Asia, North America · 14 Days · 90 Moments · March 2016

Sarah's Time in India 2016

2 April 2016

1 April, 2016 It was my last day! I didn't sleep well. I never finished this blogpost for the end of my trip or re-entry shock, even though it was a lot. I guess you'll just have to find me and ask.
Cont. We headed out a little after karaoke ended, and on the way home we saw a guy on a moped absolutely wipe out in front of us. He was fine but his ego was damaged. I was just waiting to see an accident to be honest, the driving there is absurd. We hung out with all the people at the apartment and then headed to bed.
Cont. At around 20:00 we headed to a party we planned on attending. It was at the rooftop bar that looked like America in the 80's. There were posters of the Pussycat Dolls and Marilyn Munroe scattered everywhere along with country music and karaoke. It was an awesome time, I met some more people and also got to hang with Sasha again. There were three other people in particular that I really liked, a guy named Nick, a guy named Taz, and a woman named Kimberly. I talked with all of them for a while but Kimberly perked my interest. She's a teacher at the Bangalore international school. So she teaches high schoolers from all over the globe. We talked for a while about the school, a place I would die to attend. She has students from all walks of life (as long as they can afford it) and they're all incredibly intelligent. If I could, I would transfer there for my senior year in an instant.
Side note: When Cody and I were waiting for our Uber outside of the courthouse, a rickshaw driver approached us. He asked if we needed a ride and we declined saying we had an Uber. He said no no he can offer us a ride for way cheaper. We told him no the Uber was cheaper. He said he'd only charge 10 rupees. Cody then turned to him and said, "No, you're going to take us to a store to get commission." The rickshaw driver started laughing hysterically and gave Cody a high five. He knew we knew their game. It was the best moment, he was completely outsmarted and he loved it.
Cont. I never know what to get anyone. On top of that, I was running low on spending cash so I limited myself. I did go into a Muslim shop named, "Naughtee" for myself. It's a store that literally sells crop tops and deep-neck dresses. Seriously? When are women who wear burkas going to wear that? Either way I got two cute tops there for super cheap. I picked out 4 things and teenage boys about my age were working and I was trying to go in a fitting room, they kept encouraging to look at more and more and kept pulling out selections for me. The owner scolded them and said I had enough. Too funny, everyone is always trying to make more no matter what. We lastly made our way to Cody's new tailor. He did an awesome job with Cody's shirt and he loved it immediately. The fabric was something we spotted the first time we went shopping and Cody was determined to get a shirt in that fabric.
Cont. The shrines and statues are beautiful but there were money collection boxes everywhere and it was just gates guiding you to walk to the next place. Once you're finished in the temple, there are loads and loads and LOADS of gifts shops. After you get through a certain amount there's a sign that says "For frequent visitors, exit here." So basically, if you worship at the shrine often enough, they don't make you walk through all the shops. As the whole it was awesome and I loved it. Cody accident opened the "can of worms" as you might say because he agreed to take one photo at the end. Of course, one person does it, the rest follow suit. We were bombarded and had to go hide somewhere else while we waited for an Uber. We drove back another 40 minutes to Commercial Street, for the third time. I had to do gift shopping for my friends and he had to pick up the second shirt he made. We haggled with deals and I'm a terrible gifter. Seriously, I love giving but I hate giving gifts.
Cont. While we were waiting for our Uber we noticed another building. It was beautiful and you could see the British influence on the architecture. We also saw people working on a new Metra station. Cody told me when he lived in Bangalore the first time, it didn't even exist. It's awesome how the city is constantly developing. We drove about 40 minutes to get to this temple specifically dedicated to Krishna. It was enormous, I wish we could have taken some photos but it was prohibited. I wasn't allowed in at first because my dress only went to my knees so we had to pay for a longer skirt. I was weary at first because to enter we had to step into this little dirty puddle of water to cleanse our feet. In a non-spiritual sense, my first were probably the dirtiest they've ever been after that. The temple itself was beautiful and we walked around a lot. To be honest, I'm not sure how Hindus find it to be so spiritual.

1 April 2016

31 March, 2016 Today was jam-packed. We got up and went to a restaurant of Nimish's recommendation. It was good, a bit American but pretty okay. My favorite place we are at the was still the one in Agra. From there we walked past St. Mark's Cathedral (Ashok's recommendation) but we couldn't go in. We just carried on and made our way to Cubbon Park, the nicest park in Bangalore. It's true, the park was beautiful. Super green, and the trees looked so cool. Have I mentioned the trees before? They look so different, they're all twisty and look like there are 5 trees coming together to form one. We saw couple chillin' there together, getting close because they aren't allowed to at home. We saw a little kid with a horse (a horse!) and I talked to him about it for a minute. I was so tempted to ask to hop on really quick. On the other side of the park, there is the High Court of Karnataka. We tried to get in to see it but every entrance we tried we were sent away.
Cont. We had some and although coconut isn't my favorite taste, watching the man cut the coconut open with a huge knife and then stick a straw in was awesome. I probably would have liked it more if it were cold. After heading back to DriveU for a short time, we went out separate ways and Cody and I went to get Chinese food. I couldn't tell if the people were Indian or not, they looked Asian but their English sounded Indian. There are Asian countries on India's border so they probably came from there. We returned home and made our way to bed. It was almost my last day!
Cont. 30 March, 2016 Cody made a lot of progress on his start-up when we were at his office. Ashok and I went off separately and he took me around on his moped while we were checking out places for a party on Friday. Crazy as it is, riding on his moped was the safest I had felt driving during the whole trip. Instead of almost hitting a bunch of cars or being stuck, we weaved our way through all the traffic and were just speeding past everyone. It was so much fun. The places we checked out for the party were all really nice. It's cool to see Ashok deal with Indians, he knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. You need to be so firm and refuse to take no as an answer in India. He settled on the second place we went. I wish I could be there for the party but my flight leaves a little before it. Ashok and I went back to the office and picked up Cody. I told Ashok on the way that I really wanted to drink out of a coconut off of the street.

31 March 2016

Random notes: All the hair cut places have photos of celebrities on the outside. Like 2007 Joe Jonas and Zac Efron. It's so funny, because they wouldn't actually cut your hair like that. It would be impossible to have a big car in the city, the Ubers that Cody and I take are small and we still often get stuck or can't move because there isn't enough room on the street. I also miss my Eep (that's his name). I don't really like having Danesh around. Having a servant to do everything and come at your call is nice, but in all honesty it's weird. He's only $150 a month to live in. Honestly, if I had the option myself I wouldn't have him but I would keep a maid coming every couple days to keep the house clean.

