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India (2005)

Jodhpur – Can I ….?

November 18, 2005 Gopal Guesthouse 150 Rs/double bed room Today, together with Lam Li – the Malaysian traveller, we tried to smuggle into the Jodhpur Fort. The ticket for foreigner is 250 Rs, which is quite expensive for us. So, instead of directly entered the main gate, we tried the small path, climbing up and down the rough terrain behind the fort, and suddenly found that it was actually quite fantastic already outside the fort. On the back of the fort, we met two young boys. One is 17 and the other is 16. They are skipping the class today, as one of them didnt do the biology homework, and the other did accompany him as sign of solidarity. They are both Brahmin, who are supposed not to eat meat and smoke. But the guys, on the top of a small hill, smoked together without anyone knowing. The boy told me that the parents were very strict, and surely would beat him if finding him smoking and eating chicken in a food stall. As anywhere in India, the guys suddenly drive the conversation to “sexual matter” right after 3 minutes. “Are you married?” “Do you have boyfriend? Do you have [...]

November 18, 2005 // 0 Comments

Jodhpur – Water Hut

November 17, 2005, The friendly old man from the wedding yesterday who gave me an Indian name, invited us to the water hut where he works. He is an old man of 56 years old, owning a water hut between the forts to give free waters to thirsty folks. And the water is free. The hut was operated since 3 generations, and his father was a very famous holy man in the area. As the omelette shops and rickshaw drivers, the water hut also have guestbooks. But this one is really different. Compared to the one liner comments in the omelette shop guestbooks with boring praise to how delicious on earth the omelette was, the collections of the water hut is much, much more interesting. This is a free service, nobody paid for the water given. And the collection of comments were from the letters from various countries on earth, from 1960’s up till recent days. It was really amazing to read how this holy man, working with full of his dedication, just to give water to the people from the simple hut in the junction of the street. “My Indian father, you are really the spirit of my life” [...]

November 17, 2005 // 0 Comments

Jodhpur – Omellete War Part 2

November 17, 2005 Gopal Guesthouse 150 Rs/ double bed “The boss should be taught that Taiwan is part of China” write a message in Chinese characters in one among the guestbooks of the Omelette shop recommended by Lonely Planet. It seems that this fellow mainland Chinese traveller was not happy being asked by the owner, “From China? From Taiwan?” Then this message was responded by a Taiwanese, with big English letters “Taiwan is always a free individual!!!” The respond aroused anger in other mainlander “What a bull-shit!!!” in big Chinese characters, followed by reasons of why Taiwan was part of China. And there were another responds by nationalist Taiwanese complaining “these ugly mainlanders”. What a phenomenon. A guestbook of an omellete shop in the middle of nowhere in Rajasthan became a political written war between the mainlanders and Taiwanese. BTW, the owner of the shop, being proud of featured by the book, keep showing us the guestbooks, pictures, postcards, and also photos he got from the guests. But we just wanted omellete. As I was also asked to write in the book, I wrote, “The omelette was nice, but would be nicer if I wasnt forced to write. I just [...]

November 17, 2005 // 1 Comment

Jodhpur – An Indian Wedding

November 16, 2005 Gopal Guesthouse 150 Rs/ double bed room Yesterday, when we were invited to a family house, we were shown their family photo album. It was a big album full of photos of a grand marriage ceremony in Jodhpur. This family should be one of important families from the highest caste, ane the wedding was so grand that there were more than 4000 guests invited in the reception. We just adored how fantastical the marriage was, the rioting colours of the costumes of people attending the party. Today, when we walked around the small alleys of Jodhpur, we heard noise from a band group. And suddenly we found that there was another marriage is happening. The owner of the house, seeing us taking pictures of the band, suddenly asked us to take pictures of themselves also. Then, the old couple invited us to come in to their house. Everybody was dressing in beautiful costumes, and everybody was excited. This is the groom’s house, and there was a ceremony in another floor. Then the mother of the groom, tranced look like, let the groom out of the house. There was a horse, beautifully decorated, waiting outside. And also a [...]

