Monday, January 21, 2008

First impressions in India

On the road again, or rather "10 cramped hours in cattle class".

My hotel is a Marriott, not everyone's cup of tea, but I think they are excellent. In my previous job we always stayed in them, nowadays I rarely get the chance; usually the hotel is um, economic. Anyway, the luxury of the hotel is in stark contrast with the surroundings. Quite a culture shock, it is like living in a travelogue.

Stereotypical taxi from the airport, including the dangly bits on the mirror. Streets being brushed by doubled-up women holding rushes, and this at 1:30 AM. The reflective safety jackets were particularly incongruous. And yes, there was even a cow in the road.

The guards, sniffer-dog, and metal detectors at the hotel entrance were a bit of a shock. The helpful and polite staff are overwhelming. I think I have said "thank-you" more than any other phrase since I got here.

Walking out of the hotel on Sunday morning I was surrounded by tricycle drivers wanting to take me for a tour. When I politely declined they disappeared, and I was not bothered again. Just outside the hotel the poverty is heart-rending, yet the busy road ignores them. I have never seen anyone riding side-saddle on a motorbike while wearing a sari before.


Alina said...

Next, I expect the report on the ability of the Exeter'ian stomach to cope with the local food.
That's if you dare venturing outside the comfort of the Marriott!


Clive said...

This area is particularly noted for its Byriani dishes. Not the bland rice mixture we get at home, but quite fiery. The hotel has a specialist Byriani chef, and they are excellent.

One of the delegates took me out to lunch today, Monday (when was the last time that happened?). He is from Bombay and complained about how spicey the Southern Indian food is. The lunch was too hot for him, but I found it bearable, although a bit much for lunch.

No side effects, yet.