30 March 2016

March 30, 2016 19:06 Bangalore, India I didn't come to India with the expectation that I would be changed over night. I figured it would open my eyes to some things and maybe make me question some, but I didn't expect "change". I think I might be changing though. Not from the culture per se, but from the people. Particularly my brother. It has shaped my world views in a number of ways but also in a number of instances I've caught myself questioning how I think at home. How I get caught up in high school and Kenosha people. I try to think older, and be mature but it's hard to be years older than a lot of friends mentally. I am not bashing anyone, but I have had a lot of good guidance and experience in my life. India has brought some things that I won't necessarily share to light. But I'm also thankful for my brother in helping in that way.
Cont. DriveU is the company and it is doing well in India. It's a lot larger than Adam's so it was cool to see the interworking of it. I also got to meet Ashok's three loves. His dogs, Lily, Corey, and Lucy. They're all so sweet and he saved them off the street. The three of us grabbed some lunch at a place called, California Burrito. It's basically an Indian Chipotle. So I loved it. Cody's buddy actually started this company as well and he now has about 12 restaurants in India. We're back at DriveU and Cody and I are both just working on some stuff in his office. We haven't figured out our plans for the rest of the night yet.
March 30, 2016 17:02 Bangalore, India Before I begin to summarize my day, I want to describe the sounds I hear right now. There is a Muslim recording of someone singing, specifying that is time for all the Muslim people to pray. They all face the direction of Saudi Arabia or the Mecca I believe. It's some holy sight that all Muslim men make a pilgrimage to at some point in their lifetime. Kinda cool. I believe it happens [5?] times a day and it just depends where the sun is. I'm guessing right now it's the 17:00 one. Anyway, Cody and I first headed to his friend Adam's office this morning. I met him the other day and Cody regularly helps him out with his start-up. It is still a small company, there were only 3 other Indian men there working. It was awesome to see Cody giving his insight on the company's stuff. We headed about 20 minutes south in a different part of Bangalore to see Ashok's company and Cody's office that Ashok gave him.
Cont. We left there pretty late and went back to commercial street to go back for some fabric we saw the first time around. Cody loved it and wanted to make another shirt out of it. The guys at the fabric shop were ecstatic to see us, since we were returning, satisfied customers. After we headed back and went to the new tailor to design Cody's shirt. We headed home and had a pretty chill night. It was just an awesome day because of the clothes, it's such a cool process to see how it all happens. I am also so in love with my henna and am trying so hard not to get my arms wet because I want it to last as long as possible. It stained thicker than the henna paint itself so it does not look as intricate but it's still just as beautiful.
Cont. As of now, it's just awesome I am strutting around in a one of a kind dress designed by yours truly. When we were walking down the street we saw some guys with a little stand for doing hennas. Obviously I was beyond excited and I did it. It was 300 RS per arm and I got both done. One man was working on one while the other did my other arm separately. They did a good portion of my arm and hands really quickly. It only took about 35 minutes in total. The designs were so intricate and gorgeous. The men said I couldn't touch anything for an hour but I really wanted the stain so set so it would be there for weeks so I didn't touch anything until about 21:00 that night. So about 5 hours. It was tough to eat but we went to a restaurant Cody has been really fond of since he first moved here called, Coconut Grove. It was really good and the man was super friendly. He got me a straw and cut my food for me because he saw me struggling to eat and drink cause of my drying henna.
Cont. Cody and I went straight to our tailors to check on our clothes. His shirt was complete and looks extremely nice but he needed it to be tighter. The tailor did it but Cody also requested for a different bottom hem. The tailor refused even when we tried to offer him more. He was causing trouble but it's because he thought it would ruin the shirt. Cody really liked the shirt but didn't love it because of that. We ended up just taking the shirt to another tailor and he did exactly what Cody wanted and now it's absolutely perfect. My dress was perfect as well. We had it brought in and shortened and we watched my tailor do it by hand. It was awesome. It turned out beautifully and is probably my favorite article of clothing. I wish I could make more. My tailor apparently charged us double because the new tailor Cody went to said he would have done the same thing for half the price. That's okay though, I'll make more eventually.

29 March 2016

March 29, 2016 13:43 Bangalore, India Quoting my other brilliant brother, Mac Candee - "If I didn't have malaria before, I do now." I have so many mosquito bites. Cody is at the gym right now but when he gets back we'll head out and start our day. We get to pick up our clothes today and start making more! I was also reading Cosmo on Snapchat today and one of the articles was on the most beautiful hennas, so I think that's a sign that I need to get one today.
Cont. I'm sure they've seen low-caste people sitting up there before, but never two white people who aren't even Hindu. When the service was over we caught a rickshaw to a restaurant to eat. The place was so modern and colorful, if it were in the states it probably would be my favorite restaurant. The food was only okay though. We got back to the apartment around 23:30 and I have been journaling ever since and it is now 02:30. I'm excited to pick up our clothes tomorrow and start making more stuff and see what else we're doing!
Cont. We sat on the concrete slab for probably 45 minutes watching the service. When we first arrived there was a narrated light show about Shiva and karma and the cycle of enlightenment. It was really eye opening and differed to what I thought was true. I thought you move up or down in caste systems based on karma. While karma is a big part of it, this said its about finding God witching yourself and that's when you are released from the cycle and achieve Moksha. We saw Indians doing some fire offerings and get blessed as well as a number of them going and touching the statue. It is said that if you touch it, all of your problems will disappear. This was probably my favorite experience of India so far. It was very spiritual and beautiful to watch from the outskirts. I certainly would not have appreciated it as much if I was watching or participating inside. I loved climbing and sitting amongst the bugs to watch. A couple people actually spotted us and we're surprised.
Cont. After the hour of heaven we wanted to walk to a temple called Shiv Mandir. It was about 22:10 when we were nearing it. We didn't really know if it would be worth it because it was late at night and all we knew was that it as a huge statue of Lord Shiva. Google Maps took us down a dark alleyway and said we were there. Our view was bad from there, we couldn't get in because of a giant concrete fence around it but what we saw was amazing. It was an enormous lit up stature spitting out water. We obviously wanted a better look so we tried to go around multiple ways but it was either blocked by brush, the fence, or loads of trash. We kept searching and saw a parking garage. There were a couple of rocks acting as stairs on to a bigger concrete slab. We noticed it and decided to climb. The seat had a perfect view inside of the temple. It was probably created by a low caste person so they could see the ceremonies or give a puja prayer to Shiva.
28 March, 2016 When I said Cody and I got a late start yesterday, we really got a late start today. We lounged around and tried leaving the apartment around 16:30 but ended up napping and leaving at 18:45. We went to the great local little juice shop and got four juices for about a dollar. We wanted massages so we caught an Uber and went to a small salon close-by. It was my first professional massage and may I say, it was legit heaven. I didn't have a woman touching me, that was the hands of God stretching and massaging me. I got a full body one-hour oil massage and I wish it never ended. My little Indian lady (who I thought was Thai but Cody explained that they came from the border of India and Thailand so technically she looks "Thai" even though she's Indian) was such a sweetheart and even though I could barely understand her, she did everything right. I wish massages weren't so expensive in the US, because I would get one every week.
March 29, 2016 01:41 Bangalore, India India is filled with both marvelous and appalling things but as a whole, the good outweighs the bad by so much. For every bad experience there is a greater and opposite good experience. Did I just use a form of Newton's law to describe a country? Physics. It's true though, you can't help but love this place.
Cont. It's so ideal. There's everything here. I feel at home and I have picked up on how to walk back to the apartment and everything. I love it. What's even better is that Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India. It's start-up and tech heaven. I just can't get over this city honestly.
Cont. It was really deep and I'm glad I watched it after being in India, if you don't have an open mind or personal experience, it could really give a horrid portrayal of the country. Of course it was Hollywood so there was a love story. The funny part was that since it was also trying to appeal to Indian audiences and Bollywood, it had a huge Indian dance number at the end with all the lead characters. I must be picking up on some Hindi cause I recognized some words. I also learned a new one, "Madarchod" meaning "motherfucker". Nice. It's so hard, since every Indian state speaks a different language and then Hindi is the national language, you have to learn so much. Bangalore is like a melting pot so you aren't sure if they understand. The doorboy for Cody's apartment speaks Assamese. Bangalore really does blow the other cities we've visited out of the water. There are still traditional Indians but there is so much western culture. It's [sort-of] cleaner and people are so kind.
Cont. Around 16:30 we got an Uber to UB Mall to meet up with some more friends. UB is a super rich Indian or westerner area. It's more than just a mall, there are outdoor restaurants on the terrace of it, apartment complexes (where Cody lived previously) and other things. Today there was actually a little arts and craft/food festival going on. We ate at Café Noir with Cody's close friend, Sasha and two others. It was a lot of fun and we had a fun time walking around, eating and drinking, and talking. I can't wait until I'm that age. Cody and I had an early night and got back around 20:30. We decided we'd watch Slumdog Millionaire together now that I have some insight on India. I personally really loved the movie. It showed some extremes of slums in India that were a lot to handle but it wasn't lying.
Cont. After, we started looking at shops where we could buy fabric. Cody and I were going to make our own clothes! We went to a couple places to find the right material that we both agreed on. We wanted to get the same cloth that he could make into a shirt and I could make into a dress. We searched at a couple of places and found this perfect pink material. We bought 6 meters for 900 rupees (translation: $13) which is actually pretty expensive. After some searching we found a tailor for me. It's crazy, everything is literally more expensive for women. I understand that I was making a dress instead of a shirt, but my tailoring was quadruple the price of Cody's. It will still be well worth it. We both got measured and our tailor sketched out what our visions were. We'll pick them up in 48 hours and then make some more once we figure this out. I am beyond excited, I will literally own a one of a kind item that I made myself. Plus I'll twin with my bro!
Cont. Overall we had some really great conversation and headed back to the apartment around midnight. I crashed and fell asleep in all of my clothes. 27 March, 2016 Cody and I got a late start. I had a misconception with Estelle at the apartment this morning. I didn't realize we kept filtered water in recycled wine or vodka (etc.) bottles. When she woke up she poured a huge glass of [what I thought] was vodka. I was so surprised but I didn't say anything cause I thought it was a French thing or something. We thankfully cleared that up later! Cody and I first got some breakfast at home from Danesh then went out to a street called Commercial Street. It's a huge area in Bangalore all for shopping. We stopped at a few stores and I bought some things I needed because I'm basically out of clothes. We ate at a cute place and got some juices and masala. For some reason I really dig the juice here. I think it's cause it's all fresh because I'm the statues I don't go out of my way for it.

