A View From My
Hello my children! Gather around Grandpa Larry as he completes his tale of his trip to
My Wife Goes to
We return home from
Deepti is an actor. She and I have both done work for a cable channel in
Deepti has done two serials for
Before our trip to
Now is the time for a little history. Some of you may know this, others may not.
When the country finally gained it’s independence from
As a side note, and you know how I feel about side notes: the embassies in
So, because the countries don’t like each other, even though the citizens share a spoken language, heritage and, until fairly recently, a common history, it is difficult for one to get in without the proper visas. And the visas are hard to get.
At times it seems, my wife was the only one working towards getting her into
In the end: it was on the side of the producers in
But why cry about spilt milk?
A change of plans. Now, they were going to film in
And then ANOTHER change of plans! They were just going to film in
But, before Deepti went away, we were able to do some site seeing. There was one site in particular that I wanted to see: Jantar Mantar, an 18th century astronomical complex in the heart of
The complex has is made of what look like strange sculptures but are in fact astronomical tools. The most recognizable is the giant sundial, over 100 feet fight high and accurate to the minute.
There are other…for a lack of a better term, machines, there that can be used to predict the motions of the moon, planets and the sun. These devices are made from a red stone topped with white lime stone. Precise marks are inscribed. These are like any other scientific machines, just made from stone and you climb around in them.
The area is enclosed, you have to pay to get in. Just like the Taj Mahal, if you are Indian you get a deal, me, I had to pay 100 rupees. Which, well, is about 2 bucks. So, it’s still a deal. But, Deepti, she had to pay 10 rupees. Which is a much better deal. We momentarily thought about trying to sneak me in, but then we realized…I don’t really look Indian. So, we abandoned that plan.
It was a bright, cool, day. One of those days you just want to hang out and enjoy. Jantar Mantar, walled off from the city, was quiet, peaceful. Couples were sitting on the grass and enjoying the stillness. In fact, it was the first time I really found a place in
We began to move to the first sculpture…no…device…no…machine. We moved to the first thing. It was about twenty feet high, a long stairway in the center and two half circles curving down to the ground. I couldn’t tell you what it was for, but…I loved it. I was fascinated.
I’ve always been a sucker for anything space related. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by space travel and exploration, I soaked up the history, I even went to Space Camp. Though strangely, while I was interested, I never really got into astronomy. I liked it, took a class, but I never went beyond the simple telescope my parents got me for Christmas. I would take it out occasionally, every so often looking at the moon or a star…which would turn out to be Saturn. I was a haphazard Astronomer.
I think I like to hear about it…
Anyway…So, while I was doing my best to figure out what this particular building was used for, a 60 year old man limped over to us. He explained to us that he was an employee of the complex, and wondered if we had any questions. My Super-Ego whispered in my head: you don’t have any questions! You’re a smart guy! There’s a plaque. Read the plaque!
My wife, however, had the good sense to say yes. My Super-Ego crossed his arms and became petulant…but silent.
The man took us to each building. The largest by far, and in the center of the complex was the sundial. My Super-Ego: Duh, I knew that one. It was large triangle, about 100 feet high and on the ground on either side of the triangle were markings… The man pointed to the shadow and asked us the time…it was off from Deepti’s watch. By about 30 minutes. He smiled and explained…The sundial was locale time…if adjusted for longitude…it was right, to the minute.
The next building was a round, two stories with what seemed like windows all around it. There was nothing inside the building, it was empty, no floors or anything. This was used for the phases of the moon.
The last one he showed us was a monument that was dug into the ground, like an empty swimming pool, curved with metal rods in certain places, this was used to help establish a child’s horoscope. Then he said, this is the only one that no longer works. My head tilted, didn’t work? There were no moving parts. Then he pointed to the buildings outside of the complex to the east and the west. Because of their height, they block certain important parts of the sky, making it impossible for this particular machine to work to its fullest. Modern life encroaching in on the past…
At the end…the man reminded us…he was an employee there, and he was paid a salary…but if there was anyway we could see to…you know…
Information does not come with out a price. 50 rupees.
