Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Our trip started on Wednesday evening when we wanted to catch the bus to Delhi. We know Chandigarh pretty well so we had no problems to book the AC bus. But as it is AC bus it means that it is freezer. Indians are crazy about AC and it is better to take warm socks, long trousers and a jacket so that you are not cold. Sounds crazy when we talk about India, right?
Anyways we came to Delhi at 4 am in the morning, took a rickshaw and went to our hotel. The other day we started our journey in Delhi. We managed to see the Secretariat, India gate and Jama masjit. We ate in a very fancy restaurant and finally had something non Indian.

Our trip was a bit tough as the other morning we had a train to Agra. We wanted to experience the true Indian trains so we took the lowest class. It was only 3 hours so it was not that bad. Me and y Czech friend Maruska are used to staring people and males taking pictures of us. The train had grillage on the windows, maybe to keep the passengers inside and it was a bit stinky, I guess because people piss on the floor.
The whole way there were people selling food, indian tea and different drinks. We rather did not eat anything because we know what street food can do with our stomach, right? After around one hour there were 2 transvestites coming into the train. They said something in Hindi, touched our heads, clapped and left. It was because me and Maruska were girls. Our other friend Ganda does not have such a pleasant experience with it. He was touched much more and they wanted money from him. I heard different stories from different interns that these people sometimes touch male's buts and when they want money from you and you don't give they can even curse you. I guess we were lucky and so we were not cursed or harmed in any way.
After we got off in Agra we found out that Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. Such a pity. As we cannot miss it we decided to change our tickets, we cancelled our train tickets and book a bus tickets to Jaipur. In Agra you can see Taj Mahal, Baby Taj Mahal, Agra fort and some other Palaces which we did not see because they were too far.
When we went to Taj Mahal, there was a cyclo rickshaw which charged all 3 of us only 10 Rs. We were wondering why is it so cheap and after few meters we found out why. Taj Mahal was only 5 minutes walking from the place we took the rickshaw. The driver was very polite though. Even though he did not speak English he at least tried to start the conversation. He asked: Where are you from? Our reply was pretty natural: From different countries (as it was me from Slovakia, Maruska from Czech Republic and Ganda from Indonesia). The driver was pleased with the answer and said: Oh, very nice country. At least he tried :)
Taj Mahal was built by one emperor. His favourite wife died when she was giving birth to their 14th kid and she wanted him to build something unforgettable. He built Taj Mahal after few years of her death, sometimes in 17th century and it was supposed to be her tomb. Anyways there is no doubt that the building is worth to see if anyone comes to India.
The only thing that bothers me in Agra is the discrimination of tourists. If you are not an Indian citizen, you pay for entry from Rs. 100 for Baby Taj Mahal to Rs. 750 for Taj Mahal. Indian citizens pay only 10 to 20 Rs. If they see that you are white all the beggars and other dealers will come and offer you what they have. The thing is that they are so anoying that you can't rid of them. And they want to charge you for every single thing, if you take a picture or even if you don't ask for their service and they provide it without your permission.
After this we were heading for Jaipur. We almost missed our bus because of bad timing and after it came we found out that it is not a tourist bus as we booked but a local bus. We were shifted to the upper places which were meant for sleeping. As 99% of all passengers were Indian locals we felt like in the Zoo. At least we can feel how black people feel when they come to our villages.
Jaipur is a beautiful city. Although it is called pink city it is more of the orange then pink. Anyways we stayed in the trainee house. The trainees there have such a beautiful house. On a rank from 1 to 10 I will give 8. (And to our in 37 I will give 1 :D)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cycling day in Chandigarh

Today, 23rd August was a big day for Chandigarh. At least it was planned to be a big day. Today was a cycling day. Number of expected delegates was around 1000. As one of my friends, Ganda from Indonesia is working for Chandigarh tourism, the company which organizes this event, also the AIESECers and interns were supposed to participate. And we were supposed to be provided with the bikes. Local people had to take their own bikes but it is not that big deal when you live here, right?
The planned route was from Open Hand monument to Sukhna lake, from 7am till 12.
Well as we are in incredible India, reality was "slightly" different.
I woke up at 6.10 to be at the right place on time. Chandigarh is famous for this Open Hand monument as it is a symbol of the city, but the rickshaw drivers don't know the way how to get there. Therefore it took us longer to bargain the price and find the way how to get there. Me and my Chinese friend Louis were right on time, just 2 minutes before 7. He was pretty excited about all this and rushed to find a bicycle.
Right on time, the tour started. Ganda did not showed up so we just grabbed the first bicycles we saw and rushed into the crowd. Louis obviously wanted to be the first one, although there was no price for this and he immediately disappeared. Me and Louis were the only interns who came so I decided to enjoy the the whole ride. But as shit happens my bicycle broke down and I could not fix it.
But another guardian angel came and helped me out from this situation. The journalist stopped by and took me by his car to the place. We were following the race and I was happy I am part of it and a bit disappointed because of my bike.
After 15 minutes we reached the tea place. I thought first that it is just a first stop but after couple of talks I found out that the race is over.
So imagine you wake up at 6.10, rush into the Open Hand monument to be on time, steal someone's bicycle to participate and it all only for 15 minutes race without any price. Well at least we see how things work in India.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guardian Angel

