Tuesday, 27 January 2009

hello from Kerala!

From 35 degrees and humid Kerala I have found some time to brief you about my experiences in the south so far. After being stuck in Mumbai for one day we managed to get on a night bus to Goa where we spent two great days. Once I get home I will post a more elaborated story about these experiences! :D

Last night a night train took us to Kerala where we just booked a boat trip for tomorrow morning. The trip will take 22 hours and is supposed to cover all the beauty that seems to be hidden in the so called back waters. At the moment I fervently hope all this will be worth the money we're paying for it ;)

Flight back to Delhi is scheduled for Sunday afternoon and Monday I will post some detailed stories about all this! Of course with the related pictures and videos..!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Upcoming trips!

Hey all!

as of now I am preparing for a journey to Goa and Kerala! Goa is the state in India well known for its beaches whereas Kerala is famous for its forests and jungle! Tonight I will depart from the domestic airport, off to Mumbai, from where a nightbus will take us to Goa. Spending some days over there after which a train will take us to Kerala. At least, that's the plan! A full update will follow as soon as I get back, but for the next ten days I will probably not be able to post any stories!

Below you see a picture taken some time ago. Chilling out at the Taj during sunset.. Good times..

Monday, 19 January 2009


Friday night, eight o’clock, stuck in Delhi traffic, with a train to catch in a few minutes. No way to make it in time, whereas the detours of the rickshaw driver did not help much. Fortunately the train was delayed (quite rare and therefore not anticipated upon by us) and we could still make it to our destination: Amritsar!

Capital of Punjab, centre of the Sikh religion, Amritsar is home to the famous Golden Temple. In addition to other Sikh temples, where visitors get food offered 24/7, the Golden temple also offers ‘peoples of all classes’ a place to spend the night. All involved in the temple are volunteers; the men working in the cloakroom where you have to leave your shoes behind (even cleaning them from time to time!), the men preparing and serving the food, the guards.. And being told that rich people come to the temple to help clean dishes because the respect gained is so enormous.. It is all really admirable and impressive.

After having visited the temple in the morning we rented a cab that brought us to the Indian – Pakistani border where we witnessed the change of guard. Basically it comes down to the ‘border guard’ doing some ceremony which is witnessed by thousands of people. Spectator seats are set up all around the road so that all who want to are able to view the happening. A mirror image is drawn up at the Pakistani side of the border, and all moves by the soldiers are similar at the other side of the gate.

To be honest I found the whole thing rather pathetic. The soldiers were supposed to be marching synchronized, which they didn’t, as some tripped over the feet of the soldier leading the session or slipped over the ninety degrees turns in the march. Lifting their feet as high as their faces, rigid and apparently practiced infinitely, with the crowds going totally wild on it.. A lot of cheering and screaming and yelling, as in some kind of football match, with rage and pride on their faces.. The whole thing took a whole afternoon and I had the feeling to be the only one (perhaps with some other ‘outsiders’) who regarded the whole situation as rather excessive. Especially when you realize that the same thing happens every day ;)

But that may just be an outsider’s view?

Friday, 16 January 2009

With picture..

Just to enable you guys to visualise the party recently mentioned.. :)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


A Punjab festival, characterised by bonfires and punjabi dances. The festival is related to the Sikh, which form a separate religious unity in India. They have played a prominent role in India's history and are easy to recognise by their ever present turbans.

The party I attended last night with three fellow trainees from kalkaji was organised to celebrate this particular festival. On the rooftop of one of the trainee houses in Delhi's outskirts a big bonfire was lit. The party was complete with a complete DJ stand and coloured lights. I can state without doubt that parties like these keep the life of a trainee interesting enough!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Going out in Delhi

New Delhi’s nightlife has little to offer compared to the size of its city. And although my intentions for crossing continents’ borders was not for the sake of having a good night out, no shortage of this before departure, it was rather welcome after a few months of abstaining from this.

