My First Bad Day In India

It is bound to happen, particularly when you are traveling. Sometimes days start wrong and never get better. Thank goodness that doesn’t happen often.
I had a 6:30 AM flight this morning so I arranged a 4:30 am taxi. I was afraid I might oversleep so I didn’t fall asleep at all last night. The cab ride was 435 rupees. I had a 1000 rupee note. He got my change and handed it to me rolled up. I was sleepy, checked the amount and stuck it in my purse.
Problem 1: When I got to the airport to buy some coffee the snack bar wouldn’t take the 500 note because it had been torn and taped back together. Caution: always check the change people give you, particularly if it is rolled up. Stores will not take any note that is torn, with even a small tear, or taped. If you happen to get stuck with one of those bills, take it into a bank for exchange.
Problem 2: AVOID INDIGO AIRLINES!! When I got to the airport to leave Jaipur Indigo Airlines charged me for 12 kgs over the checked baggage weight. That totaled 3000 rupees ($50). These are the identical bags with the identical things that I came to Jaipur with. I was only 3 kgs over when I flew into Jaipur on a different airline. I had a connecting flight with Spice Jet and they only charged me for 3 kgs over. Same bags, both ziplocked and unopened.
Why did Indigo Airlines charge me so much? Their size restriction on carryon bags is tiny. It’s about the size of my purse. It’s much smaller than the new international size therefore they charged my carryon bag as checked baggage. UUUFFFF. I am carrying that bag on every other airline I’ve flown. Why not INDIGO? It’s surely a price gouging scheme. They don’t fly planes with smaller overhead bins. The bag fits in their bins.
I haven’t even been buying souvenirs or gifts because my bags are already over in weight. Important Note: The size restrictions for domestic travel within India are much smaller than the luggage you probably carried into India from your foreign locale. Totally silly rules! I am traveling with new luggage on this trip. I have the new 14 inch size carryon. The carryon bag size at INDIGO is smaller than even the new smaller internationally acceptable size. And they only allow you to check 17 kgs and carry 7 kgs onboard. I have been charged between $25 and $50 (that’s USD) every time I have taken a flight. I don’t know who calibrates these scales because none of them read the same.
Before I began taking the domestic flights I weighed my bags on a step on scale at my friend’s house and they were within the guidelines. That is after I left quite a few things with friends in Delhi. Not all tourists have friends in India to leave things with. And I can’t believe the craft shops could be happy with these restrictions, which prevents the average tourist from buying anything in India. My advice is to come with no clothes and only buy what you need here. If you come naked you might be able take a few gifts home….lol.
Problem 3: After arguing with Indigo Airlines, I made my way to Spice Jet in Delhi to pick up my boarding passes for Chandigarh and was told that the 4 hour wait I thought I was facing had now turned into a 9 hour wait. And the lounge area was “under construction.” They had been trying to send a schedule change text message to my US cell number, which wasn’t on. I turned it on later and found no pending text messages. In any event, Instead of sitting here from 7:30 to 1:00, I’ll be here until 6:10 pm. Spice Jet could’ve offered me a nearby room, but they refused. Can the day be any worse? I hope not!
Problem 4: During my 9 hour wait in the Delhi Domestic Airport they had very little food available. That terminal is under renovation so I didn’t have a proper lunch. Thank goodness I’m headed to Chandigarh to one of my favorite hotels, The Shivalik View. They include a great buffet breakfast and dinner in the room rate. I finally sat down to dinner at 8 pm, a full day since I’d eaten my last proper meal.
I collapsed in bed and woke up the next day with an eye infection, probably from rubbing my eyes so much the day before. Glad that day is over.

The Lotus Temple in Delhi

One of the moist beautiful temples in Delhi is the Lotus Temple of the Baha’i Faith. It is listed as one of the most visited buildings in the world, surpassing even the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

The structure has won many architectural awards for it’s design, which depicts a lotus flower. It is surrounded by nine pools of water and the interior is very cool, even on a hot day. Each Baha’i temple has nine sides and nine doors. The cavernous interior is 40 feet high and can hold up to 2500 worshipers. On Hindu holy days the attendance surpasses 150,000 per day.

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GEThe temple is closed on Mondays, so please plan your visit accordingly.

The Baha’i faith is from Persia and they welcome everyone into their meditation sanctuary.

My Discovery of Khajuraho

India never fails to surprise me.  Nothing has surprised me more than the carvings on the temples of Khajuraho.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.  After all, India is the land of the Kama Sutra.  Still, finding sexual images carved into the temples in Khajuraho, was a shock.  These weren’t just couples either.  The pictures depicted group sex, homosexual sex and beastiality too.  Just looking at those images embarrassed me…hahaha. Here’s a video that I found on YouTube.  You’ll see what I’m talking about! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=1C_dnoOvgNg (The tabla drum playing you hear on this video must be the world famous Zakir Hussein.  I have never heard anyone else play the tablas like that.  He’s the master of tablas.) My guide around the temples was a man named Anand.  He looked to be more than 50 yrs old. Maybe he wasn’t an Indian government guide, but he told me he had been working there since he was young.  Anand also surprised me.  I’ll tell you about that in another story.

He wasn’t what you would call professional looking but he knew the history quite well and he laughed at me when I put my hands over my eyes and screamed “What’s spiritual about this?”  I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Anand. I just couldn’t get over seeing erotic carvings like this on a temple.  Anand reminded me that sexual relations are a spiritual thing too.  I had to concede that he was right. I still think some of what I saw was perverse.  I hope you believe me when I say I am not normally a judgmental person, but that was tested in Khajuraho. These images were sculpted between 950-1150 AD and depict the tantric sexual practices of the people at that time.  They also depict everyday life of the farming areas where they are located and bosomy ladies frolicking around the house. Be sure not to miss the show that is given every night on the temple grounds.  It helps explain the history and philosophy behind the temples and the sculptures. Tantric sex was practiced by followers of Shiva and concentrates on the Shakti or the chakra devoted to sexual energy.  Even today tantric yoga, or kundalini yoga, is quite popular in India and all over the globe.  Several yogis have set up ashrams in and around Khajuraho to teach these techniques.  The Indians I met there said to be wary of these yogis because they can sometimes be quite promiscuous. I’m glad I heard their warning. I met one of these swamis online and I went by his ashram to meet him in person.  We had a wonderful meditation.  He really is an excellent teacher.  Even though we had a “friendship only” relationship it was all I could do to thwart his advances.  He was firmly convinced that I was the “female energy” he had been waiting for. (Smile) On the second day I was in Khajuraho, my swami friend Sunish showed up at my door with a saffron robe he had made for me.  He wanted me to be a part of his ashram and help him with his work.  He was quite serious about getting me involved but I declined his offer.  He has since married and hopefully he found the energy he needed to continue with his amazing work.