weren't an animal in it. There were some neat ruins right next to it, and you can see a bit of them poking up above the trees there in the middle.
N and B loved the trash cans. They were shaped like animals. Hippos, monkeys, rabbits...
Maeve fell asleep and I got to wear her for the one and only time the entire trip. Unless she's extremely tired (and she was...she was already asleep when we popped her in the mei tai.), she's much too busy to be confined like this. Of course. She IS almost two... But this was great, not just because I got to snuggle her like so, but because I could cover up that glowing hair with her hat and we attracted a bit less attention! Yay!
Bran is a very serious little photographer. We gave our old point-and-shoot to the kids (mainly Bran) and he loves taking it places and getting his shots. Maeve does too. Anyway, here he's got his eye on a monkey. I felt extra badly for the monkeys, because all over the zoo FREE monkeys were running around. Rub it in, fellas... rub it in.
Like this guy. Bran is also taking his picture. There were a whole bunch right here, and all of them except for this guy started to take off when we got kinda near. This one came closer, which Bran thought was awesome. Then he started hissing and jumping around all threateningly and Bran thought it was less awesome.
We got ice cream. Yum! It cost less than a dollar for four cones. Sanitation... price... it's a trade-off.
Sunday we went to church (just Sacrament Meeting) and then drove the 4 hours to Agra. Oh, we hired a car and driver, by the way. It worked out well, except for the whole not-being-able-to-talk-freely-while-traveling thing. But it was actually cheaper than renting a car, we didn't have the stress (which would have been high) of driving in India, we didn't have to figure out where to go, we didn't have to pay for gas... it was great. Trains would have been another option, but not really with 3 little kids, price-wise, schedule-wise, rigidity-wise... We looked into all the options quite thoroughly, and this driver thing was definitely the way to go for us. Anyway, Mr. Casey was really nice. He picked us up around 8:40, so we could get to church by the 9am starting time. However, we couldn't find it. This pic is of Z and Casey looking for it. Finally, we were about to just head out when Casey said, "we will check over here." And whaddaya know? He found it! AND, it didn't really start until 9:30, which was perfect because it was just before that time.
The branch was really nice. Bigger than ours here in Sofia, and it was in English, so that was great. Everyone was very friendly. The people in India were really friendly, in general. But we really enjoyed going to church there. Unfortunately, I got wrangled into playing the piano for the opening and sacrament hymns, so I didn't get to entirely relax. Not ones I knew really well, either, and it was on a keyboard that I wasn't familiar with so I couldn't find the sustain/pedal function quickly enough so I didn't even have that going in my favor... But it's always kinda fun to make a contribution, however small it may be. The missionary who normally plays the piano came in late, so he got to take over, and he was an amazing player. Good for them, kinda stinky for me... ;)
Then we went to Agra and saw some stuff. Then we went to Jaipur and saw some stuff. But I'll hit on those later. Then we went back to Delhi to fly out. Our plane left at 2am Saturday morning, and we got back in the early afternoon on Friday, so we went to Qutab Minar, a minaret built in 1199 and surrounded by other ruins. It was awesome! I'm so glad we went there! We almost just went straight to the hotel because we weren't feeling well and everyone was tired, but this place was really lovely and interesting.
See? Tired.
Super, super, super, super tall minaret. It's actually the tallest free-standing stone tower in the world, at 237.8 feet. Yep, pret-ty tall.
Cool pillars.
Bran posing with a gun. Just because.
Lots of fun ruins to clamber all around. It was a rambly sort of place, with lots of nooks and crannies and chambers and stuff to explore. Right up our alley.
Here's Casey, leaving us at our very last hotel. The kids really liked him. Maeve especially. He was her special helper buddy, who'd always come and get her out of the the car.
Nuala did not like the milk at that last hotel. She saw me looking at this pic, and said, in a very pained voice: "I did NOT like that milk..." So it's been verified. You can see her henna tattoo in this pic. This is when I got sick. Right when we got into our room, I headed for the bathroom. Then I slept until 10:30, got up and puked violently, and then we left at 11. Nice start to the trip home! Luckily I didn't throw up again until Sunday night. I had other issues. It's great that I'm putting this on the blog, huh?
Oh, and here are both her henna tattoos. All us girls got it done in Jaipur.
Yikes! Bran looking "really, really scared" in the Delhi airport. And then we went home. And the 7hr50min flight to Amsterdam was SO AWESOME since it was the middle of the night and Maeve wanted to be asleep on my lap and Zac and I both had to keep hopping up to use the lovely facilities with very little notice. Oh yeah... the Delhi Belly was keeping us on our toes!
Up next... Agra...


