Thursday, 29 September 2011

29 September 11: Afternoon and Evening

It's 1800, Thursday night. Getting accustomed to a 24 hour clock. I'm sitting at a rooftop restaurant off the main drag enjoying a bottle of Kingfisher and waiting for my vegetable stew to arrive. The city is still very busy below me. This is my third time venturing out today.

I found an internet cafe right by my hotel and bought some cool electronics there. I bought a basic but functional unlocked cell phone. For under $50, I got the phone, an international SIM card and enough minutes and texts to last most of my trip, I think. For $55, I bought a USB modem and one month of unlimited internet access. It's a great piece of technology. You just plug it into the port and are able to connect anywhere. I don't know why these aren't available in the U.S. I'm connected right now on this rooftop. It's great. I won't need to use internet cafes anymore. Both the SIM card and the modem are without a contract. I just stop by a store or order online when my plan runs out. Unlimited data comes to just under $20 per month. If I had a smart phone, I could use the USB modem in it as well.

So far all significant purchases have required a copy of my passport, including hotel rentals. It's interesting to me that in such a huge, seemingly anonymous country, faces are important. I also had to take a face picture for the SIM card. I had to send in a face pic to the yoga school too.

This afternoon, I found a reprieve from the bustle in the form of a Christian cemetery. It was full of old trees that obscured the noise from the Bazaar, just yards away.

I liked it because most of the grave stones told why the person died: tragic bus accident, cancer, bicycle crash. It fulfilled a morbid curiosity that most cemeteries only tease. The one thing that was missing from the cemetery, and so far, New Delhi in general, was public seating. The only seating available is on rooftops. Which is fine. I just don't know of enough rooftops yet.

I also encountered my first aggressive beggars. Everything I've read says to not dole out money. It's really hard though, when I have so much of it. I hate that I can refuse someone 10 measly rupees and can then turn around and spend 2000 on a phone without blinking. I think the first woman I refused cursed me, calling down Kali's wrath upon me. It felt shitty. I hate curses. I ended up buying street food for another woman and her daughter. I chose the place, so I didn't feel like she was intentionally taking me to an establishment where she gets a cut and I get overcharged. I dislike feeling so distrustful. Other than being cursed and catcalled, the locals have all been incredibly kind. It feels unnatural to automatically dismiss people like this. I've decided that ignoring doesn't work: I need to explicitly say no thank you, I'm not interested. Oh yeah, everyone asks how long I've been here. I figure that saying, “since 0300” pegs me as a mark, so I've taken to responding with “for a while.”

Other backpackers. Where are you? I see you, but you're unwilling to return eye contact or smiles. I keep showing up at places where you're supposed to hang out as per the internet, and yet you're not there. It's been so long since I've talked to anyone. I hope I meet people soon.

By the way, my vegetable dish from Metropolis Hotel was good but greasy. As in there was a pool of orange grease, maybe half a cup, at the bottom of the bowl. And no spice. I'm still nursing the Kingfisher.

Bathing is on my agenda for tonight. I will purchase soap and a wash cloth. I also want to get a day bag with a zipper so I can lug something smaller than my backpack around. I now have the internet along with a catalog of media to consume. I may hit up my rooftop and see if anyone converges there.

Oh yeah, two liter sized bottles of water cost $0.40. Not bad. I've yet to see a trash can anywhere. 

Oooh. Tonight was awesome. I'll write about it tomorrow.

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