India map:
Golden Temple
Jul 29, 2002

These older journal entries were hastily typed in at local cybercafes where I was paying by the minute.  Please excuse grammar mistakes or typos. 

Having trouble losing weight?  Come to India!  You might sweat it off, work it off, throw it up or just shit it out, but I guarantee you, those pounds will come off. 

I put on 4 pounds a year sitting on my ass in front of a computer at Sapient - more than 15 pounds in all.  That's all gone now. 

Come to India.  You might regret it, but you'll come home thinner and possibly even tan. 

Amritsar

I do not intentionally do the opposite of every US State Department travel advisory; it just seems to work out that way.  I buy a newspaper and hop on a bus.  A big front page article reads "US says that India is now safe for Americans _except_ for areas next to the Pakistani border."  Guess where my bus is going... 

Twice in my life I've looked at a photo and said "Wow, I'm going there!" Both times have been right on.  The first was Rovinj, Croatia.  This time my inspiration was a photo of the Golden Temple in Punjab, Holiest of Holies for the Sikhs.  It's a temple covered in gold set in the middle of an artificial lake.  A spectacular sight at night.  I don't understand why the western religions never really adopted the idea of putting reflecting temples around their temples.  Simply beautiful. 

I couldn't find any photos on the web that do the view of the Golden Temple any justice.  I can't guarantee that my photos will do the job any better, but I'll post them once they are developed. 

Delhi

Now back in Delhi where the internet is cheap and the women are not. 

I feel a bit cheated.  All that I knew about India before arriving was the Kama Sutra and Tantric sex - it sounded like a hell of a country!  My preconceptions could not have been more wrong.  Rather than being sexual masters, India tends more towards the sexually repressed with no sex until marriage and illegal pornography. 

Oh, and drinking.  There is very little drinking in India.  The Muslims aren't supposed to drink.  The Hindus aren't supposed to drink.  The Sikhs aren't supposed to drink.  The tourists, they seem to prefer smoking weed to drinking.  Technically, in order to buy alcohol, one is even required to have an alcoholics card to prove that _need_ a drink.  So far, I haven't been asked for mine. 

Since there is no drinking and no sex in India, perhaps I should try spirituality. 

Next stop:  Varanasi, City of Light, Enlightenment & Death. 

If you die in Varanasi you get a shortcut out of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth and go directly to Nirvana.  As such many, many people go to Varanasi to die.  There are dead people in the streets, dead people floating down the river, dead people being burned on the banks of the river.  I don't think it is going to be a fun place, but it should prove interesting. 

More Travelers Tales

Some days I feel like my travels are tame and my lifestyle boring. 

Christine and Malcolm are bicycling from England and Australia for charity. 

Richard is also traveling overland from England to Australia but he took the difficult path through Afghanistan.  He may very well have been the first backpacker to come through the country since the war started.  He had some great stories to tell; hitched a ride with an armored UN convoy to get past Kandahar.  And one night, at a new-found Afghani friend's insistence he pretended to be from Uzbekistan.  If the Taliban at the other end of the restaurant knew he was English they would have likely killed them both. 

Emma is a 20 year old Kiwi.  She has a more than full scholarship to Colby College in Maine where most of her classmates seem to drive Ferraris.  She spends her summers working for the Red Cross in countries like Pakistan.  And oh yeah, she's done an Ironman.  We were hanging out until, due to the threat of war, the Red Cross air-lifted her to Sri Lanka. 

A Columbian couple was telling me of the dangers of traveling as an American.  An American friend of theirs was kidnaped 3 separate times in 3 different countries in only 6 months of traveling.  The highest ransom was $15,000.  Sounds unlikely, but who knows. 


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