Saturday, October 27, 2007

In answer to the questions that have not been flooding in, i can say the trip is close to planned.

I leave dulles at 530pm on thursday november 1, and land in New Delhi at 1-something am on the 3rd, after stopping in Munich (2hrs at the lufthansa international first lounge will do much to revive me) and Frankfurt (5 hrs rejuvenation there). Did you know that munich was voted best airport in europe for the past three years? And that it is the fourth best airport in the world? I didn't either, but that's what they say at skytrax.
Unfortunately, the voting public doesn't think as highly of Del.

we fly into New Delhi, arriving about 90 minutes apart...give or take, considering we'll be on indian time.
My sister arrives first (1145p), and will be met by a driver, and then it's off to a hotel near the airport. I arrive at 115, will be met by the same person, and deposited at the same hotel. We'll be sharing a room most nights, but i told the agent (yes, i've had to use a travel agent) not that night.
Sometime before noon the next day, or at noon, it's off to Agra to see the taj mahal, the forts, the other tombs, and such. The next evening, we take the high speed train back to new delhi. Call me crazy, but there is no way I was going to visit India and not get on a train. We won't get the "whole experience," of course, we're not going to be on a slow, overcrowded, overheated train of the kind you've seen in movies....but i'll still be able to say I was on india rail.

We're in new delhi through the 7th, and then off mid -morning on the 8th (no choice in this ---we couldn't leave on the 7th after the meeting ends because the only flight left at 1030 am!) to Khajuraho, another unesco world heritage site (just like agra).Khajuraho is home to the love temples, 85 temples built between 950 and 1050 dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Jain patriarchs. (you'll notice that i'm trying not to offend the gods, and am remembering to capitalize their names, even if i can't be bothered with place names and the like!) Since I haven't been there yet, I can't speak about it with any authority. But, the state tourism board can: go here for more info.

Around noon the next day, we fly to Varanasi.NKK's trip ends on the 12th, so she doesn't have a lot of time to play tourist. When we started planning this jaunt, I asked what she really, really, really, REALLY wanted to see in India, and it was Varanasi, a city that's been an important religious and cultural center for thousands of years. Actually, it's one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. That, and a couple of other vague facts ( Varanasi is a city on the Ganges, and it is where the funeral pyres are set off. And that thousands of Hindi and Buddhist pilgrims flock there each year. ) sums up my pre-visit knowledge of Varanasi.

We stay in Varanasi 2 nights, and back to New Delhi and home for NKK, and on to Kathmandu for me.
I'll arrive late afternoon on the 11th, stay in central Kathmandu for the next two nights, and then go off to the royal chitwan national park, where i break the bank and stay at a lodge that "practices environmentally responsible and sustainable conservation tourism."

For years, I'd been saving my hilton hotel points, trying to get to the magic number of 180000, or 200000, or whatever it used to cost for the two person african safari. It was a great deal, a weeklong trip for two, all inclusive. And then, when i was only about 20k points short (less than it sounds, because i could have bought them for a couple hundred bucks), they discontinued the reward. With very little notice---by that, I mean that they left a very small window between the day they announced they were killing the award, and the last possible day you could reserve and actually go.
So, that was the last serious thought I'd given to any kind of safari. Until I started reading about Nepal, where a few of these still exist.

(that's one of my own photos, btw. I took it at a zoo in Australia a few years ago)

Then, back to Kathmandu for another day, before heading off to one last night in New Delhi, before getting on a plane at the relatively civilized hour of 10am. That's because I'm not able to take the more direct del-fra-iad option, I'm going back the way I came....except that I've now got a 20 hr layover in Fra. Which is pretty cool, because I may get a chance to visit with the meandering one.

And that's it.

why yes, I am up a bit later. Took my first anti-malarial tablet this evening, and am torn between wanting to quickly get to sleep and find out if i'm one of those who users plagued by nightmares and wild dreams....and, well, not wanting to find out.

I didn't really have an alternative drug choice due to allergies....the doc i spoke with has taken this one several times, and he urged me to take it NOT right before bed, that the patients he's seen who've reported the nastiest side effects all took it soon before retiring. I guess it's better to hallucinate while you're awake.....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Start cooking those noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink."

I grew up in a house with a copy of Peg Bracken's "The I Hate To Cook Book." I remember reading it and hoping that my mother was laughing when she did the same, not taking notes.

Peg Bracken died recently at the age of 89. There's a great obit in the NYT....I wasn't shocked to learn that she'd worked as an advertising copywriter....she just had that golden age of Madison Ave sound about her.

Of course, the Times obit writer is no slouch, either. "
Peg Bracken, an advertising copywriter who nearly half a century ago parlayed her irreverent wit β€” and her passionate dislike of a traditional womanly duty β€” into a subversive best seller, β€œThe I Hate to Cook Book,” died on Saturday at her home in Portland, Ore."

Go here for more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

oh, jeez....i'm still here. Apologies. Had a week in Nashville that was too much work. And now I'm swamped..trying to get two weeks of work done in advance so I can go to India.

BTW, I think I'm going to Katmandu. (insert bob seger here.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

i am back from nashville, a very long and exhausting trip. averaged about 4 hrs sleep, and was really wiped out by the end of the week.

thanks to mony for keeping me somewhat sane! We ended the week with a wonderful dinner out, just the girls ---mony, jean and me.

now...i'm back, fully immersed and i must start planning india.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

it appears that i will be going to india november 4 through 17 or 19. Based in delhi for the first part of the trip, anywhere after that with a return from delhi.

Any thoughts on where to go in the 7 free days I have? You don't have to tell me about agra or varanasi, as they're already taken care of.