Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blog from a tourist in India

This is from a friend who is working in New Delhi for a few weeks. This is from his viewpoint.


This city is really 4 cities across a border of 2 'states' (sort of like Kansas city) - New Delhi, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, which together compromise something called NRC - for National Region of something or other - with 25 - 30 million people in the entire 'city' - it is truly an ocean of flesh, cement, various vehicles mixed with cows and camels, and much squalor, that goes on and on and on - about 200 kilometers wide. More than 40% are considered 'poor' - this means no house , no water, no food, no job, no nothing. The contrast of the poverty sitting at the steps of a relatively high tech industrial machine, with its exotic skyscrapers, etc - is extreme and chilling.
This is not a touristed city and so foreigners are quite rare - in fact I have seen about 2 Caucasians besides ourselves (4 of us) since we got here. So as can be imaged - even though they have western TV and movies - to see 'us' white folks in the actual flesh is unusual - we are stared at heavily and are of 'jaw dropping' material...even at this day in India's capital. Fortunately - I am a giant here - of the millions I have already passed, I have yet to see anyone taller than I....I feel safe - the people are very nice - I believe this is because Hindu's (80% of the population) are just plain mellow people - it's seems part of their religion...also - even though there seems to be a huge lack of authority - no police to speak of or military that one can see - strong family values keep people 'in line' via their morals and conscience.
With a population so large in a city with zero zoning laws - or respect for any laws or rules in general - one can only imagine what traffic is like. To truly experience it is pretty unfathomable from a US perspective - since I spend 3to 4 hours per day in it (traffic) I will start with describing this aspect of Delhi life.

We daily drive the 'inner loop' - this is a 4 lane road with a heavy median of stone and rubble down the center so that the 2 lanes of opposing traffic rarely can collide. These 2 'lanes' per side are treated as 5 - 7 lanes of actual traffic as the there is absolutely no respect for any lane division lines, nor for any traffic signals or lights. There exists no real 'police' that I have seen. It is the most insane traffic I have witnessed anywhere on the earth and I thought Bangkok was crazy. The aggressiveness of the drivers is unimaginable until you see it - only surpassed by their mellowness with collisions and lack of reaction to what would seem to us to be the most extreme driving rudeness - fortunately - with so many people - speeds never get much above 30 MPH - the fastest we have yet to go is 80 KPH (48 MPH) - and that is exceedingly dangerous as one cannot predict what will jump out in front at those speeds....there is just so much flesh everywhere. We have already been in 2 significant 'hits' - no one stop for wrecks - you simply drive on faster and do not look back. Wrecks that incapacitate vehicles do not generate too much of a jam as there is no rubbernecking - rather it just another opportunity to take advantage of an opening once past the wreck. The space allowed between vehicles - of which there is every type and variety - is literally inside of an inch constantly - it has to seen to be believed. The skill required to drive on the main drags is considerable to handle these close proximity high precision driving stunts - intersections are no different than the 'crazy 8' races - with cars shooting the gaps at 90 degrees to each other - often accerlating into the intersection rather than slowing - I suppose to reduce your time in the intersection that may be exposed to oncoming traffic. A horn is one of the most important pieces of standard equipment - taking the place of turn signals, brake lights, and more - in fact it is a courtesy to blow your horn when passing - not rudeness - hence everyone is blowing their horns all the time - pure cacophony on the roads.

There are many scammers, and pickpockets, etc...I was 'victimized' by a scam I had to see as I was 'scammed' by a shoe repair man (I think) as my shoes where cut with scalpel precision on the street - both of them cut a few inches across completely through the leather - although my foot was never touched or cut - I did not feel it - but as I passed the shoe repairman on the street he said 'Oh sir, look at your shoes' - and to my amazement my perfectly good shoes were now trash with my socks showing out the side of each - and I had only brought one pair with me - so I had no choice but to get the repair being offered and with little bargaining power - in the end it was only 4 bucks and included new shoelaces and a cleaning - and the sewing job was amazing to watch as he resewed my cut up shoes by hand - very quickly - with great skill. Never-the-less - the bast&rd shouldn't have cut my shoes - probably a small kid did it - one in cahoots with the repairman.

That said - there is also much good - the hotel is one of the most plush I have ever stayed in. The service is incredible everywhere. The food is great - the worst food I've had here -is better than best Indian food I have had in the States - I will be gaining not losing pounds (as expected) before my return for our own fattening holidays. The women are exotic and beautiful - at least to me from the 'other side of the fence'.

A visit to the Taj Mahal on Sunday convinced me that it does deserve to be called a "wonder of the world" - that is a letter in it's own.

Time is short - so I will wend this so that it doesn't sit as a draft for another 2-3 days

Take Care
Still Alive

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hill country Rescue Rangers and VFD Location

We now have an HQ in Spring Branch, Texas. 1335 Covered Wagon is the address, and it's in the Rebecca Creek Subdivision.

I'll be back there in a few weeks to take some pictures, put up a mailbox, and get the dues square with the HOA. Once that's done, we can use the HOA park for camping and training.

Web address is registered, and will be live this week.

www.hcrrvfd.com is one address

Ranger Melvis