November 16, 2005 // 1 Comment

Jodhpur – Omelette War

November 14, 2005 Gopal Hotel, 150 Rs luxurious double-bed room After being down for quite a while, the server of my blog is working again today, so I can update the story again. Spent the last 8 days in Pushkar, and just arrived yesterday in Jodhpur. Very lucky that we could find a very spaceful luxurious room with the price that suits our budget. Jodhpur, the blue city, seems quite affected by tourism competition among hotels and restaurants. Every single unit related directly to tourim business, has at least a dozen of guest books to prove how the guests, foreigners, tourists, etc feel about their service. In every guesthouse we visited, the owner will be busily showing the books to us. Not only hotels, but even omellete stalls have guest books!!! Under the gate of clock tower, there are two omelette stalls. One has big board written in big colourful letters: “Recommended by Lonely Planet”, and the other is not. The former, with half a dozen Western guests enjoying the omellete there, seemed had a better business after the recommendation of that very traveller bible. But for us, who prefer to avoid everything listed by LP, the second one was [...]

November 14, 2005 // 3 Comments

Jaipur – It’s A Small World

November 3, 2004 Hotel Abinandhan, 100 Rs It has been about a week I am travelling with a Malaysian female journalist, Lam Li. I met her a month ago in Kathmandu, and we had been together for quite a while. Since her arrival in New Delhi, she had been attacked by the annoying stomach problems, and we even were together when the bombs blast in Delhi. Today we were also together visiting the Amber fort, about 12 km away from the Jaipur Old City. And it was so interesting to listen to her travel plan. Yesterday we watched movie together about Uzbekistan and it came to her mind to go to Uz after her trip in Afghanistan, after watching some pictures I took there. Suddenly, when we were exhausted of visiting the fort (it was beautiful, but I dont know why now I am losing the mood of taking pictures….), we were chatting about future plans of travelling. And suddenly I remembered that going to Russia is not so easy. I told her that I know someone, a Malaysian girl, who tried to take Russian visa in Mongolia then got refused, returned back to Beijing and stayed in my apartment [...]

November 3, 2005 // 2 Comments

Jaipur – The Pink City

November 2, 2005 Hotel Abhinandan, 100 Rs The nice and friendly staff of the hotel made me decided not to move anywhere. Eventhough I got very bad location for my room, just next to the main road, which always makes my bed quaking when a bus or truck passing. And yesterday night was really a nightmare, with the crackers exploding for every single minute for the Diwali celebration, up till 2 a.m. Fortunately today the hotel staff offered me to move to another room, which was much better. My Malaysian travel companion and I went together to the pink city of Jaipur today. Since my first day in India, actually I lost the mood of travelling and taking pictures. I hope with her appearance again I would gather fresh ideas for my photography work. The pink city itself is not really pink, only the buildings around the mainroads are painted pink, and just for the surface. The “old town” itself looks new and modern, brightly coloured in pink colour, and has very busy traffic. The real “old atmospheric” part of the town was near the palace area. The royal palace ticket is 180 Rs, which is too expensive for our [...]

November 2, 2005 // 1 Comment

Jaipur – Happy Diwali

November 1, 2005 Hotel Abhinandan, 100 Rs Today is Diwali, the most important Hindu celebration in India (pretty sure that Balinese Hindus not celebrating Diwali). I am alone in Jaipur, and my Malaysian friend said that she was going to come today. After being ramped in Delhi with lots of bureaucracy problems, somehow I lost any mood of travelling, and I was waiting for her to give me some fresh mind. I spent the whole morning in the old city, seeing how the market started by preparing lots of sweets (and mind you, Indian sweets are really, really sweet, even for Javanese sweet standard). Some temples were crowded by the people. I tried to go to Internet cafe, and the electricity suddenly went down, maybe because of the festival, which kept me about 1 hour waiting in the cafe. I met my Malaysian friend in the afternoon, as she suddenly came to the same hotel where I live. She said that she was invited by a rickshaw walla to go to their house to celebrate Diwali. She is always suspisicious towards Indians, maybe mind-setted already by the stories from other travellers, and today she decided to open a little bit [...]