28 March 2016

Photo post #3

27 March 2016

Cont. Cody is like a celebrity. He says hello ("namaskara" in the Karnataka) to all the locals and they now seek him out when we walk. I loved all the people and the area. Bangalore is literally perfect. We went back to his place and figured out our plans for the night. We decided on dinner with Cody's friend, Ashok. He is certainly one of Cody's best friends. He met up with us at our place at 20:00. We ventured out and tried to find a place to eat. The first place was a bust because the owner was an ass to Cody for pretty much no reason. But thanks to Ashok, we went to another place and got seated. He knows people. If it weren't for him we wouldn't have gotten a table, maybe not even let in. Seeing more of Bangalore then, I wished I was older so I could be apart of the night life. Our table was rooftop on the terrace and we probably had he best seat in the house. We are such good food and talked for hours. I was absolutely fascinated by Ashok.
March 27, 2016 20:05 Bangalore, India Journaling from the rest of yesterday to the end of today. While my mind is still on it, Happy Easter! We landed in Bangalore and I already knew I loved it. The airport is about an hours drive so we got an Uber and made our way to Cody's current place. The neighborhood where Cody lives has a decent number of expats but overall it's a really awesome Indian area. His place is so nice, he has a roommate named Nimish and a live-in cook (and everything else) guy named Danesh. I walked in and was welcomed by a number of Cody's friends. Listing them all would be a hassle but they're all very kind and intelligent. We unpack and left pretty quickly and went to grab some food from a little café Cody really likes. On the way we stopped at his favorite little juice shop on the side of the street. I got watermelon juice and I literally watched him pull a fresh one off the shelf and make it.

26 March 2016

Cont. I don't like running. I don't like running even more when I'm wearing sandals, a dress, and have a heavy backpack on my back. Somehow, we made it there by 11:15 and they hadn't even began to board. If the flight wasn't running just a little bit late, we would have missed it. We were so lucky. We're now up in the air, we have a 2 1/2 hour flight until we arrive in Bangalore!
March 26, 2016 13:26 Plane - Over India somewhere Cody and I got up around 09:00 this morning and checked out of our hostel to catch our flight to Bangalore. I'm most excited for this city. Not only does Cody live here, but he tells me it's a completely different world that I'll love even more. We almost missed our flight cause our Uber driver was probably the worst, ever. He came much later than it said. He didn't know where he was going even though Uber literally tells you. He stopped and asked for directions several times. He has no sense of urgency, every car passed us on the road. Cody had to sit in the front seat and tell him where to go in Hindi. We left with plenty of time but he got us there at 11:00. Our plane left at 11:30. The only reason we made our flight is because the airport staff let us skip all lines so we could literally sprint to our gate. It was gate 50, over a kilometer away. Cody was in the lead, urging me on the whole time.
Cont. We got back to the hostel and talked with some people. We both passed out pretty quickly though and slept really well.
Cont. He was so calm about it and by far our best driver yet. He spoke with us so easily and absolutely loved Cody, as all Indians do, because he can speak some words in Hindi. Just enough to communicate and gain their respect. We ended up giving him a 6 star review on Uber because he was so exceptional. We didn't find much clothing wise for me so we began to walk towards our hostel and found a street with plenty of shops along the way. I bought an Indian kurta/dress and pants. I loved buying from the locals. You knew it was truly Indian because the racks had set prices. For example, my kurta was 150 (translation: $2.25) rupees - Indian price. But if it had not been set, they may have tried to charge us 1,000. We headed back to the hostel and rested for a bit. Around 21:30 we went down the street to this awesome restaurant, filled with white people, for dinner. I feel bad when I'm in a new place and I don't feel like I'm living locally but dinner was truly great.
Cont. Honestly, they were just looking for a bribe to get in. Money is such a huge factor to each individual here. Cody and I decided it wasn't worth it but a scene kind of erupted around us. We left and found an Uber to take us to the India gate at a park. It was really cool but my favorite part was seeing all the Indian families just out with their kids playing cricket or couples finally getting out of their parent's houses. Cody and I denied all photos with exceptions for cute young women or aunties. From there we got an Uber to a large, westernized shopping mall to look for some more clothes for me. Due to Holi, I threw away a dress, leggings, pants, a shirt, and underwear. I also trashed some clothes from being sick as well. At the park, the Uber driver got a ticket from the police and went to speak with them to get rid of it. Unfortunately, since the police system is so corrupt, the driver ended up giving 500 rupees to them instead of getting a fine.
Cont. It was super local and the owners probably never saw white people in their lives. We headed back to the hostel yet again because I was sick. After a little bit of planning and changing our day, we went down to the huge market in Delhi. There's an area for everything. Some areas we went through were the spice market, shoe market, silk market, saree market, and many many more. Our bicycle rickshaw driver was actually awesome and basically gave us a full tour while navigating through the streets. He was only charging 30 rupees but we liked him so much we gifted him with 500. We were dropped off at a mosque for the Muslims that was meant to be free for prayer time. We tried to head in and the men waiting wanted to charge us 300 rupees for bring our GoPro in. We went back outside, took our shoes off, and tried going through the gate. We were stopped once again saying that Cody's shorts were too short and we both had tank tops on which were apparently deemed inappropriate.
March 25, 2016 23:59 Delhi, India Cody and I arrived at the train station after what seemed for forever. We did our best to get to the hostel as quickly as possible but that's not always easy. When we were making our way up the stairs an auntie grabbed Cody's arm for support and he ended up helping her all the way up the stairs. It was so cute. We haggled for a tuk tuk for a while and eventually got to the hostel. It was the same hostel we were at my first night in India except tonight we have a dormitory room. So Cody and I will be sharing with 6 other travelers. I honestly love staying in hostels even more than hotels. You meet all sorts of interesting young people who love to travel and share stories. The place overall is really great. By recommendation, Cody and I went out into the streets looking for a restaurant by the name of Welcome. We looked for a while but ended up somewhere else. We settled for there but didn't stay long.

