India Trip 2015: Day 4

Today I woke up and ate some cereal. After writing some blog posts, I got kind of bored of seeing buildings and roads, so I decided to go with my friend to a city named Lolavala. This natural city is between Pune and Mumbai. Basically the reason why this place is so green is because of the humidity and rain. As of right now, the humidity is 99%.

Wada Pav

The drive from Mumbai was around an hour and we stopped in the middle to eat some street food. The food was called “wada pav”, which is vegetarian fast food dish made from fried potato in a bread bun. It originated as cheap street food in Mumbai, but is now offered in restaurants throughout India. You can eat this food like a falafel, where you put the fried potato in the bread. This was super spicy (for me) and on top of that, they were offering chilis if it wasn’t spicy enough. The food was probably not very healthy, but it was some really good junk food.

Red Soil

After burning my tongue, we drove a little more and finally arrived at our destination. Oh and I forgot to mention, it was raining the whole way there. When we got out the car, we could see green nature all around us. The soil had a reddish color that developed in the warm, temperate, moist climate.

In front of us there was a lake and above us, gray clouds. This city was very different from the places that I have been previously in India because it was actually peaceful. No honking, no trash, no pollution, no poverty… The air was clean and it was a great place to relax for a few hours. Here are a few pictures that I took.

Lolavala Pictures

Take Back:   Today was a relaxing day more than a tourism day. Tomorrow will be a busy day because I am going to the city.

Lesson of the Day: Explore more food and cuisines.

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India Trip 2015: Day 3

I am really sorry I have not been able to post these daily experiences. It turns out I have reached my data limit. I have been writing my experiences offline so everything will be back to normal by tomorrow. If you haven’t read Day 2, click here.

A picture of the lunch that I ate at my friend’s house.

The Experience: This time I depended on my alarm to wake me up… that’s a good sign meaning I am almost done with jet lag. After I woke up, I had a shower  and got ready for Day 3. I left around 11:00 to have lunch with my friend at his house. The food was very tasty and unique. I was eating out of a big plate called a “thali”, where there is roti and/or rice in the middle, and many small dishes on surrounding. The idea behind the thali is to eat the roti or rice with all of the different small dishes and offer all the 6 different flavors of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate.

A picture of the monsoon.

After lunch, we were going crazy with the heat. It was about 40ºC  (about 105ºF). The craziest thing was that it was raining super hard. The weather forecast has been saying that there were thunderstorms everyday, but I haven’t really seen a lot of rain. Luckily they were only giant passing showers. A few weeks before I came to India, there were monsoons and floods. Now you see why I was skeptical about coming to India?

A picture of a building after a few years.

Another thing that I have noticed while exploring India is that almost all buildings look dirty and old. And it isn’t really their fault. When it rains that much, there are obviously going to be side effects. If a new building is constructed, it will have a blackish color in a few years. That is why the buildings have to be painted so often.

There are big differences in the way parts of the city looks like. For example, in most of the suburban areas it is more dirty and unorganized. This is where auto-rickshaws are mostly operated. In the city, it is much more organized. There are lanes, more rules, and tolls. This is where you will only see cars, buses, and motorcycles (no auto-rickshaws allowed).

Take Back: The environment and location is so different than what I am used to in California. After a while, you step back and realize how many changes have occurred from your daily lifestyle in such a short amount of time. I think that I am beginning to get used to everything, and I am almost done with my jet lag.

Lesson of the Day: Bring rain gear everywhere and wear short clothes.

India Trip 2015: Day 2

Sorry I could not get this posted on time… I had a lot of wifi problems. If you haven’t read Day 1, click here.

The Experience: Fighting jet lag can be super frustrating sometimes. I feel like falling asleep in the day and I am wide awake at night (that’s how I am writing these blog posts 😃). Anyways… I woke up early today, ate a giant breakfast, and got ready for Day 2. I tried to get some work done, and I found out that my wifi really sucks because I have this “dongle” that barely creates a hotspot with a speed of 2G.

An auto-rickshaw

There are really three options to go from place to place. The first option is to take an Uber, which can get expensive quickly. Second is to take a taxi, and third is to take an auto-rickshaw. The “auto-rickshaw” is a small, three-wheeled motorized vehicle that works basically like a taxi. It’s actually really helpful but it pollutes like crazy.

Street shop selling coconuts.

Around almost every internal street, there are small stores that sell clothes or “street food” like chips, soft drinks, or fruits. So I decided I would buy a coconut and share the experience. To buy a coconut, all you do is tell the shop owner you want a coconut. Then, he takes the coconut of your choice,  cuts it open, and gives it to you with a straw. The coconut water tastes refreshing and is very healthy. After you finish all the coconut water, you give the coconut back to the shop owner, he will cut it more open, and give you a part of the shell to scoop out the jello-like fruit inside the coconut.

The Alphonso mango.

Another very famous fruit in India is the mango. There are over 400 types of mango in India and the “king” is the alphonso mango. Unfortunately, the alphonso mango is only available around March-April because of the monsoon season (June-August). Luckily, I managed to get one alphonso mango and I could immediately understand why this mango is so famous. The inside has an orangish color and the taste is extremely sweet. So far I have tasted the Totapuri, Neelam, Dasheri, Langra, Chaunsa, and Alphanso mangoes.

For dinner, I went to this place called Hometown Cafe – China Gate. The cuisine was and Indian and Chinese food mix that gave the food a awesome spicy flavor. I think the service was too good (I mean almost in a negative way too). Literally there was a person standing next to me whose only job was to serve me food.

Take back: Something negative that I have noticed about this place is that there are a lot of servants. This creates the concept that there are levels in society and that people are “ranked” higher or lower than each other. At the bottom of the social system there are beggars and servants. Then there is the middle and upper class that are basically normal people. Does there really need to be someone that brings you water and the TV remote across the room? I think this is not good at all but occurred because of the extremely high population.

Lesson of the Day: Let the driver do the driving and don’t focus on the road (I actually got a headache 😂).

India Trip 2015: Day 1

My flight Turkish Airlines (Boeing 777-300) landing in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Experience: The flight was confusing. Two red-eye flights to India back-to-back. I didn’t know if I should’ve been watching more movies or sleeping to fight the jet lag. My first flight was from San Francisco to Istanbul and the second from Istanbul to Mumbai. Turkish Airlines is pretty good. Their food was not bad and they had a ton of great movies. But when I arrived in India it felt like I had just walked into a sauna. The weather is very different. The air is very humid, warm, and there is a high chance of a monsoon.

I was actually very impressed with the airport. Everything was modern and the bathrooms were impressive and clean. Driving from the airport was crazy… First of all the driver sits on the right. Everything is opposite from the US. You would drive on the left side of the road instead of the right. But the craziest part is that I am not sure if most people are not following laws or that there are not enough laws. You don’t need to wear your seatbelt if you are not driving. There are no “lanes”. Pedestrians can walk anywhere on the street. What’s  really funny is that it is actually very impressive. The presence of mind that a driver needs to have on the road is 10x more than a driver in the US. In spite of the freedom on the streets, there are not a lot of accidents on the road. Almost every road is super loud and obnoxious with honking.

Take-back: Aside from the poverty, trash, and pollution, everyone here has an awesome lifestyle. There are some interesting qualities that we need to learn from these people. Something that I began to appreciate is the freedom that everyone has. For example, the friends that kids make playing on the street. Everyone “knows” each other and are easily socially accepted. There are many people here that don’t have as many luxuries and things as some people in the US but they are way more happy.

Lesson of the Day: Look at Indian people’s lifestyles from a different perspective.