November 1, 2005 // 1 Comment

Jaipur – Welcome to Rajasthan

October 31, 2005 Hotel Abhinandan, Banasthali Marg, Jaipur, 100 Rs After staying in Delhi for about two weeks without doing much sightseeing and scrumbled by the bureaucracy, now I think it;s time to move. Tomorrow is the Diwali festival throughout India, and I wish to witness some celebration in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state. I arrived quite early to the Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT), New Delhi, before dragged by the touts to their agent to purchase the ticket of a private bus to Jaipur. They told me the bus was going to depart at 9, just few minutes to go. And the ticket was 260 Rs. They said that the government bus would cost me 220 Rs. OK, now is festival day, I imagined that the government bus would be really crowded and slow, so I took this private bus, and insisted them to depart ASAP. One lesson, never pay before the bus really moves. I had to wait from 9 until 12, before then I was throwed away to another agency to take this luxurious bus. The bus itself is comfortable, but it is also crowded. And it also stopped everywhere to pick up passengers. And I had [...]

October 31, 2005 // 0 Comments

New Delhi – Indian Way of Business

October 30, 2005 Hotel Bajrang 100 Rs The day is getting normal on the second day after the bomb last night. In the morning, people still discussed the about what happened last night, and almost all TVs were showing news about the bombs. “We have helped them (Pakistan) for the earthquake, but why they still kill us?”, an ordinary worker in Delhi screamed, emotionally. The road of the main bazaar is for sure quieter, as the open market just like being removed away from the area. The government prohibited open market in this area apparently. And for sure, the harassments towards foreigners from the road sellers and rickshaw drivers was much less. The road was just quiet, clean, and had very different atmosphere from the people. When the afternoon comes, the live in Paharganj is getting about normal again. Shops are getting busier. Just witnessed how strange the Indians shopkeepers dealing with their business. I tried to bargain for a pair of trousers, and  complained that the trousers were too long and asked the owner to give alteration without any further additional cost. When I bargained quite politely, suddenly the shopkeeper said, in broken English, “OK, you speak over. My [...]

October 30, 2005 // 0 Comments

New Delhi – After the Blast

October 30, 2005 The everyday life was just started in Paharganj. The days usually start very late here in India, and now after the blasts, the atmosphere in the morning is even much quiter. You can say that almost all TV running are showing the news about the blasts, and even the news about the drowned train with 100+ victims are really “drowned” by the blast news. The usually busy open market in main bazaar in Paharganj is gone. Someone said that it was prohibited by the government after the blast. The topic of discussion of all people today was only the blast. “We have helped them for the earthquake, why they killed us?” condemned a common worker in Delhi towards the Pakistanis. Even it is not proven yet, the people tend to blame Muslims and Pakistani terrorists for the blasts. Still, there are many interviews around the area, and curious people with high expectance to be filmed on TV coming around. The shops are opening at 10, a little bit later than usual, but the harassments from the sellers and touts towards tourists are much lesser. It was part of our daily life to be yelled, “hello, hello…, annyonghaseyo, [...]

October 30, 2005 // 0 Comments

New Delhi – Bom Blast

October 29, 2005 Hotel Bajrang, 100 Rs New Delhi shooked. There were several bombs rocked the city, and one of them is just less than 100 m from the hotel when I live. During the moment of the blast, we were all in Indonesian embassy for breaking fast party. (Thanks God, just couldnt imagine what would happen if I was lingering around the location, because it is just so close with the restaurant I use to go. Thanks also to the Indonesian embassy party). The bomb blasted at 5:40 pm, by the time I was just arrived in the embassy. OK, I heard the news when I was in the embassy. Suddenly rushed my way to go back to Paharganj to see what happen. Along the way, everything just looked normal, the traffic is normal, and even not so many police on road. But getting closer to the New Delhi station, there were more police everywhere. The road to Main Bazaar, Paharganj, was closed to traffic. But curious locals coming all over the area to see what happened (and also to steal the chance to be filmed on TV when the reporters reporting from the area. Just cant understand how [...]

