Saturday, September 17, 2011
The Rest of India
I can't really say a whole lot about Pune and Hyderabad. We spent so little time there that I didn't get to do or see almost anything. I can say that the climate there was much more pleasant than it had been in both Delhi and Mumbai. In Pune, we essentially arrived in the morning, ate lunch at the hotel, did our fair, had a meeting after, and prepared to wake up at 3am the following day to catch our flight to Hyderabad. We had the evening free where we could have seen something, but most people were just too tired to go anywhere. It was okay for me because I had initially planned to go out with a new friend I had made last year during my business trip to India who is from Pune and lives there. He had always invited me to let him know if I was going to be in town, so I contacted him before I left, he gave me his number and told me to call him when I was there and we could go for supper or drinks. I had told him I wanted to try something that was typical from Pune or the region, so he said that he would take me somewhere for Puneri food. So once I was done my events for the day, I called him. That's when things became interesting.
A woman answered the phone, so she gave the phone to my friend. He told me he had just returned from a business trip to Mumbai and that he would call me back in about 10 minutes to let me know where we would go to eat. I then had a feeling I would never hear from him again. I was not wrong. He didn't even email to explain what happened. But I have a theory. Although we did not email frequently, we exchanged maybe 4 or 5 emails since last April, and I didn't really have a sense that he was romantically interested or anything. But at the same time, earlier this year or late last year, he revealed to me he had a 3-year old daughter. It seemed suspicious because you usually don't meet too many single fathers, but knowing he had done his MBA abroad and was of a younger generation, it didn't seem out of the question that he might have been divorced. Yet the number he gave me was his mobile, and when I heard a woman answering his phone, it struck me that this was probably his wife, and he's not divorced at all. I would imagine his wife put a stop to our dinner plans. The fact that he concealed this information, if it is indeed true, makes me think that maybe he did want to have some sort of affair or something. It's really suspicious, anyway. In the end, I was ok with not going out because I was equally tired. We had all woken up around 4 that morning to catch our flight.
As for Hyderabad, we at least got to see the city as we were driving around to visit the various schools. The city seems to be quite beautiful and is really rocky. I couldn't get too many good photos of it unfortunately, but there are a couple. You also see a lot of minarets there as about 60% of the population is Muslim.
The final city we went to, where there's a climate even more temperate, is Bangalore, now called Bangaluru, although I have a harder time getting used to saying that than I did Mumbai. The climate there is so nice, and the city is quite different in that about 80% of the population holds a post-secondary degree. I was considering trying to figure out how I could get a job there for a moment! I didn't really do much sightseeing there either as most of the people I was with just wanted to shop. I was a little disappointed because I had wanted to see the Bombay Palace, but I don't like to go out alone in India. I don't know that it's necessarily unsafe, but I just don't like to take chances. We did have a good time shopping at some Kashmiri emporiums. The 3rd and last store we went to was the best, and the guy there was super friendly and was telling me all kinds of interesting things about their textiles and fabrics. He also was kind enough to inform us that a guy who had offered to shuttle us to a factory of a store that was closed, a store that we had wanted to go to but was closed for the Ganesha festival that day, was just trying to take advantage of us and probably had his own store somewhere. Apparently even if there was a factory, it would equally have been closed for the festival because as government-run emporiums and businesses, they have to close for that festival. Yikes. I'm glad he was so friendly and helpful. He didn't try to "fleece" (another Indian term for taking advantage of someone) us at all.
Next up will be tales of Pakistan and the journey there.