25 March 2016

Random notes: India is also incredibly homophobic. But what's socially acceptable? Men holding hands in public because it's a sign of friendship. Seriously, you see it everywhere. I've got the Indian head nod down at a T. It's just something they do automatically in response to basically anything. They don't realize I do it just to imitate them. I wear a wedding ring a lot of time. Maybe doesn't do much but it makes me feel okay. Also! I saw my ideal Indian boy at the train station. Damn I wish I could flirt with him. He was Indian enough but also super westernized. He had perfect teeth and was wearing a Harvard baseball cap. Not sure if I melted cause of his face or the heat.
Cont. We have a two hour train ride and I have been feeling queasy the whole time. We planned some stuff in Delhi today but I think I need to be in a bathroom for a while. I haven't gone again on the train because, well, gross. We'll hopefully be arriving soon, right now it feels like it's been forever. We'll see how the rest of the day plays out.
March 25, 2016 11:00 Train - approx. Delhi, India Woke up at 09:00 this morning and headed to the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. It was mediocre. Not great, but it was supposed to be free. We went back to our room pretty quickly, packed our stuff and headed on our way. We tried checking out but the hotel lied, yet again, and now doesn't accept card as a form of payment. We were already rushing because we had a 10:20 train to catch. But we ran to an ATM and back to make out payment. We paid everything even though the hotel was not what it said it was. We also got charged for breakfast which wasn't supposed to happen. Either way, we had a train to catch so we caught a rickshaw and made our way. We got to the station with plenty of time but by then I hit the inevitable. I was feeling sick. Stomach sick. I'll leave it at that and hope you get the jist of it. I ran onto the train to go to the first bathroom, super gross but I think I'll leave out the details here.
Cont. He sent her an email and put in a good word for me which I really appreciated. He was a great guy and we stayed with him basically just sleeping until about 21:45. It was a really chill night which is what we needed. Very happy with everything. No matter what, celebrating Holi was amazing and I am very happy I got to experience it in full.
Cont. To put into perspective, we were sort of like aliens walking in on a Christmas mass. We didn't stay long because we were meeting Cody's buddy Calvin back at our hotel. We were so hungry we were about to keel over so we ordered a Domino's pizza to our room. We saw a place with headscarf and a bunch of aunties outside. We went there to buy one for my head to attract less attention. After we found an awesome rickshaw driver who took us to numerous ATMs until we found one that worked. We arrived back at the hotel pretty early and there was a huge group of Texas A&M college kids checking in. They're studying abroad in Qatar but are in India for the time being. We talked with them for a long while and they were some really cool and interesting people. Eventually our Domino's came and Calvin arrived. We just chilled some more and headed to our room. Calvin and I got to talking and he knows a woman involved with Girls Who Code.
Cont. As expected, everything that had happened to me had also happened to other women. It was really great talking with people though, both Indian and westerners. The monkeys were vicious so we had to keep watch for them the whole time. They try to grab sunglasses off of your head or anything that you're carrying. At one point we actually saw a monkey attack a white man from his back, probably for his sunglasses. After a couple of hours we walked to the temple to wait for it to open. We had to take our shoes off while we were waiting outside and because the ground was so dirty I had my legs on Cody's lap. I was scolded by an auntie for this because women are not allowed to do that. We made our way in once the temple opened and it was beautiful. Nothing was really happening inside but lots of people were giving their puja (prayer). We were sort of like aliens, everyone stared because we were in a holy place.
Cont. We were drenched and very colorful by the time we arrived at the temple. We had very little harassment which was nice but both Cody and I were weary. The only bad guy was one who tried to stop the rickshaw by pulling on it essentially stopping it. Our driver was old and had trouble pedaling in some areas so Cody would get out and run alongside and push it for a little boost. The temple was closed when we arrived and wasn't going to open for about 2 hours. We decided to go to the spot by the river where we were yesterday because it was a safe zone there. On the way we tried looking for a headscarf for me because then I would attract less attention. Apparently other foreigners found refuge at the river as well because there were several clusters of them scattered around. I did let my guard down for a young Indian girl who was just taken with me. I took a photo and gave her a long hug. We stayed lowkey at the river for about two hours, chatting with lots of different people.
March 25, 2016 00:20 Mathura, India Cody and I probably got moving around noon. At 12:20 we headed out, extra cautious. Right when we stepped out of our hotel, we saw two white women circled by men, except they were loving it. They were trashed with color but gave hugs to every Indian and yelled in the spirit of the holiday. Cody and I hid in the corners until we could safely run to the street to get a tuk tuk without being noticed. We were clean at this point so the second the first bit of powder hits our clothing, that's when it becomes war. We found an older guy to take us to a temple in a bicycle rickshaw. Unfortunately he went the wrong way and it took us a lot longer to arrive than planned. On the way, we were stopped by many Indians even though we told our drive not to stop. They hit us with powder, three water at the vehicle and grabbed at us. It sucked how on edge I was because I knew they were doing everything in good spirit.
March 24, 2016 11:34 Mathura, India Woke up today around 09:00 with a bloody nose because it's very dry. I've been writing the blogpost for yesterday since I've gotten up. Cody and I will make our way out of here eventually but right now it's a lot to face the crowds. Still shaken up from yesterday but it doesn't take away from the trip. Just makes me a lot more guarded. We can't eat except for the snacks we've brought along because every place is closed for Holi.

