Friday, October 12, 2012

Formidable rack not allowed.

Last weekend, we went back to Noida to visit yet another of Eli's work friends and his wife.  They wanted to have a meal and take us to a temple.  It took us the usual 2 hours to get there, and when we arrived, I was a little surprised at their place.  They live in a two room apartment that was the size of my living room back home.  One room was the bathroom.  The living room/bedroom/kitchen included a big bed, a fridge, a couch, two chairs, and a big coffee table which they obviously used for meals.  The bathroom was an "Indian-style" toilet, meaning a porcelain hole in the floor with flushing capabilities.  Now, I've used these types of toilets before in Japan, but there was always either plenty of room for squatting or some kind of hand rail.  Neither of these things was present; there was also no toilet paper (on purpose).  There was no AC, and all the apartments surrounding that one housed his family as well.  Which was a good thing because there was no way I could use his toilet.  It's not a matter of sensibilities; it's a matter of I can't squat and pee at the same time without some kind of support.  Ask anyone I've ever gone camping or on a long car ride with.  Eli's friend was super proud of it because 1) he owned it and 2) he had some rooftop space where they can build extra rooms...apparently.  After about 10 minutes, I felt like a total snob.  This guy does the same job as Eli (though to be fair, he's done it for a much shorter amount of time and he has less responsibilities).  It seems really wrong that we get to live in a posh apartment in one of the most expensive suburbs of Delhi and he makes a 2 hour commute every day from what would be an efficiency apartment in America.  It's a matter of expectations I guess.  The company is paying so that we don't have to lose our standard of living despite being in another country.  The other guy is apparently an example of that standard here.

Enough depressing talk, just so you know, it's very disconcerting when you use the toilet then discover that there is no toilet the whole apartment.  I had to use his sister's apartment for her Western style toilet, but silly me, I forgot to bring my emergency toilet paper stash with me across the hall.  Eli had to bring it over after some embarrassing translation.  So...that was fun.

After we had a late lunch, we left to go see the temple.  I was expecting a building roughly the size of a church that would have some interesting statues and worshippy bits lying around.  Mostly I expected to be bored after the first five minutes.  I was wrong yet again (that's what I get for having expectations).  This temple was like the original size of Disneyland (not as big as you think for all you non-Californians out there, but still a hefty piece of land).  Every piece of architecture was sculpted into some kind of design.  We couldn't take any pictures because, well, nothing was allowed inside.  No purses or electronic bits of any kind.  No leather.  No food or drinks except apparently water.  No clothes above the knee.  You get the picture. It took us about 30 minutes of standing in a sweltering line, ass to armpit with a lot of other people.  Every little bit (I have no idea what the trigger was), the guards would raise the rope, and people would start running past them.  After another little bit, one of the guards would ring a bell and they'd lower the rope.  It was chaos because Indian people don't really stand in lines; they stand in blobs.  It's every person for themselves when it comes to moving forward.  Once we were past the first check point, we had to separate into male and female lines.  The male line wrapped around the building (we're still outside in the heat), but the female line was much shorter, maybe 20 feet.  Again, I have no idea why since it seemed like there were a lot of families there, families that included males and females alike.  Once we got to the front of the line, we had to walk through a metal detector (par for the course for just about every building in India) then get a pat down by a female guard.  I got an older lady who started asking me questions in Hindi.  She didn't seem to care when I didn't answer.  She did seem to care about the top I was wearing.  I'd chosen a top that has a deep V neckline in the front and back, but I'd paired it with a lacy sport bra that looked like a camisole (no one had to know it didn't go below the boob line, it's not like you could tell from the shirt).  I want to be clear here.  I wasn't showing any outright cleavage; it showed as much as a normal scoop neck t-shirt.  The lady tugged on the bra and immediately realized it wasn't a cami after all.  Also, it's a sport bra, so it didn't really move.  It's job was to stay put, and it was doing it's job well.  She started speaking loudly in Hindi and tugging more on the bra.  I caught the word underwear, and by this point, all the people waiting for the guys directly in front of me were watching the show.  I had my hands out away from my body because she was supposed to just be patting me down, and I wasn't sure what the proper position was for "semi-molestation."  After a minute or so of useless tugging, she pushed the edges of my top down so she could get at the straps of my bra.  She stretched one up so that my bra was digging into my armpit and tied it in place, then did the same thing with the other side.  I was then allowed to pass through into the temple proper (which was still outside).  Let me tell you, having your sports bra shoved as far as it can go into your armpits and secured there will eventually start to cut off circulation in your arms.  We had to wait for the guys to make it through the huge line, so I was stuck that way for 15 minutes or so, waiting outside, before we could walk away and I could untie my now considerably less elastic straps.  I had asked before we left our apartment if there were any dress code rules I needed to follow.  Eli was told that I could wear whatever I wanted.  Clearly, not the case.

We walked around the temple for a while (it really was like an Indian version of Disneyland, except with gods instead of cartoon rodents), saw a light up fountain show, walked around some more.  Most of the place was outdoor, but the actual temple was a building with doors and everything.  We had to take our shoes off before we could enter and I was sure of two things.  1) I was never going to see my sandals again, and 2) the floor was going to give me typhoid.  To my joy, the floor was this really clean white marble, despite the wall to wall group of tourists and worshipers shuffling around each other.  No one in India has any concept of personal space.  Also, there was still no AC.  I was fanning myself and sweating and trying desperately not to breathe through my nose.  I eventually had to just rush the exit and wait outside for the others.  My sandals were there and intact.  By this time night had fallen, so we decided to check out the food area in the hopes of getting me some kulfi (Indian ice cream on a stick that's denser and creamier than our ice cream).  I'd had some at one of the restaurants we'd been to (Pirates of Grill, if you recall), and I wanted more.  We found the kulfi, but we didn't know what flavor I'd had before.  Eli got me malai flavored because it most closely resembled the other one.  It was not the same.  Remember in Mexico, when I had that "raspberry cheesecake" ice cream that turned out to be raspberry cheese ice cream?  Yeah?  It was kind of like that.  Malai is essentially butter flavored.  Not just flavored from what I understand it.  The kulfi is made with malai, which is mostly just butter.  So, yum, frozen butter custard.  (To no one's surprise, I got sick a day and a half later).

I'm going to end this post with the best part of the trip, which was that we got to see a monkey during the drive there.  It was eating an apple on our car while we waited in traffic. I'll also throw in some cute pics of Dante because I can.

Monkey with an apple.

He loves playing under (inside?) the coffee table.

Slides are fun.

He squealed the whole time he was swinging.

Like every other kid everywhere, he tried to climb back up the slide.

Walking around by himself (with help).


MSavell said...

Dinner in a household where there's no toilet paper makes me very suspicious. I have a hard enough time trusting buffet restaurants.

Elijah Hall said...

Nicole ended up having "Dehli Belly" about 24 hours after dinner in Noida. We suspect the care taken by them was insufficient for our delicate foreign immune systems.

But the food and hospitality was outstanding!