Tara Milligan said...

Oh, no, I shouldn't laugh, but you are so very good at describing it! I'm sorry that it didn't turn out as planned, that is lame, but the stuff you weren't too sick for looks really cool! It's really nice of you guys to let people take so many pictures with the kiddos. Maeve's hair is so long and gorgeous! Your hair looks so cute too, and of course I love all the pics of B & N (&Z) too.

pauline said...

That was very interesting indeed ... I am glad you didn't get more ill... at least you recovered already. I guess you learn to try ignoring illness when you know you are s'posed to be having fun somewhee you've never been b4. The pics are great and the descriptions are material for LOL stuff ... sorry, sort of... I see Maeve holds on to Z's ears, so funny! The tatoos are really nice ... I guess they washed off... the poor cute little boy with his baby sibling rooting for milk very sad, whatever the story. Look at all those adult men wanting to see/hold those little rascals! Thanks for sharing, and we look forward to the rest of the story... Love, Mom (Dad too) xox

Megan and Greg said...

Ah man, I've seriously been wanting to live in India and now I'm thinking that is NOT a good idea. Bummer. I can't believe you ended up playing the piano in sacrament! How did they even know you played? Did they just ask the congregation? So random! I'm sure you did awseome, imagine who will play when the elder leaves? I'm sure everyone thought you were amazing. I always think of India like the movies. Bright colors everywhere and music and dancing! But the pictures made the whole place look kinda dingy. I did have a feeling that might be what it's REALLY like. But I just like to pretend it's all beautiful and bright.

fiona said...

Megan, that was so us, too! For the longest time I've had India in my mind, all romantically, as a great place to live, even though logically I knew there was a lot of poverty, etc. too. But colors and music and dancing! And our week there really was not that. But I think it would be a bit different to actually live there, you know? You'd eventually adjust stomach-wise, you wouldn't always be going to touristy spots where everyone's trying to sell you chintzy souvenirs, you'd make Indian friends who would invite you to their weddings and celebrations, where there would be authentic music and dancing... and colors! ;) I've known and known of people who've lived there and loved it, but yeah, the 8 days we went just wasn't long enough to get into the good stuff, I guess. So don't give up the dream ;)

And piano. As the branch pres was standing up welcoming everyone, a lady who'd said hi to us when we got there came sneaking over and asked if I could play. Prob just figured the chance was higher, since I was American! I was def. not awesome. I didn't even get to look at the music b4 I started playing, and it was mostly right-handed b/c I had never played the opening one before. The sacrament hymn was better! Overall it was fine, but then the missionary came and rocked it. Phew.

Bonnie said...

I'm crossing India off my list of places to visit. Anywhere with a high likelihood of contracting a severe gastrointestinal illness that can only be handled in filthy bathrooms is eliminated. Ugh.

Cute pics, though.

Cindy said...

You guys are quite the adventurers! That's a trip you'll never forget :-) Since you are the queen of baby must tell me what ones you have and like because I want to get one for our little girl. And ps- thank you for the sweet comments about my Grandma's passing ;-) xoxo

Grandma said...

I always love your descriptions of the places you go. Wow the spots u took pics of looked so clean. I thought their would be lots of garbage or litter every where. It is always a wonderment at old everything is in the eastern hemisphere. Our country is sooooooo young!