24 March 2016

March 24, 2016 21:32 Mathura, India For those of you who did not like my last post or got offended by it: I am not sorry. I gave a warning to my readers that it was going to be harsh. Maybe I came across too bad, but I still love India. Would I ever celebrate Holi again? No. Would I love to live in India for the rest of my life? Yes. Yes a scary thing happens to foreigner women, not only me, but I was warned before hand. Every single person, including Indian men themselves helped me. What they do is just an automatic response in their culture. You cannot blame them nor can you group all Indian men together. If you want to talk more about it then message me specifically, but absolutely do not think this was a bad part of my trip. I love it all and I wouldn't have seen real India if that didn't happen. It was much better today as a whole anyway. I apologize for my writing but I will not change it.
Cont. I tried showering to get the Holi colors off of me but I gave up. There was no warm water and it was a bucket shower, not an overhead shower. Cody and I chilled for a while and I began to write this blogpost. I got too tired and was asleep by 22:00. I was woken up by Cody at 0:00 so we could get all hands on deck to buy the Burning Man tickets that were about to go on sale. It was quite an eventful day. Overall, I still loved India and Holi. But I would never celebrate that event in particular ever again. It is too dangerous for women and I had enough. We are celebrating again tomorrow but not the same way now that we understand it a bit more. I will post some photos of Holi and Taj when I get them off Cody's phone.
Cont. We said goodbye and I thanked her heavily for all of her support, I really liked and appreciated her. Cody and I headed back our way, but our rickshaw driver didn't speak any English at all so we had to make several stops for a translator. At the last stop, he peered in the backseat for a better look at Cody's phone. His hang was on the seat, barely grazing my upper thigh. I didn't say a word, I mean, he can't be a bad guy because he had his 3 year old son in the front seat with him. But I didn't make eye contact with the man. I then could feel him look at me, then he moved his hand closer to my butt, trying to get a "closer look" at Cody's phone. I screamed and hit his arm. He got the message and stood outside of the vehicle more but still tried talking to Cody. I was infuriated, I couldn't trust a single person. We finally got to the hotel around 20:00 and I was so relieved. I had never felt safer, although it's still a sketchy place.
Cont. He put his hands in my mouth and got it all in my eyes. I know it was just in spirit of the holiday, but I turned around and punched him as hard as I fucking could. I threw my bottle bottle at him hard until it fell to the ground. I beat that man brutal until the three of us left again.  I hated feeling like a rude tourist who can't interact with natives. I had my guard on. Cute little boys want to say hello but I would just scream no and push them away. I wanted to smile and be friends but I was no longer nice to a single person. I was so enraged I actually wanted a man to touch me so I could get my fingers around his throat and see him suffer. My thoughts had turned morbid. Every man I saw stare at me and check me out I plotted another way to get him on the ground. I did not want to be touched. We got to a main road and after some time finally found a decent tuk tuk. It was very dark and men were drunk so we took Cara all the way to her hotel so she'd have company.
Cont. A man said yes but he was with a lot of other men so Cara and I got in the car immediately while Cody haggled with prices. We decided on one and other men tried hopping in the car and reaching to shake our hands. We kept saying no to the people and for them to get out. Tip: Never get in a rickshaw with two men in the front seat. They're probably plotting to kill you. We joke about this all the time, but hahaha... The men wouldn't get out so although the driver was cool and would take us and urged his friends to leave, they wouldn't. We got out of the vehicle and a man grabbed Cara's ass. She screamed and defended herself and the whole scenario upset me again. We kept on walking and past by a guy who wanted to throw more Holi colors at us. We firmly said no, we were done with this shit we didn't need any more caked on our face and we were already frustrated enough. The man decided to put it on my face anyway after I said no.
Cont. One man was walking next to me and swiped my butt. I calmed down at the river, but that set me off again. I almost feel guilty but I beat the hell out of his chest and hit him very hard with the water bottle. Cody had him at the collar of his shirt and yelled until I got a "sorry" mumbled out of him. I almost think it was an accident but now I was rude to everyone. But I was embarrassed. I felt violated. I felt dirty. I was crying again but lots of people saw that we flipped shit on this man and I'm sure the people understood why. For the rest of the walk, I was an object. I was not a person, I was a woman in countries like these. I walked with my eyes low to the ground, blindly following my brothers every step, I covered my body with my hands, I ignored all calls to me, and I avoided all eye contact. I wasn't touched for a while. We went done a narrow street looking for the main road or for a rickshaw. We saw a rickshaw and asked if there was someone that would take us.
Cont. I was now on edge for every movement. Every Indian man from there on out got yells and punched by me. I used my water bottle to beat them upside the head. I was violent and there was no turning me off. It's so subtle that Cody nor anyone else could ever see the things happening, but the second the swung around Cody was on the man. I am not a fucking object you can molest while you walk down the street.  The three of us gathered at a safe spot on the river. We knew it was okay to rest there because there were plenty of women and children. We stayed there for a long while, watching the malicious monkeys and watching the sky change. We walked around the area for a while and found a place higher up above the water where we wouldn't be bugged by vendors.  We left about 18:45 and tried to find our way to a main road where we could get a tuk tuk back to the hotel. We ended up venturing for a long while, deep inside small villages with no rickshaws around.
Cont. When we moved along, all of a sudden a person came up behind me, reached between my legs, and took a swipe at my vagina. I immediately turned around and began screaming telling them to fuck off and that they're a piece of shit giving their country a shitty name. Who was it? A 6 year old child. The child tore off sprinting the other direction because he knew it wasn't right, but it's what the other guys do right? Cody turned and chased after him, grabbing ahold of his wrist tightly and screaming. The child got the message, and I don't know if Cody told me this only for my personal reassurance, but apparently there were some Indians that were scolding him as well. By then I was bawling and my glasses couldn't cover it anymore. I broke down and bawled and Cara had to hold me in the middle of the street for a couple minutes. She told me that a few days ago a little child did the same thing to her. It's automatic for the men here to touch you in the wrong places.
Cont. WARNING: The rest of this post is going to be very vulgar and will expose a side of India that some people may not want to read about. Skip over this day until the end.  It was my second day in India, I had already gotten used to the stares from everyone, the asking for pictures, and the people trying to touch my body. During Holi, it was worse than ever. Men would gather and grab me mostly in the boobs. At one point when we were making our way down the parade route, men encircled me and Cara and one Indian man said, "you need to step out or it will get worse." Cody was doing everything in his power to protect us. I had a wedding ring on. Cara and I were on either side of him and he was holding us tightly in his arms. By that time of day, I figured I would only trust children and women. I had already began to yell and make a scene at men who would touch me.
Cont. Cody claimed we were from Mexico for the hell of it. For our own protection, when the man asked for Cara and I's name, Cody said that we were both his wives and we have no name. You can refer to us as wife 1 and wife 2. I was thankful I didn't have to shake yet another Indian man's hand, but I realized how independent I was at that moment. I was enraged, just furious that I was only a wife that was so insignificant and just an object that I didn't have a name. I got over it though because Cody only has my best interests at heart.  We got off and went to this restaurant where we probably stayed for close to two hours. We were so exhausted and didn't know if we could step into the chaos again anytime soon. The food there was good but much too hot for my liking. We left soon enough and ventured into the streets looking for the Holi parade.
Cont. There was one very very cute auntie out dancing by herself and having the time of her life. Cara and I joined her and she was so excited. The three of us walked to the main road, along the way stopping by a cow beautifully painted with Holi colors. He decided he wanted to eat my necklace, so there went my offering. Lots more men and scary surroundings. At one point Cara and I were cornered and men were closing in. Cody had to push them away and we all went to a fenced in hotel porch to hide and get away for a bit. We talked to another foreigner for a while who was traveling. He was a ball of fun. His hair was bright pink. I thought it was died but it was actually from the chemicals in the Holi colors that wouldn't come out. We left him after about 40 minutes and ventured back on to the street. We caught a tuk tuk with a bunch of Indians to get back to Mathura. There were 17 of us in a 6 person tuk tuk. An Indian man was very interested in Cody and asked a lot of questions.
Cont. He did his best at this point to keep us safe but the crowds were much too large for the three of us to take on.  We arrived at the temple and it has already closed but Cody, being the great negotiatior he is, pulled a card that appealed to the Indian man's emotion. He said, "We are from America and we traveled very far just to see this temple and Lord Krishna. Let us in please." Eventually the man obliged of course because there are no rules in India and "no" really doesn't mean no. We went inside the temple and it was a disaster from the festivities. The sides were covered in tarps and people were mopping the floors and garbage. We didn't stay long but the man who let us in was a very good host. He gave Cara and I flower necklaces (which might have been supposed to be used for an offering) and some traditional Holi snack. We left after we took some photos. We stepped outside and a lot of the men that were out there before were gone.
Cont. In addition, since Cara and I are women we got it much worse than Cody. It was a lot of fun but eventually so many people were trying get us at once we had powder down our shirts, in our eyes and sunglasses, and in every other bend or crack in our body. The closer we got to the temple, the wilder it got. Men were grabbing at me and Cara but at first it was so subtle I didn't know. They would have their hands on my face for powder then when "moving away" it would slightly brush down on my boob. They would grab my waist or butt to "get by" but the reality of the matter is that they went out of their way to even walk near us. At one point a man reached under me and grabbed my vagina and ass. I started crying here and that's when I started pushing the men a little harder. Cara and I were both facing the same situation and talking about it. We both held Cody's hand while we made our way to the temple.
Cont. Anyway, we arrived in the streets and before I was even out of the tuk tuk a man came and sprayed me with blue paint right on my ass. Seeing that my pants were white, it only attracted more eyes to my butt. The three of us were immediately surrounded my a large group of people all asking for photos and putting Holi colors all over us. It was very overwhelming but I was okay with it because a sweet auntie was very excited to see us and she kept hugging me and Cara specifically and kissing us. Men were gathering in large groups so we had to get moving in order to try and get to a Temple where a lot of Holi events were surrounding. It was the birthplace of Krishna. As we moved down the streets men got closer and encircled us. At that point it was fine but since we are foreigners, we were the main target of all the colors. The kids had water guns, and others had powder, some had some really intense stain, others just had their hoses.

