A Rock Concert in Chandigarh? For Real?
Thursday, November 24
So last night I went to a rock show in Chandigarh. I know I laughed when I heard there was going to be one too but they actually pulled it off. It was part of a nationwide college battle of the bands that I think was sponsored by MTV India. When I walked in I was pleasantly surprised that they had a real stage and if there was only beer gardens it could pass for a real concert.
The first few bands were very very very bad. They love their metal and hard rock in India but when the guy just screams into the mic for 20 minutes and his backup can barley play a guitar it wears a little thin. The last two bands of the night saved the show. They were the winner from Delhi and last years winner. I never thought I would see a mosh pit and people trying to crowd surf in Chandigarh but I swear it happened. They played a cover of Rage Against the Machine that brought the house down at the end which was sadly 10pm. None the less the concert changed my perception, now I know there is a young generation of Indians coming up who are learning how to party! Now if only they could get into alt rock.
On another musical note my friend just showed me this site and it’s very cool. You can create your own personalized streaming radio stations based on artists and songs that you like. For those long days at work it’s perfect – www.pandora.com
Sunday, November 20
Location: Small Convenience Stand at the 35, 36C Chowk (round about)
While ordinarily I stick to chai because what passes for coffee in India sends me into diabetic shock, on Saturday night I had to go for a coffee. Mads and I went out earlier in the day and bought a few pirated dvd’s and we had a lazy afternoon watching a couple bad action movies on a 12 inch computer screen. Diner took 2 ½ hours to be delivered because the restaurant neglected to mention to me that they don’t deliver until after 7 when I ordered at 5:30. B the time eight at night rolled around I was exhausted and needed a little pick me up. So a couple of us pushed on the flip-flops and walked to the chowk by our house to buy some chocolate. When we got there, to my surprise they had something that resembled an espresso machine with a steamer so I had to try a coffee.
While it was made with nicely steamed foamy milk for some reason they used instant coffee. I have a personal hatred for instant coffee but when mixed with tons of sugar, foamy milk and an increasingly chilly evening in Chandigrah it felt somehow comforting. The foam was dusted with chocolate, which was more elegance than I would expect from a roadside stand and the barista (I think Starbucks trained him) took great care to ensure that the foam was up over the edge of the styrofoam cup. While I would not classify the drink as coffee, it reminded me of hot chocolate from machines at the ski hill and I will be back if only for the few seconds of nostalgic memory and a warm drink to stave of the north Indian nights.
Purchasing a Camel
Wednesday, November 16
For one they are so cute. I’ve been hanging around a lot of camels in India and have to say you’d be hard pressed to find an animal that is more relaxed and yet such a good conversationalist. Over the weekend I was in Pushkar to see the once a year camel festival with supposedly 200,000 people and 50,000 camels. While the numbers may have been somewhat questionable, there were still a ton of camels there. They were all dressed up in the fairs finest with red pompoms on their noses and patterns shaved and died into their fur.
I started bargaining for one just to find out the price, you can’t go to a camel fair and not shop around. I guess I picked out a cheap one for about 10, 000 Rp (about $300 CN). He seemed like a sturdy camel and I think he would do me nicely. In buying a camel I think it’s important to look for a few things.
- How tall is your camel? He will not respect you if you can’t look him in the eye.
- Are you looking for a camel with one hump or two? Consider your future family planning when making this decision as a young family can quickly outgrow a one hump camel.
- How much care has your camel taken in dressing up for the fair and having their hair done?
- How old is the camel? A camel can live up to 40 years but these are working camels and older ones should be cheaper than the strong young ones.
- Do you and your camel get along? Many people forget how important it is to have a good personality match with your camel. Don’t get home and realize that you picked the one who’s making loud noises like Chewbacca because he’s lonely.
Once you’ve picked out the camel for you, you’ll have years of enjoyment riding around the desert together. Good luck!
Went to the Doctor
Friday, November 11
I went to the Doctor behind my office on the third day of sickness looking for some relief. It was $3 for a check up so I knew he had to be well qualified and probably top of his class. After a thorough check up of asking me a couple questions and taking my blood pressure the nurse came in with a thermometer. After a minute of talking in hindi the doctor said in english anywhere and shrugged. I was a little nervous wondering where that old school glass thermometer was going to end up but thankfully the cold little guy just went under my arm.
He seemed a little stumped by what I might have but this did not stop him from prescribing no less that five types of medication. After quickly explaining them to me and paying my $2.50 for my drugs I headed out the door. When I got back to work I realized that for my own safety I should probably look up the drugs he gave me on the internet and self medicate. Sure enough there was a heavy duty dose of some fever medication that is double what is allowable in the US so I'll skip that one. Then there was some antacid, not sure what that's for?, then some I couldn't find on the internet, don't think I'll take those. And finally some cold pills and antibiotics, guess I'll take them.
So now I am feeling much better and who knows maybe it was the Indian cocktail of drugs that cured me!
Wednesday, November 2
Go to this and under "The New Music Show" click here to listen
Location: Down some back alley in the old city section of Jaipur, Rajakstan
After spending 2 days in the heat seeing the sights and amazing forts around Jaipur my throat was thirsty for a refreshing chai. For some reason restaurants are hard to find in the city and for the two previous days I had to settle for banana and saffron lassies to satisfy my thirst but on Sunday night we found a pleasant chai shop tucked up a brightly lit back alley. The streets and the atmosphere in Jaipur were incredible with diwali, the festival of lights and firecrackers creating a Christmas like spirit. As we sought refuge from the masses scurrying to buy up gifts for relatives and a main street to rival Vegas we wandered up a back alley and stumbled upon a quiet chai shop. Just sitting was a relief and when the chai chef showed some flair pouring from an old steel kettle a meter about the glasses it was clear that he was a professional.
The chai itself was not too sweet but made with very thick milk leaving a sticky feeling of eating too much peanut butter in the mouth. The subtle cardamom undertones seemed to suit the desert climate and celebratory atmosphere outside while the thickness drew me in and relaxed my aching flip-flop clad feet. The chai failed to really capture the Middle Eastern feel of Jaipur however and didn’t bring to mind images of the Aladdin like forts we’d been seeing for the last two days the way I had hoped. So as we got up to head back out to the street and the fire crackers I felt refreshed but needing more of the atmosphere of Jaipur at diwali.
PS. In case you were worried I’m fine but my thoughts go out to those hurt and killed in Delhi over the weekend.