The Coat and Mummyji
Before I left
Of all the things that I wanted in
Deepti and I spent a few days together shopping in
Finally, we ran out of time, Deepti had to go. We kissed good bye and off she went to the land down under.
Which meant, I was home with my in-laws. Alone.
Getting married isn’t just getting a wife, it’s also getting another set of parents who will feed you. It’s awesome. (and feed I did, I must say.)
Mummyji liked the fact that I liked Indian food, and that I would keep eating. And eating. Now…the thing is if you say no, I don’t want any more, that doesn’t mean they won’t give you more. In fact, you will kept being offered and given food. One no isn’t enough. You have to say no repeatedly. Or more delicious foods will arrive. Hot, fried delicious foods.
Deepti gone, and Daddyji back to work, it was me and Mummyji. She played catch up in the house, that silly old wedding was a distraction to getting things done in the house. I was content for a little bit to read, just to sit and read and not meet anyone.
In the end though…there was the jacket.
Mummyji likes to shop. That is a fact. That the Sun will rise and set, my mother in law will shop. She was excited about finding the Nehru jacket. It became a quest.
We got a driver and went to various markets. One was this lovely outdoor market, geared towards tourists. A wide open walk way, with various little shops. Even a food court representing different foods from all around
Onto the next market. And then the next. And the next. We started asking, do you have any Nehru jackets? They would show us what they have, and I would just shake my head…all of them were without sleeves. Not what I wanted. We pressed on.
Soon, I learned something. Language is a finny thing. I kept asking for a Nehru jacket, and I kept getting ones without sleeves. And I knew ones WITH sleeves existed, but I was amazed we couldn’t find any. I mention this to Mummyji. Why weren’t we finding any Nehru jackets with sleeves? Because jackets don’t come with sleeves.
P.S.—I got my Nehru…coat.
The time had come. Three and a half weeks in
Ah, sweet British Airways…
Having said my goodbye’s to Mummyji, Daddyji and I got into a car and headed out to the airport. I think I had been to this airport 15 times since I had arrived in
Daddyji dropped me off, waiting for me to check in. Everything was fine. I had time to go through security, board and then, as the schedule said, plenty of time in Heathrow for my flight back to
Where I waited.
And waited yet again.
It seems the flight was delayed. Imagine my surprise.
Finally, we boarded the plane…I got my window seat near the bulkhead…plenty of leg room, I learned that lesson on the first flight. I settled in for my flight…only beginning to panic a little bit…my few hours of leisure time at Heathrow were evaporating….
And indeed…it dwindled to…me rushing through the airport with only 30 minutes to get to my plane. I was hoping to have had time to buy liquor at the duty free shop, booze for you all…but…alas, you will have to complain to British Airways…
And then onto the next plane…
On the leg from
It was a taste of home. A taste that…Ok. I’ll put it this way: I generally tell people I only had one moment of food poisoning while in
I was worried. About customs. Not that I had anything illegal in my bags, but…I had a lot. And I’m not to sure when I have to declare something. Sure, I received that piece of paper in government speak, but, still, I’m always nervous they are going to demand my bag to be opened and discover that I bought one to many T-shirts of the Taj Mahal and I now need to pay taxes. Right then and there. Cash only, no check, no credit cards.
The guy at customs barely looked at me. I was ushered through with no problems. A small part of me was disappointed…but, then, the smarter part of me was thrilled, now I could get into a cab and go home.
And home I went…where for four days I went to bed at three in the morning and waking up at eleven. Oh, sweet sweet jet lag…
That’s it! That’s the trip. My first and the beginning of a life time of trips back to
I am living a life that I never imagined. I never imagined I would marry a woman, a wonderful, amazing woman, from another country. That half of my family is in a country on the other side of the world. That my life is now wrapped into the history of this marvelous country, filled with such astounding contradictions, with ancient history, with new found pride as it grows by leaps and bounds.
My new family welcomed me, my parents, and others with wide open arms and for that I am eternally grateful.
And what’s next for the View From My Apartment? Now that I have finished the series, I’ll be able to dedicate more attention to this blog. I hope to do this much more regularly and my apologies to those who have waited with patience (like my mom) for me to stop being so lazy and write this damn thing. Thanks!