23 March 2016

Photo post #2
23 March, 2016 21:40 Mathura, India I experienced India in the raw today. Today we celebrated Holi, the day before the main day tomorrow. I made it through the day with a tense body, my hand clenched around my weapon [water bottle] and tears behind dark shaded sun glasses. Cody and I slept in today until about 11:30. We planned on meeting his friend Cara at our hotel at 12:00. The three of us left en route to Vrindavan around 12:40. On our way, we saw rowdy people already covered from head to toe in colors in the spirit of Holi. Cara is a super sweet girl Cody recently met and we talked a lot on the way there. She told me that all the men I took photos with yesterday at the Taj are going to show them off and all claim they slept with me. Yes, I am just an American who decided that a random Indian man is lucky enough for me to take him right then and there are the Taj and then take a photo.
Photo post #1
Cont. They were terrifying. I had enough of sketchy men for the day so when they inched closer and stared at me and my [non-existent] boobs I tensed up. We hopped into several rickshaws but when the driver started lying we literally jumped out. We found a decent guy with one but then he let his buddy on in the front with him so we had to get out. It was a disaster. Eventually we arrived at our hotel. We paid the driver the price we agreed on and he got out of the rickshaw and demanded more. We just walked into our hotel. According to the photos online, it looked 5-star. It was not that at all. The man at the desk was nice but it was a mess and Cody and I were too tired for bullshit at this point. The whole ground level floor was literally in ruins and dust. Our room was not what we had ordered. The water doesn't work very well. The men are hard to communicate with. But, there is WIFI. So I'm content as of now. It's now 02:23 and Cody has been asleep for hours.
Cont. The food was delicious as usual. We made friends with the Indian host. We left around 20:30 to catch our train to Mathura. More harassing and following and yelling. The drivers were incredibly persistent and pushy. Probably after asking five rickshaws we were forced to pay 100 rupees in order to make our train on time. The actual cost should have been about 30 rupees but they lie. We got to the train stations on time and although our train was scheduled for 21:15 it came around 22:15. It was a nice train with a dinner served but we were unaware so we denied. We did get the free ice cream though. We arrived in Manthura about 23:00. The train station was filled with Indians on the filthy ground wrapped in blankets sleeping waiting for their train the next day. Once we stepped outside the drivers were worse than they had been so far. I was so afraid I had to hold on to Cody. About 15 of them encircled us and stepped closer and closer trying to understand our destination.
Cont. India is the most sexist and racist place ever. You are treated very differently if you are a foreigner. You are treated very differently if you are a woman, no matter what. Back to the rude rickshaw drivers. I firmly yelled "no" to him when he wouldn't stop following and pestering to us. He began laughing at me. Laughing. I was deeply insulted but Cody just said its because woman aren't authoritative at all. On another instance, after we took photos, men would shake Cody's hand. I would reach mine out as well and they would give me a weird look and gently grasp it. Apparently women don't give handshakes either. Screw that. When Cody and I finally figured out our plan we went to a mall in Agra for an interactive video type thing on India. The mall was essentially deserted except for a child bouncing up and down on a trampoline. We were harassed much much more but we ended up walking to a very fancy restaurant. We've been living pretty rich while we're here while is unusual.
Cont. There were lots of people there, who knew the police were yelling at us? Overall it was well-worth it at the Taj Mahal, even though the highlight was the people and not the Taj itself. Here's where I am with my Hindi vocabulary: Ha - Yes Nahin - No Holi Mubarak - Happy Holi We left the Taj a bit after 18:00 and tried going to the Red Fort. It wasn't worth it because it closed at 19:00 and the tickets were expensive. We sat around for a while figuring out a plan, there were some really terrible and dishonest rickshaw drivers. It was starting to get dark so I was getting nervous because of the men following us trying to make a sale. It's crazy how much they lie to you. They take you to the wrong place for a commission, they say one price then charge another. It's honestly horrible. I'm so glad Cody can deal with them and be stern with vendors. It's so hard for me but I have pretty solidly been rude which has worked.
Cont. Those aunties were sweet and not the stereotypical judgmental ones. By the end we were discussing where they were from and blowing kisses. They were all very giggly so I think Cody and I made their day. Or week. Or life. To be completely honest, the Taj wasn't all it's cracked up to be. It's actually very small, the smallest of all the world wonders. The police rushed us through the inside in about 2 minutes. It was a tiny little circle. Videography is prohibited once you got close to the Taj itself. It's beautiful and all and I'm very appreciative that I got to see it but it was just a building. I mean, do you know the history behind that? The king starved everyone just to build it as a gift to a woman. Nice, starve thousands to build a place. Very selfless of you. Cody and I leaped over the fence at one point and the police began to yell obviously at us but Cody said you just have to do what Indians do. Plausible deniability.
Cont. But there were a few men you grabbed my waist and wouldn't let go until I pulled away hard. A man asked me to hold his hand in a photo and I very harshly declined. I was often asked if Cody and I were dating and when we said we were siblings the men would slide just a little closer to me. They would move their hand down my back just a little more. They would swipe my butt in big crowds. I was conscious of it all. When I explained this to Cody we agreed that we tell strangers that we are dating if they ask or else things could very easily get out of hand. After Cody and I discussed this he saw an older man openly stare at my ass and Cody literally had to wave him away. There are very very kind people and very creepy ones. No matter what, the good outweighed the bad by far. One particular instance Cody and I came across a big group of aunties. (Remember me defining them from one of my earlier blogs?) We took photos with each and everyone one of them and they just adored us.
Cont. Immediately I was asked to get photos taken of me. The first man was shaking because he was so nervous. In India, I was basically a celebrity. This is going to come off cocky, but you can confirm it with Cody, I was the most photographed white person there. In such a tourist heavy area you'd assume that Indians have seen a large number of white people. Even so, people stopped Cody and I every few minutes for a photo. When Cody and I sat, a line would grow and people would throw their 6 month old child into my lap for a photo. Lines erupted, we were encircled by many, and phones were in our faces 24/7. I really enjoyed the attention at first but it got excessive. At the same point, I didn't want to be rude. I ended taking close to 200 or maybe more photos. That doesn't include all of the ones men did secretly. The photos only got out of hand when men got too close with me. Most were respectful and didn't touch me, some only touched my shoulder or upper-back.
Cont. When we got to the Taj Mahal we immediately got escorted to the front of the line and got to cut all of the Indians. We had three Indian men surrounding us after we bought our tickets trying to get us to pay them to be our personal tour guide. They followed us all the way in until we had to yell at them. The wildest thing to me was the prices. It's like reverse white-privilege. Indian privilege? They automatically pay 20 rupees per person to get in and and westerners automatically pay 750 rupees. While 750 rupees only translates into about $11.50 USD, that's a HUGE tourist percentage. We tried entering, there is a line for foreigners, men, and women. I went into the foreigners line with Cody but they police officers kicked me out and made me stay in the woman's line. It changed nothing but for a county that has a hard time enforcing rules, they definitely follow them. We entered the Taj and there were hundreds of people meandering their way around.