I was walking on a street with my friend when I was stopped by an old man. He did not ask much and started to explain that he is a guardian angel of tourists and foreigners in Chandigarh. He showed a couple of years old article from the newspapers and his notebook where all the foreigners he met wrote something in their own language.
This is the article:



As we all know India and Pakistan are not friends at all. From the time they splitted they did not like each other and even we had experienced different bomb blasts before Indian Independence day.
Anyway there is a city near the india-pakistan borders called Amritsar. It is famous for the Golden temple, the temple which is made from gold and is Gurudwara of Sikhs. You cannot enter without covering your knees, shoulders and head.
Sikhism is a religion which is most visible in Punjab area. Sikhs came from Hindu but it is a different religion. These are the people who wear turbans.
They worship 11 Gurus where their last Guru is a holy book. There are 5 elements which show that they are Sikhs. First they do not cut their hair and never shave. The idea of this is that they are as the God made them and therefore they should not change anything on their body. Even men do have long hair and that is why they tie the turban.
The next is iron bracelet which should stop them from making anything bad. Then they wear a comb to remove the dead hair and all the bad ideas. They also wear some special underwear which I have still no idea what it is for and they have a knife for their own protection and protection of their families and relatives.
The other attraction you can see is pakistani border. It is approximately 4 km from Amritsar and it is the only place where you can cross the borders to Pakistan. And they have a celebration every day. On both sides people dance and sing although the Indian side is much louder that the Pakistani one.
Apart from these two things there is not much to see in Amritsar therefore one day trip is far enough.


Manali is a city up north on the way to Kashmir. Usually it takes 10 to 14 hours to get there. But as we are lucky we are a special case and our bus took almost 20 hours to get there. On a way there there was a landslide so we had to take a detour and that made us late.
Anyways I have to say that it is worth all of the endless hours in the bus, bumby ride on the curves of Indian mountains and broken seats of the Tourist bus.
To compare it with something I know, mountains in Manali are more like our High Tatras. They are rocky and you see many pine trees, grass and eagles. The weather is also cool and it is a nice break from hot Chandigarh.

You can do lots of shopping there and also adventurous sports. The options are from ballooning, paragliding to rafting and rock climbing. The only thing you need for that is good weather which is in the monsoon season pretty hard. Therefore we could not do any of these. On the other hand we went to Rothan Pass which is around 2 hours from Manali on a way to Leh. From this point you can see Himalayas and also a snow line. You even can get horses and coat and get directly to the snow line.
And the best thing about Manali is that their food is delicious.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Indian wedding

In India, they have two types of weddings. One is arrange marriage which is what your parents think is best for you and how they agree with parents of the other family. The other is love marriage, a marriage when you choose a person to marry but still your family has to approve it.
I have seen Hindu wedding, arranged marriage. The celebration and wedding party was for two days but we could attend only the second day. When we came everybody was very friendly to us, I guess because we are foreigners. Everybody was just eating, dancing, chatting for the first two hours.
Afterwards we saw the bride. She was wearing red dress, mendhi and lots of jeweleries.
The ceremony was as following:
The groom comes on a horse. All his friends and family are celebrating and dancing in front or around him. He was wearing a necklace made from money and seemed really happy.
Afterwards he comes to the gate where the brides family awaits him. According to tradition they don't allow him to enter unless he pays something. And here comes bargaining again. Indians bargain a lot, even the price of their bride.
When he finally comes to the hall and sits in his chair waiting for the bride it takes another one hour till she comes. Both of them then exchange rings because the fourth finger is supposed to be linked with your heart.
Afterwards people come and congratulate, celebrate, eat or leave.
Shocking part of the wedding was that neither groom nor bride seemed really happy when they were together. Both of them were a bit worried and confused. The other thing is that not all the people went to congratulate the "happy" couple. Most of them just came, ate and left. I am not sure if the bride or groom knew all of the people who came.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hamari Kaksha

Hamari Kaksha is the NGO where I was working for the past one week. It was established in order to educate those kids who would not have a chance to do that. Most of them are from underprivileged families. They are working in the morning and from 3 to 6 they come to play to this Nursery school. This is the only way of education they can get. And I think the only time when they can really enjoy being a child.
They have been working for past few weeks on different plays on various topics. The topics are environment, road safety, corruption and byrocracy or education of women. The average age of the kids here is from 9 to 13. What amazed me a lot that they are very talented. Even though they have very hard life, they come every day and for few hours, they can be kids. They can play with the others and learn something. Most of them do not know English but even though they are trying. I am sure that it was the first time for them to hold my camera when they took pictures with it. I love the smile on their faces and the positive attitude you can see on their faces.
Working with these kids is a challenge and it definitely made one realize how lucky we are that our education is mandatory. And we do not appreciate it!
People who are working with these kids are all volunteers. They do come and spend their time teaching them just for a feeling of satisfaction and to see their smiles.