Bombay By Way Of San Jose

charminar market Aug 16, 2009 3-56
Fresh pineapple cut to order. Don’t eat it, though. You’ve been warned.

Greetings from India. This is my fourth week here, about the halfway point of the trip, and all is well.

Well, sort of. The first week was taken up with recovering from jet lag. They say to expect a day of screwed-up circadian rhythm for each time zone you travel through, and I passed over fifteen getting here. Once you’re over it, however, you kind of miss it. Even though you’re crashing out at around nine every night, you’re also awake by four in the morning, which equates into a whole extra half-day if you act on it. But even when you recover from jet lag, homesickness can set in right afterward.

A little history: not only is this my first visit to a country outside the U.S., it’s also the first time I’ve traveled anywhere by plane in over a decade, since before 9/11. So between not getting sick on the flight over and not getting sick from questionable food or water sources, I think a little pining for my own bed is a natural reaction and the least that could happen. It could very easily have been worse.

And by “worse,” most people mean, of course the Indian equivalent of Montezuma’s revenge, a.k.a. “Delhi belly,” or less delicately, mudbutt.” Dysentery and its cousins can be caused by improper food handling, unsanitary conditions, or simply a tender tummy’s reaction to new foods. But the biggest culprit of intestinal illnesses in the developing world is, sadly, the water. The hard and fast rule is that if you’re traveling in a country where you don’t absolutely trust the source of your food, there are only two safe choices; eating something that’s had the shit boiled out of it, or eating something that you can peel, like a banana.

Of all the things you’ve heard about India, the one that turns out to be the most true is the people. I’m currently working in Hyderbad, which is one of the country’s Silicon Valley counterparts; it’s also the third largest outsourcing city in India. People are everywhere; crowding the roads with their insane driving, building mansions into the rocky hills, and selling everything in the marketplace. Find out what after the jump.

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