22 March 2016

The sign was a funny extreme on the train to Mathura. It says if you pull the emergency brake on the train then you either pay 1,000 rupees ($15 USD) or face a year in prison. $15 dollars or a year in India prison? Also, big thanks to my friends who deal wth my posting on here. I know you each had to make an account and I believe you get a notification everyone I post. I profusely apologize that they all come at once when I get wifi. Love and miss you all!
Cont. Some Taj photos. There will be more when I get the photos of Cody's phone. Forgot to mention before, when you enter the Taj you must either be barefoot or wear these white shoe covers because it is a sacred area.
22 March, 2016 22:46 Agra, India After we ate we wandered, a bit lost, around the village of Agra. It's a timeless place. You could see these little homes with tiny, decorative doors squished together everywhere. There were sweet goats and ferocious monkeys waiting for you all over. We were nearing the Taj Mahal when Cody and I saw a table with all the Holi powder colors (the main two days of the festival start tomorrow) and I went to take a photo by it. A group of kids noticed and we engaged in a conversation about Holi. It was basically just yelling "Happy Holi!" back and forth, but still. Then the vendor and kids came and put the colors on both me and Cody and we insisted on the kids getting in on the photo. Everyone was so excited and it attracted more attention to both me and Cody. Two westerners walking around with Holi bindis is very exciting, you know. The kids were very cute and ended up following us for a while. We stopped at a little café along the way to the Taj.
March 22, 2016 13:06 Agra, India We arrived in Agra! Cody and I were hanging out of the door and we were nearing the station and jumped off when it was still moving. It's quite funny to see all the Indian people do a double take when they see us. They love looking. I feel famous, only they're not exactly "adoring fans". When Cody was in the bathroom a cute, young girl came and tapped my waist and asked for a photo. Her dad took and it and thanked me a million times over. It was so cute. We were attacked by how many people wanted to take us to the Taj. We took a tuk-tuk as far as we could, but the driver tried to cheat us twice. Cody and I walked a bit and found some camel friends to hang with. We walked around Agra for a while finding a restaurant to eat at. We ended up at a great rooftop place with delicious food. We sat with some great people from Denmark who are traveling around. It's hot, our phones and GoPro are low on battery but I'm very excited for the rest of our day!
March 22, 2016 10:49 Train - approx. Mathura, India Turns out the chatty Indian man has family in Mathura and is visiting them for Holi. He gave us his card because he wants us to come and visit while we're in town. I decided to get something from a vendor who was yelling "chai coffee". We paid 10 rupees which is 15 cents in USD. Best chai I've ever had. Sorry coffee shops of Kenosha, you've not nothing on the authentic stuff.
Random notes: You see lots of stray dogs. It's sad, driving around in tuk-tuks we've probably almost hit 5. At the train station I saw a three-legged dog in the middle of the train tracks. He could move but it would be hard for him to jump out of the tracks. I see a lot of people "perching". If there is a tall stack of something, there is likely an Indian person sitting atop the pile. I don't know if it's to claim the objects as theirs or just to sit and watch from a high place. Indian people are beautiful. They are so beautiful. I have always thought they are some of the most beautiful people on earth. They may be staring at me because of the way I look, but I am staring at them because of the way they look. You see lots of bellies here. Big bellies, little bellies, old bellies, pregnant bellies.
March 22, 2016 09:13 Delhi, India We talked to an Indian man on train. He said some interesting things. This particularly stuck with me: "There is no divine connection between two people (i.e. soulmate). It is about finding and loving yourself and reaching a level of spirituality and freedom within your religion. India is helpful in that way." I am very much at peace on the train ride right now. We are passing through slums, through barren area, through farmland. Everything is its own beautiful sight.
Cont. I smile at everyone, which either makes them smile back or just stare at me more. Apparently I'm giving all the Indian men the wrong impression because I am going out of my way to look at them all right in the eye and smile. No, I don't want to sleep with you. I'm just polite. We also bought masala for breakfast. It was a delicious -bread type- food that had potato on the inside and then you dip it in something. Everything is so busy I feel like I've been up for hours but it's honestly only been about two. We're now on the train. Vendors just walk through almost chanting everything they're selling. Cody is really good at ignoring them or being aggressive when he needs to be. I make eye contact with the vendors and say "no" but they take that as "maybe" so they always stop and try with me. We have a very long train ride to Agra so I'll be reading The Alchemist by Panlo Coelho.
March 22, 2016 08:35 Delhi, India Cody and I woke up at 07:00 and left our hostle at 07:20. We took an Uber to the train station. The traffic was a bit more crazy. I loved seeing all the people out doing their morning thing. This may not exactly make sense, but the people are all so different. I understand that everyone is not the same person. But even though they're all Indian, they were so diverse and different. When we got to the train station they were checking security bags, but the guard just let Cody and I straight though. No questions asked. We were eating a small breakfast out of our bags at the train station when a man, who I assume is low on the caste system, came by us and stared. He just watched us eat and was fascinated. I smiled at him and he grinned. Cody told me that people normally don't smile at each other and it's even more significant when someone in a higher "caste" than you acknowledges you.
March 22, 2016 03:15 Delhi, India I'm now at the hostile with Cody. Hostiles are similar to hotels except they're less luxurious. A lot of young people stay here, during the day there are even organized events where you can meet others. I thought I was doing okay with accents but I couldn't understand what the man at the desk was saying at all. Cody told me it's because they speak "pigeon English" meaning it's slightly deformed English that Indians understand really well with eachother. But it's hard for expats to catch on to. On the way here I told Cody about how uncomfortable I felt when one woman in particular was staring at me at the Paris airport. Cody told me these women are nicknamed "aunties". They're old women known for judging you really terribly and just sitting around and gossiping. I feel better though because I'll never see her again and I didn't do anything wrong. Heading to sleep now, we have to be up in 3 hours to catch a three hour train ride to see the Taj Mahal.
March 22, 2016 01:07 Delhi, India Just landed. I was very anxious but the second I saw the illumination of the city lights I felt okay. It might be because I am beyond exhausted, but I started crying. India is going to change my life. The Delhi airport is extraordinarily nice. When you picture India you picture stepping into poverty, not stepping into the cleanest and most respectful airport so far. It was a little intimidating that guard had huge guns and were just watching. Had a hard time with my visa. The Indian man working was helpful though and kinda cheated the system I think. Oh well, I'm in the country now. I eventually found Cody at about 02:30. I walked out into the area he was in and there were probably 100 Indians just watching me trying to give me rides. Cody and I took a half hour cab ride to our hostle, where we are staying tonight. It's very late at night so not many cars were out but I could already see how chaotic the driving was.

