Sunday, August 27, 2006

Delhi Belly

(It doesn't look like there will be any more pics until I'm back in China. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of Internet connection I get, Blogger just won't accept any photo uploads to the site.)

I arrived in India's capital a couple of hours ago with a receding case of stomach troubles. Unfortunately I got walloped again at Anupam's house. I think it was the sweet lassi.

On Saturday we headed downtown to pick up my ticket to Shanghai. I must have caught Air India on a good day when I reserved the ticket, because my second visit was an excruciating experience. I arrived in the middle of the staff's 2 hour lunch break, which ran half an hour over the posted time. I was a bit nervous, because I'd been told my reservation expired at 2 pm on Saturday, and by 2:05 the place was still deserted. But apparently the airline's computers take a long break too, so there was no problem getting my reservation. Getting my ticket proved to be a bit of a hassle. The agent insisted that I needed a visa for Shanghai. I tried explaining that I have a visa for China, and that Shanghai is a city. That took a while. They also wanted proof that I had a ticket out of China before they'd let me fly there. I didn't have this much trouble when I was entering China in the first place. Finally the guy ripped my credit card receipt so that my signature wasn't on the merchant copy. I tried to tell him Mastercard probably won't accept unsigned transaction records. I tried.

After that Anupam, his wife and I went in search of the oldest English building in Mumbai, a church that was built in the late 1600s. It had the first photo graph of Mumbai hanging inside. Once you were inside, with all the tombs for knights, gentlemen and ladies, it was easy to forget you were in the heart of India's biggest city.

Following that we visited the home where Ghandi lived when he was in Mumbai, from where he orchestrated much of the resistence. There were letters from him to Hitler, imploring the Fuhr to stand down from war, and F.D.R. His bedroom was preserved behind glass, with his spinning wheel and mattress on the floor.

We capped the visit with the fateful sweet lassi drink.

That night Anupam and I went to a restaurant near his home and quaffed some Kingfishers and shared stories. He's a serial entrepreneur, with many proposals and ideas constantly on the go. He has been tapped by one of the big U.S. business magazines to write a blog about business in India. He's the perfect guy for that.

That night was when my stomach troubles hit me. In hind sight, it meant that I had to get a fair bit of rest, which wasn't bad. I had barely slept in the Mumbai hotel for two nights because of the racket and its short beds.

We ventured out to a big glitzy mall, complete with all the big name U.S. brands. It could have been the Eaton Centre or any other western mall. India is undergoing a huge shift from road side stores to malls. Wal-Mart is eager to enter the market, though merchants are fighting tooth and nail to prevent that. Kind of reminds me of Vancouver.

I bought a couple of CD's at a music store called Planet M, and Anupam bought me the soundtrack to his favourite Indian movie.

My flight to Delhi was uneventful. The hotel is a little ways from downtown, but it's a nice place with WiFi internet, albeit slow. At 3 today I'm getting picked up for an interview, then tomorrow I have another meeting for another story. Wednesday is my free day, so I hope to cram in a lot of shopping before I leave India.

Oh, and my buddy Dean is flying all the way up to Shanghai from Hong Kong to spend the weekend with me before I fly back home. What a guy.

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