I've been on organized tours in Amsterdam, New York, London, and Paris. Compared to today one word comes to mind- mothergrabbinboring. We started our day by checking in with Soni at Soni Motors. They sent a boy to bring us right from our hotel to the shop. Turns out it was roughly 350m from our door. Funny how they have so many people that there truly is a person for every job. Open your room door and you hear, "Good morning, sir. You like breakfast?" One person is assigned to every hallway and is immediately relieved when he gets a mission.
Soni had all his ducks in a row so we hired an air-conditioned van to take us around the city. First stop, temple, check. Off with the shoes, leave your water bottle, iphone(Phil), and camera at the door. No shorts, sir.
I liked the contrast between the temple and all the cathederals I've visited. Bright colors and open, active prayer. The masonry was incredible, tight and beautiful. I missed a turn and spotted a group adding a sidewalk for a rear entrance.
Two young men smashed old bricks into inch or so rounds to form a base. Another man spread sand while a man, clearly the master mason spread grout in already placed stones. When he finished he signaled to a man that yelled to the back and a young man brought another 3 foot square stone(I know from experience that it was about 75 lbs.) perched on top of his head. Two others took it off his head and placed it under the master's direction. Each person did one thing and one thing only. It's understandable when you realize that this hamlet has 17 million people and it was 33 degrees celcius(double it and add 30, kids.)
After the temple we had lunch in a pretty nice place. We decided to have Indian food and these people do it pretty well. Watched a man make a cobra dance after lunch, then it was off to a State-run emporium. It's good to hit these first because there is no haggling, the staff is knowledgeable, and the atmosphere relaxed.
They sat us down and tried to sell us Kashmir rugs. Poor bastards had no idea that all we could think about was what our dogs would do to those beautiful pieces of art. Upstairs to the fabrics and all that visual noise, amazing what skilled people will do for 70 or so dollars a year.
We headed back to the van and our driver said, "Bomb go 3:30, we go now." We spent the next hour and a half or so trying to get out of the Muslim district. Police had roadblocks set up and search a vehicle or two but their main response seemed to be to create the traffic jam from hell so people would be too frustrated to blow things up in the future.
We are chilling in our rooms for the evening and waiting for the Brits and the Canuck to show.
The search for a bookstore, strike 2
1 day ago