I call this "Day 2 (kinda)" b/c really I'm on the same day here as my earlier post, it's just later. But if I were in LA still, it'd be a different day. See the problem?
Anyway, today was fun. Basically if you're a Westerner random guys want to take your picture. Dre and I were swarmed at one point by like 20 boys? men? asking for our photos. (I'd say I was flattered but if you saw our photographers you'd understand.) (Sorry. I know that's rude.) I posed for a few photos and afterward all I could think is that my head is out there on the internet somewhere w/ some naked girl's body photoshopped in. She better be hot.
Hyderabad is definitely not a tourist town. It's kinda industrial. Our hotel is a haven, out west of town. If you stayed in this hotel for your entire visit to India, you'd probably think that India is chock full of lollipops and puppy dogs. It's the kind of place that would make you feel guilty for being privileged. Not that I'm so privileged, but since I'm also not destitute and this IS India, I am aware of my fortune.
It's impossible to plan a trip to this country without hearing about the utter chaos that is the driving system. Somehow, motorists, cyclists, livestock, and even dudes in their bare feet are able to navigate the roads with frenzied aplomb. It's not uncommon to see families of eight piled into compact cars or four people hanging off of one scooter. Also, red lights are completely optional. I get where circus planners draw inspiration. This afternoon we embarked on a journey to see some really tall statue of Buddha. During the drive I nearly fell sick three times. When we finally arrived at the lake, we had all lost our appetite for standing in line or getting on a boat. We got back in our cars and went to the city bazaar.
Right away a boy of (purportedly) eight, Mohammed, befriended me and kept us all from harm's way by pulling us back when we were in danger of being hit by a car. (Mostly me since I am sorta oblivious to traffic.) Anyway, this bazaar held an arbitrary mix: I expected to see shoes being hocked, but amongst the shoes were also random masses of wares being sold in heaps: teacups, bras, fake flowers, wheelbarrows full of those strawberry cookie wafers. Which begs the question: who's buying this stuff?
"Honey, I'll be back soon. I gotta go to the market to get some fake flowers."
"Great, sweetie. Can you pick me up a pile of bras while you're there?"
In the center of the bazaar there's a sixteenth century mosque called The Charminar. It's great. If you're Indian, you pay 5 rupees. Everyone else pays 100. I tried to argue the difference out of principle, but in the end everyone was like, "Vanessa it's $2. Let's pay it." Okay, fine. Climbing Charminar is slightly less harrowing than climbing Il Duomo in Florence. Plus it smells like urine. I don't understand why you'd pee where you're praying, but maybe urinating is a sacred offering. (I know, my Anusara friends -- everything's divine.) After reaching the top and walking around for about three minutes, we descended. Get in, get out. We ARE Americans, after all.
From The Charminar we thought we'd shop the vendors a little. Walking around the streets is oddly exhausting. Maybe it's because of the amount of people and the noise, but by the time we got back to our drivers (yes! you get drivers here!), we all needed a nap. And food. Food first.
Our hotel had recommended a restaurant which turned out to be in a mall. Hyderabad, outside of the bazaar and the mosques, is Western in a Mexico-kinda way. In fact, that's what it totally reminds me of. Nestled amongst the shanties are also megastores and rental car companies and Departments of Clean Water. We got to the mall but the restaurant didn't open till 7:30. It was only 4. I'm not gonna lie. We eyed McDonald's. An English pub next door opened at 4:30, so we split up and shopped for 30 minutes.
When we met back up we shared samosas and french fries, drank WAY too much King Fisher, and tried to guess the names of the 80's bands playing during the endless stream of classic rock. I longed for something more cultural, but in a way, this gastropub's Westernized simulacra was a perfect cultural expression. It's no different than the kids in the mall wearing their painted flared jeans and Reeboks. This IS the evolution of their society. Is it any different than the Asian-inspired design that permeates the past decade of American architecture? I guess what I'm asking is, is cross-pollination such a bad thing? (I'll leave that boring gem up to someone else to debate.)
And now, here I am in my room. I just bought a book which I'm super psyched about called Indian Myths and Legends. Wait 'til I bust out some mad allegory on my yoga classes. It'll be great.
Btw, fried food sits like lead in the stomach. I totally want to go work out. But it'll have to wait since the time difference just hit me. Nighty night.