October 29, 2005 // 0 Comments

New Delhi – Pakistan Visa Struggle

October 25, 2005 Hotel Bajrang 100 Rs The day started not quite in smooth way. I took a bus to Channakya Puri, and this is my dozenth time taking the very bus. I know exactly that the fare should be 5 Rs, but the conductor insisted to get 7 Rs. The person beside me paid only 2 Rs and travelled further than I did. So I really dont know how the fare system works here, maybe conductor mood? OK, what was occupying my mind only the Pakistani visa, so I didnt argue at all for this 2 Rs rip off. Friends, I got already a letter from Indonesian embassy in Beijing. The diplomat there was so friendly and helpful, I just got it by sending my passport photocopy by fax. And the second day my aunt went to the embassy, picked it up, and faxed to me here in Delhi. The problem is whether this would help, because now I am in India, not in China. First I went to the Indonesian embassy to find the staff, to ask for suggestions of what to answer if I was asked. Then I went directly to the Pakistan embassy. There was long [...]

October 25, 2005 // 2 Comments

New Delhi – In the Middle of Nowhere

October 24, 2005 Hotel Bajrang, 100 Rs Another stories of how ridiculous taking a public bus in New Delhi could be. Today I was invited by someone to have a tea somewhere out of the town, and I took public bus considering that autorickshaw could be amazingly expensive. The bus was departing from Connaught Place, and was really crowded (comparable to those of Beijing). I have told the conductor to tell me when it arrives, as the area is completely greek to me. But, oho, as expected, he didnt call me at all. The bus was overcrowded at that time, I had to struggle to get my way down, and I have passed some stations. So I had to go back, taking the same bus of opposite direction. The bus I took was empty, so I told the conductor, please, please tell me when it arrives. And as, again, expected, he didnt call me at all, and I missed one station. I decided to go back by walking…. When I wanted to return back to Connaught Place after the meeting, I took the same bus, paid the full fare (10 Rs), but after an hour, there were only two passengers [...]

October 24, 2005 // 2 Comments

New Delhi – Sightseeing Delhi

October 22, 2005 Hotel Bajrang, 100 Rs As planned before, today I went with Nef to do sightseeing around New Delhi. We visited Red Fort and Jame Masjid of New Delhi. With the brain stuffed with the visa problem, I didnt really enjoy the huge, red (of course) Red Fort. The mosque is also huge, and there were lots of people waiting for eating time. Now is Ramazan/Ramadan fasting month, but surprise…, around the mosque you can find easily people selling food. Something that wont be happen in Indonesia. And there were lots of fakir (poor people) begging for donation on the stairs to the mosque. What I felt was, how lucky I am. For a moment, I just can be thankful the God, forget all of my problems, and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon in the mosques. Sometimes some people stopped and asked to take pictures with me. Every Saturday, 6 pm, there is “buka puasa bersama” programme in Indonesian Embassy where Indonesians are invited to have dinner together during the Ramadan fasting month. I have met some diplomats, students, staff, and many other Indonesian communities here in New Delhi. Felt little bit awkward though, the atmosphere was just little [...]

