May 6th, 2006

on NB

Bamboo from Burma

The story on the bamboo that these huts are built with is that the
bamboo rafts are cast adrift with the temples on them to propititate the
gods and provide protection from disasters. Some of them are found at
sea by the local fisherman, which is a windfall for them, since the sale
of the materials can provide up to four months usual income.

I got a haircut and beard trim in the village, so I'm spiffy again, or
as spiffy as I can get in this climate. I'm basically just waiting for
the boat to Port Blair now. I took care of a little business, both here
and in SC, but there's not much going, otherwise.

So, we went to the jetty a bit later than I wanted, to find that the
only ticket available was a "standing" ticket, which meant staying on
deck (we could sit on whatever was around, actually), instead of an
airconditioned space. I was very annoyed, since we'd dawdled up the
road, giving lots of locals rides as the car carried me along. But then
I compared it to the dive trip the previous day, and decided a few
more hours of being hot and sweaty was preferable to being cold and wet.

I coped with getting me and my baggage off the boat, and into an auto
rickshaw, without feeling hassled, took care of my business in town and
came to the Megapode Nest hotel, which is the top-of-the-line hotel in
Port Blair. It's got the same old spigot and bucket in the bathroom, in
case of need, and a candle, holder and matches, in case of power
failure. Bringing both a small flashlight and my headlight was the
right thing. I have to get up early again to catch the one
complimentary airport bus, but it's only a little earlier then I would
go anyway. Tomorrow, I should be able to actually post this using the
free wireless internet at MAA. But what else will go slightly wrong?

The bathrooms on this trip are definitely going to influence the
bathroom I'm putting in at home. That is not something I expected to
get from this trip.

I have more bug bites then I can count, but they only itch a little, not
like from last years Canadian Maritimes trip, and my feet are no longer
swollen. And I'm at the stage of the trip when I want to go home now,
but that will pass, and soon I expect to feel as if I could travel forever.

Hm, I was thinking that I'd been negative about this trip, but don't see
that in my messages, particularly. I paid attention when being escorted
through the airport fomralities before, so this time was easily able to
do it with no missteps. I'm very early, of course, having done almost
everything here more than two hours before the flight.

Clearly the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a separate country- I have
stamps in my passport for entry and exit from these islands now.

It's now 8:17 local, Wednesday. I have no idea what timestamps these
are getting on LJ, since my computer is running on GMT, and my SMTP
server is somewhere in the US.

Well, about half the hall just got into line (actually, two, one for
women and one for men), and then were dispersed by an official.

I'm just finishing _Freakonomics_, a book in which an economist looks at
the real numbers behind a number of real life phenomena. It's
interesting, and a little eye-opening. I'd like to read some criticism
of it, though. It was a pass-on from my diving buddy, Vanessa, and I
wish I'd read it sooner to chat about it with her, since she teaches middle school in the UK, when not traveling for a year.

Update 08:30 Thursday- I was having no luck connecting at Chennai Airport, nor finding a wifi spot in the city, so who knows when this will go out. I had onion oothapam for breakfast, another new favorite.
And I've started having lassi for breakfast, too. I don't recall if I thought it was spelled igli, or if that was a typo, but I certainly know now. When diving, I was getting a packed breakfast, and French toast was the easiest to handle.
It's hot enough here so even the locals are complaining about the heat wave. I'll be doing a tour of the city on an non-AC bus this morning, so expect to be fried.
on NB

Chennai - auto row

I did the bus tour of the city, which only had a few stops, and didn't
make one I'd hoped for. I was temporarily adopted, by three pre-teen
girls, into the extended family that occupied most of the minibus, so
that was pretty good. But the traffic!! Even just riding in a minibus
I was shattered by it. And I've now been behind a bullock cart in a
traffic circle. We got to the government museum, and their bronzes are
magnificent. I didn't quite figure out Bhadrakali, though. It's Kali
with 8 arms, that's clear. But we didn't get to the Fort Museum, and
it's closed tomorrow (Friday). Feh.

This hotel is OK, although the AC is struggling to keep it cool enough
in here. It was failing until I realized that the bathroom is open to
the outside, and the door to it wasn't staying shut.
Thanks to the Deccan Chronicle, it now is jammed shut. The newspaper is
modeled on some of the British papers, but with a a few pages of
international news from AP and the NY Times and is delivered daily to
the room.
The hotel seems to be in the heart of auto row here, and you can get
bull bars, stereos and sunroofs installed within a few yards of here.
But there's a couple of bookstores within walking distance, a reasonable
internet "cafe", and a very good vegetarian restaurant called
Annalakshimi, for a fine dining experience. So now my baggage will be
another kilo overweight, and I'll never eat again. I can also get 4
liters of bottled water for 32 rupees right outside. Good thing, too.
Rare is the meal at which I don't consume a liter. And I keep trying to
absorb more through my skin by taking lots of showers. I think I used
up a liter in the walk to the bookstore and dinner and back. I am
staying hydrated.

The street in front is apparently nominally one-way, but two wheelers
regularly go contraflow, and the occasional three wheeler. And there's
little sidewalk, with what there is being mostly taken up by groups of
people hanging out. I'd expected the large number of people to be a
problem for me, but it's the motor vehicles that get to me most. This
is not a good place for someone who dislikes motor vehicles.

I realized that writing this blog is my way of keeping in touch with all
my friends who will read this, and when traveling alone, that helps a
lot. I've pretty well got the mechanical parts of traveling single down
pat, but... I'm having dinner with friends tomorrow evening for another

written at 21:30 Thursday evening local time, 16:00 GMT.

Friday early evening: I went to the Theosophical Society to see the largest banyan tree. The guidebook steered me wrong, but my driver straightened me out, so I let him take me to a very nice shop, where I bought a couple of small carvings of Ganesh. I probably paid too much, but....
I can't get in touch with my friends, so will just go to the rendezvous.
It's listed as a good place to eat in the guidebook with friendly helpful staff, so it won't be a big loss if they don't turn up.

I see that the weather in Delhi is even hotter than here, but I can hope by the time I get there it'll be a little better.