Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Have a great birthday in the NYC! Can't wait to see you soon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Taj from River Bank

The tour of the Taj Mahal is, course, amazing. But even better is to see it from the bank of the Jamuna river, outside the Taj complex. You can do fun things there like try to catch the perfect reflection on camera, or pretend to jump over the dome, or maybe a camel will walk up to you when you are taking pictures of the building.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Music from Rajasthan

Had the great experience of getting to see live Rajasthani music at an outdoor amphitheater and took video. The two women dancers up front were cool, but the star of the show was the guy to the far left who would stand up and go into a trance while playing his hand percussion instrument, kind of like castanets. Definite showman who really had the crowd captivated.

(Click for videos)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pics From the Neighborhood

A few shots from my neighborhood taken on a 110-degree Sunday afternoon.

The fruit stand.

The barber shop.

The neighborhood card game.

Sign for the neighborhood restaurant.

The chicken is indeed very fresh. Didn't see where the mutton came from though.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kahn-I-Khana: Statesman, Poet, My Neighbor

There's an enormous tomb few blocks from my apartment that was built in 1598. No one really seems to take care of it, and you are free to walk around, in and over every inch of it. Local kids even use one of the walls as a soccer goal.

Anyway, the plaque at the entrance says the tomb belongs to a guy named Khan-I-Khana Mirza Abdul Rahim Khan, son of Bairam Khan. His dad was a regent to the famous Mughal King Akbhar, and Khan-I-Khana became a favorite of the emporer's and was eventually rewarded with riches and governerships. I Googled his name and it turns out that Khan-I-Khana was also a Hindi poet noted for his couplets. He wrote under the name Rahim and his Confucius-like nuggets of wisdom are pretty cool. Here are three that I enjoy:

"Says Rahim, the truly great never reveal their worth. Nor do those who are truly worthy of praise, praise themselves."

"Says Rahim, people will find many many ways to be related to fortune. But only he is a true friend, who stands by you in misfortune"

"To cure a bitter cucumber, we cut its head off and rub in salt. Says Rahim, to cure a bitter mouth we should apply the same remedy"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Palace Life

Did an overnight stay at a hillside palace in Rajasthan. A few rules I learned about palace life:
  • Drop breadcrumbs or something when exploring the premises. It's easy to get lost.
  • Don't try to do anything except sit by the pool if the temperature climbs above 110.
  • Be on the lookout for monkeys and peacocks invading your balcony.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cow Paths

One of Delhi's unique features is the cows in the street. I can't imagine there are many other cities of 20 million people where livestock are a common site almost anywhere in town. I've read that the city has a brigade of cow police trying to remove all of the animals by 2010, which a very optimistic goal. First, the cow police can't simply turn the cows into hamburger. Because cows are sacred, they have to be removed to farms outside the city. Second, there's a black market for the cow's milk, so the cow catchers are often attacked by small mobs.

Most foreigners get used to the cows after a week or two. But not me. While I'm no longer surprised to see a cow in the city, I have discovered that I am terrified by them. Cows are scary animals. Quiet, expressionless, enormous. Willing to eat trash. Good at staring. Some have horns, some don't (which is weird -- and I'm talking cows, not bulls). I don't think cows in a field are scary, but a cow in a dark, narrow, city alley is a terrifying creature.

Anyway, there's arachnaphobia, ophidiophobia and lots of other phobias. Does anyone know if there's a word for the fear of city cows?