October 22, 2005 // 0 Comments

New Delhi – Letter to Mr Ambassador

October 21, 2005 Hotel Bajrang, 100 Rs Thinking all of those alternatives, I tried to send a letter to Indonesian Embassy in Islamabad, mentioning that I have been before in Pakistan and wishing their help to give me a supporting letter. Later on the day, I received a quick email from them, stating that they are supporting my idea, but just cant be a sponsor. I also have posted some messages in Internet forums, sending some emails to Pakistani journalists, etc etc. It was very busy night yesterday. Another attemptable way is writing a letter to the mr. ambassador in new delhi. For such a formal and diplomatic letter, I asked a friend of mine, working in Indonesian embassy in Tashkent-Uzbekistan, to help me to give corrections to my letter. And in the afternoon, I got my letter corrected, with very beautiful words, ready to be delivered to the embassy in New Delhi. I took the bus from Connaught Place (No.620, 5 Rs), and alas, I fell asleep in the bus….. Had to walk back for around 40 minutes to reach Indonesian embassy from where I stopped. The staff told me, I should have the letter to be put in [...]

October 21, 2005 // 3 Comments

New Delhi – Good Bye Pakistan?

October 20, 2005 Hotel Bajrang, 100 NRs The earthquake in Pakistan, with more than 40,000 victims, has haunted my nights since I came back from Annapurna. What I am thinking is simply rushing my way to Pakistan, and do all the best there to help the people. I just cant forget the suffering faces of the victims of tsunami in Aceh, and I am sure, the people in Pakistan side of Kashmir suffer the same pains at this moment. Today I went very early to the Pakistani embassy in Santipath, Channakyapuri. The embassy is a huge, mosque dome shaped building, with several gates. And the visa section on the gate no.3, which was quite difficult for me to find and I had to make a tour around the embassy. There were lots of people queueing, but there is special window for foreigners, so not until 2 minutes, there was someone answering my questions. The procedure was straightforward, I was given an application form, he let me to fill it out, and…. get a letter from my embassy. According to my previous experience, letters from Indonesian embassy are always easy, considering that many of the diplomats encouraging young people to travel [...]

October 20, 2005 // 2 Comments

New Delhi – The Ending of Broken Camera Story

October 18, 2005 Bajrang Guesthouse 100 Rs My camera is broken, since I entered Nepal from Tibet. Just to refresh the memory, I had a new camera of Nikon 8800 and suddenly it started not to work properly just after i crossed the border of Nepal. In Nepal there is no Nikon service centre, and I have tried to service my camera in a Canon office, but it failed. Now I am in Delhi, where there is at least a Nikon office (got the address from the internet). I rushed to the address (quite far away from the city centre) right after my arrival in Delhi (yesterday). The guy over there told me that I needed around 10 days at least to get my camera repaired because one sparepart is not available. I am in rush because I want to go to Pakistan as soon as possible. He gave me an address of another Nikon authorized service in Delhi, that is Interfoto. On the very day, I went to Interfoto. The technician just heard me explaining the problem, and said “You need to change your motherboard, which is 14000 Rs (450 dollar)” without even looking at my camera. I just [...]

October 18, 2005 // 10 Comments

New Delhi – Culture Shock

October 17, 2005 Welcome Inn Guesthouse, 100 Rs Just arrived today in Delhi, and wanna share how shocked I am by the scene here. It seems that no matter how many countries I have been travelling, I am still a complete beginner in India. I. Scheme 1: Rickshaw wallah (rickshaw driver trick 1) Place: Near India Gate Time : October 17, 2005 afternoon I was trying to go to Indonesian embassy in Chakyanapuri embassy area, by walking. Many rickshaw drivers passed and asked me where to go. I just ignored them, until once I missed my direction. The driver, with a Sikh turban, offered 40 rupees to go. And he insisted that the embassy was soooo far. I said 20 rupees only that I can pay. He tried to bargain from 30, 25, until he agreed at 20. OK, I was seated in the rickshaw. He knew I spoke Hindi. So he said in Hindi, that he needed commision from a shop, so he would bring me to a shop, I just need to look around without buying anything for about 10 minutes. I told him that i was not agree, I was indeed rushing to the embassy as it [...]

October 17, 2005 // 2 Comments

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