Archive for May, 2011

Golden Temple – evening

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Returning to the Golden Temple in the evening was slightly underwhelming (which has no relation to the rest of this post)

As I approached the temple I heard a “Helloooo” which I ignored. A quick glance to my left revealed an Indian man now walking in stride with me. Then came the second “Heelloooo”.

Now decision time.

Do I continue to ignore him or do I embark on my usual my name is Nick, I live in India, I’ve lived here for 3 years etc routine?

My good nature won through and below is the abbreviated conversation:

Me: “Hello”

Stranger: “Hello, my name is Senthil, what is your name?”

Me: “Hello Senthil, my name is Nick”

Senthil: “ohhh, where are your from?”

Me: “I’m from UK but I live in Chennai”

Senthil: “Ohhh, and do you like it?”

Me: “Yes, Senthil, I like it”

Senthil: “Do you want to sit down?”

Me” No, I just want to go inside the Golden Temple thanks”

Senthil: “ohhh”

(Pause)

Senthil: “I’m gaaaaaaaaaay”

Me: “OK, well I’m not”

Senthil: “ohhhhh, ok byeeee”

Me: “Bye”

 

Amritsar Massacre

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Amritsar is famous for the Sikh Golden Temple and the Amritsar Massacre by the British.

I have vivid memories of being 12 years old, being taught about the Massacre in History class at school – I can even remember which classroom and which desk I was sitting at. It never crossed my mind that I would ever visit the scene of the atrocity.

For those who don’t know, the massacre occurred when British troops opened fire on unarmed civilians trapped in a garden area – such was the panic to escape the rain of bullets over 100 jumped into a well – know known as “Martyrs Well”. British Officials put the death rate at under 400, Indian Officials at over 1000.

It was quite humbling and slightly embarrassing to walk around the Gardens knowing what my ancestors had done, the feeling was compounded by the fact I was one of the only Westerners there – let alone British.

Armitsar

Armitsar

Amritsar

Amritsar

The Golden Temple

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I arrived in Amritsar with not enough underwear for my trip and a hangover.  I was slightly shocked to learn the first opportunity my hotel was offering to see the Golden Temple would be at a 4am – giving me only a few hours to come back to my senses.

This was my second Golden temple in a matter of weeks and my second dip in Holy water in weeks – but if anything was gonna cure my hangover it was Holy water.

The first thing that struck me in the Golden Temple was the Sikhs. Aside from the swords and bayonet type weapons many were carrying – they were huge. I have been told that Sikhs have a history of being warriors as they have faced foreign aggressors from India’s Norther borders, including China –  hence their formidable size.

Lucky it wasn’t Tamils defending, otherwise I may be running an Apple products factory rather than an IT company.

The Golden Temple is the most Holy place in the Sikh religion – thousands flock there daily and are all fed and housed for free (I have read 30,000 people are fed each day). As I was there so early I was able to witness the procession of the Sikh Holy book out of the Inner Sanctum of the Golden Temple by Sikh Holy Men.

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Varanasi

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

I visited Varanasi in April to deliver a laptop to a family for Ram as the bureaucracy of the Indian postal service was preventing it from being shipped.

Or as those in Varanasi told me – Destiny and the Ganges called me.

Varanasi is situated in the North of India, on the banks of the Holy river Ganges and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is how I imagined Chennai would be before I arrived.

The Ganges is considered a pilgrimage destination for all Hindus once in their life. It is even possible to rent rooms to die in the city, such is its importance.

A short blog post wont really do it justice but 4 events are worth telling.

  1. Traveling up the Ganges by boat, seeing family’s bathe in the holy water. At either end of the “Ghats” (steps that face the river bank) are funeral pyres which for 2000rps you can be cremated on. Alternatively there is a industrial cremation service for much less.
  2. Watching the nightly “Aarthi” performance to the river Ganges. Aarthi is similar to what is known as a “Pooja” in the south – a religious ceremony with incense. The syncronised performance with incense, candles and chanting whilst facing the river is quite moving.
  3. With the help of a Hindu priest, being snuck into the Hindu Golden Temple – which is out of bounds for non-Hindus (no photos from this obviously)
  4. Unwittingly spending a large sum of money on silk shawls and duvet covers. Female friends and family – your Birthday and Christmas gifts for the year are sorted.

 

Alley

Alley

House

PC

Ghat

Western Ghat

Aarthi

Aarthi

Amusing Signs part Deux.

Saturday, May 21st, 2011
Moss

Like what you've done there...

cease fire

Interesting use of that phrase..

kokaine

"So, I've got a name for a shop..."

Arse

Father Ted would be proud

Diet Water

Less Calories? Reduced Fat?