Premise: Our friends – Sarah and Lisa are visiting us for 10 days and we are planning a tour of North India with them.
Disclaimer: I am donning a ‘Details hat’
Date: 29th Dec, 2007
10:30AM, Hotel Rajasthan Palace: We finished our ‘Porridge’ breakfast. I have had promised the driver that we will be ready by 9AM, but we have gotten to talk about KIPP (don’t ask) and all the other teachers who work(ed) at KIPP. That’s one topic on which all the girls can talk for long time. I bet I can do the same about Touchpoint (the place I worked). So, now we were excited about our day – we had camel & elephant rides planned.
11:30AM, somewhere in Jaipur: After some haggling, we fixed the price with the guy for both Camel & Elephant rides. Camel rides cost 100Rs/person and Elephant about 125Rs/person. This is the first time I was riding a Camel. As I sat on it, I was shit scared. Here is a confession: I am really scared of anything that disturbs the stability below my feet. Flight turbulences scare and I hold the seat like a little scared baby. Rollercoasters are my nightmares. Bungee jumping would probably kill me half way through. But I know one day I need to get over this fear. I need to plan for that.
Anyhow, we got on top of 2 Camels and the guy took us for a walk on a tar road with traffic going along for about 1000 feet. That’s it. By the time we ended our Camel trip I was feeling ok with the ‘Camel turbulence’. Now Elephant is a little tricky. We all sat on it and we had to face away from each other. Half way through our ride, the Elephant started to freak out. Not much but good enough to make me pray to my favorite ‘Elephant God’. I guess He listened to my prayers and we got back safely.
We took some pictures with ‘Jal Mahal’ in the background and happen to eat some Indian Masala. I was not sure whether it was a good idea, but our friends had some of it too.
1:00PM, some cloth store in Jaipur: Our smart driver took us to a very nice place where we can buy some clothes, bags etc. I bought some book marks and Sarah & Lisa bought some bangles. The guy at the store showed us how they hand block print the cloth with pretty colors. The colors are actually made of vegetables so it’s all organic.
3:00PM, some pottery store in Jaipur: As we told our driver that we like to see some pottery store he took us to a very nice one. The owner of the store came out and gave us a demo of how they make those amazing pots. It was very cool to watch him show how glass, sand etc are mixed and how they take shape of beautiful pottery. He said, that only about 60% of the whole batch will be successful, the remaining faulty ones are either sold at cheap price or re-cycled. I do remember that at this moment I saw Sarah and she didn’t look comfortable. I thought may be the guy is wasting our time explaining the science behind the pottery, so I asked him to take us in to the store.
Once inside, we were give some pretty gifts each for free(from the 40% discarded batch though). We started looking around and me and Sangita were planning on to buy some. Then suddenly out of no where we had a situation which later got called as “Man down in Pottery barn“. Sarah said, she is not feeling well and ‘Plonk’ – she just sat down where she was standing. She didn’t look good at all. We didn’t know what was happening to her. She said, she felt weak and her head is spinning. She might throw up etc. I was like – ‘OMG, SARAH please don’t die in India’ Of course I was saying that to myself, no one heard me. If she did, that would have set a bad record for us among our friends. I would have never been able to show my face to Josh! Yes, in that moment it was all about me.
Ok, now coming back to the man down situation. India is a very friendly place. Everyone in the store came to us with an advice and a solution. Everyone in the store was concerned.
“Make her sleep flat on her back”
“Ask her to keep her feet on a wall” (good thing she was wearing a capri)
“She should drink some tea”
“Ah, it’s nothing. She is a white girl and hence a weak girl. In 1 hour she will be ok”
“These foreigners can’t take Indian heat”
So, we were offered a bed in the back of the store where poor Sarah relaxed. Now, it’s hard to read what Sarah is going through. After hanging out with her I realized it’s usually hard to guess what is she usually thinking. Now in this situation where she is down with something, it was very hard to guess what was actually happening. She had a scared look. Both Sangita and Lisa were sitting next to her. One thing we did totally wrong was that we just told Sarah all the stories of our friends who went through worse. This did not go well with Sarah and I think she was secretly hating on us.
So finally we decided that she need some energy drink. I rushed out to get some ‘Electrolytes water’ which is very well known in US as Gatorade. After an hour or so, she was able to get up and walk. We decided that no more shopping for us and we should go to our rooms.
5:00PM, Our hotel room: As Sarah lied in her bed, we had nothing better to do. We sat around her and talked. Somehow, the discussion went into discussions of ‘Big stores Vs. Mom & Pop stores’. Now I should admit – me and Sang had a long discussion about this 1 year back and we already know the plus and minus of this topic. And I realized that Lisa is such a sweet girl that she cannot live with disagreement and conflict. She reminds me of ‘Charlotte’ from Sex and the city. So, there was a big discussion between Sang and Lisa. This continued through out the trip and kinda grew into a mean topic towards Lisa – so we had to institute a ‘Love Lisa Day’ when we were in Delhi.
So anyhow, we rambled on and then gave Sarah some time to relax. I made some calls etc. I also thanked our driver and let him go. We promised that we will recommend him to all our friends who are traveling to Delhi
9:00PM, Our hotel room: As we have decided not to go anywhere for the evening – we kinda relaxed in our place. After we had dinner at our hotel, I got some drinks for us and we sat down to have some discussions. As Sarah sat in the middle we all sat around her and raised our hands like kids to take turns and talk. This was the best discussion ever we had. By now, as I have realized that one of friends can just fall flat anywhere and another one can feel bad if I disagree with her I was no longer intimidated by their whiteness! :-). Seriously though, we talked a lot about religion, God, spirituality, questions, solutions, life, kipp, conversations with god, Thich Nhat Hahn, JK, Swami, Jesus, Christianity etc. We all enjoyed our talk and spent till late mid night just discussing about all these things. As for me, this was the first time ever I could actively participate in the girls’ discussion as it was a topic which was not all about KIPP and which is close to my heart.
We all went back to sleep getting excited about our next day’s all day meditation camp. The talk about spirituality was a great precursor for the next day.