21 March 2016

Update: Finally left the airport on the plane at 13:04. At this point in travel, I've decided I'm just a ghost looking down upon my tingling body. I still have an hour and a half before I arrive in Delhi. Still got very little sleep on this flight. I only have one man sitting close to me in our set of three chairs. I am actually grateful for him. I slept for an hour, when dinner was being served, and once I woke up he told a flight attendant to get me some. I wouldn't have done that and I certainly would have gone hungry. Now I feel bad eating his crackers when he was asleep... I got my first "taste" of Indian food on the plane and I almost vomited. It was all gag-worthy except for the curry and rice. I'm now skeptical even though airplane food is never to be trusted. Kindle still wasn't working. No good movie selection. No internet to do homework. Getting anxious.
March 21, 2016 10:58 Paris, France Flight got delayed two hours. I'm very drowsy because I haven't slept at all. I went over to a charging station so relax. What those people are sleeping on look comfy, but mine was a circle and a metal stool. Uncomfortable but I didn't care at that point. Got in line to board around 11:40. Talked to a guy who asked about me going to India. He was actually very surprised and asked me a lot about it. Turns out he's a huge Packer fan so we talked about that for a while. He asked to take a photo with me after. I can feel Indian people noticing me. There are very few other westerners on the flight, and I assume most of them are just flying to Delhi for a connection. My conversation with a flight attendant went as follows: "Bonjour" M: "Bonjour" "-something I didn't understand-" M: "Sí" "Ah. Candee, Sarah. American." M: "Merci beaucoup!"
Update: I am at my gate, finally. 40 minutes until boarding and I see one other white person. Charles de Gaulle airport is incredibly fancy. I feel like I'm poisoning every white tile I step on. Every chair is colorful and comfy. There are PS3 stations for entertainment. There is vegetation growing on the walls. I need to quit with my thoughts and start writing some creative pieces. I am now self-conscious that I look, and probably smell, worn out from 9 hours of travel. I will be a mess when I arrive in Delhi. Very sad that I have Internet connection now and all of my friends are asleep. Still pulling off all of these false accents. I just keep mumbling words to myself with emphasis on different letters. Several people have tried conversing in other languages. They all either think I'm fluent in everything or a bit odd in the head.
March 21, 2016 08:38 Paris, France Just touched down in France. I can't seem to navigate my way around this airport. I did something wrong and now I am going through security again. Not sure what is happening but I have less than an hour before I need to catch my connecting flight. I wish I had a window seat on the plane because coming into Paris was beautiful. It was just vast green rolling scenery and beautiful little clusters of towns. I wish I could stay here for a day. On the bright side, I am speaking in any accent I can think of just for fun. Right now I'm "Sarah the foreigner from ____." The only downside of that is if I play it off too well they will try to speak to me and then all is lost. "Candee" is a French last name as far as I am aware so I feel like I am with my people. They are all speaking to me and I'm just nodding. Me and this woman had a decently long conversation about hand dryers in the bathroom and I don't think she suspected I didn't understand.

20 March 2016

March 20, 2016 21:37 Plane - Over the ocean About 4 hours into my flight to Paris. I am sitting next to a very dark guy who likes to keep to himself. No one friendly by me. I have couple that is all over each other in front of me, which makes me feel quite uncomfortable most of the time. I can't sleep. I have "wifi" but it isn't working. My kindle doesn't want to cooperate. By now I'm two movies in. Currently a very happy girl though because my favorite soundtrack (HAMILTON!) is available on the flight. I'll just listen to it twice and hopefully not sing. By the time it's gone through twice I will have arrived in Paris. Also, I am thankful for all my friends and family that support this trip. I haven't updated in a while but at least 15 of you are reading my pointless thoughts right now. Love you all!
20 March, 2016 14:46 Chicago, IL Currently at my gate to Paris. Feeling unusually anxious about the trip and I'm not sure why. I have flown solo internationally before. Flight attendants gave me major props for only bringing my backpack as a carry on and nothing else. Quite frankly, I don't know how I did it either. My trusty ol' Jansport makes its way around the world, that's for sure. Hearing lots of languages. I am sitting between French people and Spanish people. My ears are going crazy. Very entertained by a young French girl, probably age 7, who is doing handsprings and cartwheels to get out her energy. She is making everyone smile. I appreciate that.
20 March, 2016 02:33 Kenosha, WI Today is the day! My brother, Cody Candee, will be hosting me in India for two weeks during my spring break. We planned this trip not too long ago, but with the help of my family (and some travel bloggers cc: hippie-in we pulled it off. I plan on keeping this travel journal updated as much as I can, observing the little details that are often overlooked. There are always things in a new country that come off as a shock, but quickly become the norm after just a couple of days. My flight heads out at a promptly 17:59 and I have an 8 1/2 hour flight to Paris, France for a layover. I'll then be flying another 8 1/2 hours into New Delhi, India to meet my brother. Approximately 20 hours of travel. It's certainly a good thing I find peace in traveling solo.