The only locations where parties are allowed to continue for as long as they have to, besides our trainee houses ;), are five start hotels where guests have to pay up to 3000 rps (50 euro) as far as entrance is concerned. Working as a volunteer does not really allow this kind of behaviour I must admit.

But there was an outcome, and one that all the trainees have gratefully taken. Urban Pind organises an ‘expat’ night every Thursday, which basically comes down to foreigners not paying entrance in a decent bar. Closure time fluctuates around 1 am, but as all of us have to work the next day it’s a burden that we managed to overcome.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


At this moment I am at an unprecedented stage of integration in the Indian subcontinent, something I had never expected four months ago. During my first days, weeks, months even, my perception of the Indian culture was not all too positive to say the least. The initial adjustment phase of, say, two weeks is misleading in the sense that you feel rather comfortable but actually have not adjusted fully to anything. The attitude of people, the chaos on the streets, it is all still annoying even though you got used to it.

Things have definitely taken a turn in that respect. I cannot say that I am fully integrated after less than half a year, but definitely some positive line has set in over the last months that has brought me to a point I thought I would never reach.

I think this development is best illustrated by an example. As Johan and I left work today by auto-rickshaw after bargaining long and skillfully enough until the requested price was reached we directed the driver through the busy Delhi traffic to a stop close to our house. After paying the guy Johan set off to buy two glasses of freshly made orange juice from a street vendor whereas I did the same across the street by buying two omelets with bread, fried in a mix of spices. As we enjoyed the food and drinks we leaned comfortably against the barrow of the juice vendor whilst the parked motorbike next to us served as a tray to put our glasses on. A satisfying five minutes later we took a stroll, dodging auto-rickshaws and bicycles on the road and ignoring the ever present horning of cars. We don’t even hear that anymore. Waving at the broker who we could distinguish in his office, walking the streets without having to think of which road to take.. New Delhi has become a new home and I have come to appreciate and love it.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Travelling through Rajasthan

It’s the fifth of January now and it is freezing cold.. Or at least that is how I perceive the, say, twelve degree Celsius temperature we face outside. After four months of seemingly never ending summer the sudden shift in temperature is quite unwelcome. Worst part is that buildings here are not equipped with central heating and the like because eleven out of twelve months those facilities are rather superfluous. Now however the fans at the ceiling haven’t moved in weeks and the cold in creeping in through the walls, we are wearing jackets and scarves inside the house and at night several layers of blankets are necessary for a good night of sleep. Another surprise of India I’d say.

Little hinder from cold I had the days in between Christmas and New year’s eve, when I was travelling with Antonia from Denmark, a good friend of mine who came over for ten days. Rajasthan is known as the ‘desert state’ of India and the clear blue skies and the ever present sun make weather conditions even pleasant this time of the year. Five days and four nights our journey took and we have visited some of the most beautiful places of India. Not having slept in a hotel room even once during this time must be a good indication of the distance we have covered, as the nights were consecutively spent on a train, a bus, the desert and again on a bus.

Udaipur is a lovely town with cozy buildings, a beautiful inner city, foothills with wild parks surrounding the conglomerations, and the famous lake palace as the outstanding tourist attraction. After having spent one day there –far too little but lack of time made us do so- we moved on to Jaisalmer, where we engaged in a so called desert safari by camel. Spending the night under the starts with nothing more to cover ourselves than some dirty blankets was definitely a great experience!

The journey back to Delhi by bus took another 21 hours but was definitely enjoyed to the fullest extend. Please take a look at the pictures, I hope they can supply some insight in the great time we had!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

happy newyear!

About four and a half hours earlier than most of you the countdown in Kalkaji, New Delhi, led the way to a new year. In our flat a big newyear's eve party was organised and loads of people from other trainee houses showed up. However, since the party began rather early and alcohol was readily available in a seemingly infinite supply the party scene ceased drastically after two a.m. Quite unprecedented to be heading for your bed at three in the morning at the first day of the new year, sth that has not happened for as long as I can remember! India seems to be different in every aspect...

Soon an elaborated story will be posted about my most recent journey into Rajastan!
As for now, a very happy 2009!