Tag Archives: line

Zip it…………

Many expats will tell you that they key to surviving Delhi is occasionally leaving Delhi. And one of the first places they will tell you about is Neemrana Fort. It is about a 2-hour drive from Delhi (of course, that is depending on traffic, so that is a give or take 5 hours guesstimate.). The Fort was built in 1464 AD and it still feels pretty authentic. That sounded kind of silly, huh? How would I know if it was authentic, right? So, maybe I should say it seems like it feels like a fort might have felt a trillion years ago.

The fort boasts 10 levels of the best hide-and-go-seek land in India and is really just a lot of fun. But just so you know, ten levels means lots and lots of stairs! Comfy shoes ladies! Neemrana claims to have all the accommodations of a 5-star hotel – I am not completely sure about that. It has a absolutely different feel than a Ritz or Oberoi – but it is magnificent in its own right. It is certainly clean enough and the food is safe to eat – but it’s not really what I would call fancy schmancy. Of course, to be fair, it’s no Motel 6 either.

The rooms have a nostalgic air about them – with the added benefit of a/c and lights. But the windows are not sealed perfectly. Windows are surely not part of the authentic atmosphere of the fort – but if you are going to claim 5-star status, you might want to add a window here and there. Because the windows are not super air tight, mosquitoes do sneak in – so bring bug spray.

The rooms all have names rather than room numbers and padlocks instead of key cards. Super, super charming. Most of the rooms have patios or balconies with spectacular views of quaint “downtown” Neemrana.

There are also a few activities you can enjoy during your stay.

Every afternoon at 5p, there is a tea/biscuits serving on one of the rooftops. Immediately following the tea, they open a cash bar and this guy performs with his wife. At least, I think it was his wife, she kept her face covered the whole time so I don’t really know for sure who was under there.

You can also ride a camel down to a 9-story step well. This is a pretty cool thing to do. It takes about an hour. If it’s hot, I would recommend not doing this in the middle of the day. Two people can ride each camel and I believe they can get up to 3 camels at a time. So, if this is something you are interested in doing, definitely make reservations at the hotel office. And if remember correctly, the cost of this was 200 rupees per person. Seriously, how can you pass that up?

This guy hangs out near the camels. While he might be their BFF, you can absolutely take my word for it that he is not on the welcoming committee. He apparently had not had his cup of coffee yet and was none too happy to see us. So, if you see him near the camels – steer clear – tee hee – get it? Steer clear! Isn’t he charming? I couldn’t swear to it, but I think this guy was giving me the horn. 😉

This step well is where they dug and dug and dug some more for water. It goes down deep – nine stories – hence the very clever name – 9-story step well. And if you go down, just remember, what goes down must come up. Have a good breakfast first! You are gonna burn some calories!

Coming back up the 9 stories of steps.

You will pass by these villagers on your way to the fort. Some of the children called out for candy. If I did this again, I would definitely put a few lollipops in my pocket.

And then there is the flying fox zip line. This is uber fun and you won’t want to miss it. Kids have to be 10 years old to do it (unless your parents are willing to fib a little). And think twice about doing this if you are pregnant or really, really out of shape. I did it – so that sets the physical fitness bar pretty way down low but it is a good 20 minutes of hiking up a (very) steep hill. You get a resting break every 10 minutes or whenever you need it. But the reward is well worth the trek! And the early morning suggestion absolutely applies here too. This is not something you want to do in the middle of the day heat. They do give you (safe) drinking water to take with you.

This is me bringing up the rear making sure my kids safely make it up ahead of me and that no child gets left behind.

First you get a little training session. How to start, stop, and not fall off the zip line – all the things you’ll want to know before you jump off the side of a very big hill attached to a wire and absolutely nothing else.

And then you zip through the air like a flying fox. And you get to do it 5 times on 5 different lines. And if you anything like me, you are now thinking – “holy zip, batman, does that mean I have to hike up that hill 5 times?” Luckily, one climb up one big arse hill does equal 5 zips. You go up once and zig zag back down.

And the view is great from the top.

And, as with everywhere I go, there were gorgeous flowers every time I turned around.

And this guy jogging his donkeys round and round and round made me feel like I was walking through a National Geographic movie.

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you might remember that sometimes I add a “girlfriend’s guide” to the places we visit. Well here are some tips that might prove helpful…..

All of the meals are served as buffets (kind of expensive especially if your kids prefer plain pasta). Ask for the menu. They do not offer it to you and do not advertise the fact that there is one. But I have heard the french fries are yummy.

The rooms do not have tv, which is absolutely wonderful – unless you your kids are expecting a tv. Bring a deck of cards or a few board games. You won’t miss the tv a bit.

Bring a bathing suit – there is a pool and it’s likely to be hot.

Bring bug spray.

Bring some candles so you can experience what it would have been like at night in the rooms of the fort. Just remember to blow them out before you go to bed. If you actually want to light the candles, bring matches.

When you check out, check your bill carefully. We had a couple of charges that were not ours – that could have totally been an accidental one-time thing – but just in case.

When you check out and leave the entrance with suitcases, they will ask to see your receipt that you have paid the bill. Just have it handy.

Don’t miss the gift shop on the way out. It’s got lots of fun and different stuff in it that isn’t outrageously overpriced.

The literature tells you that you are not allowed to bring your own wine/alcohol into the property. This is where my philosophy of asking forgiveness rather than permission works very well. I didn’t find the wine list to be fantastic or reasonably priced at all – if I remember correctly, your only option is to buy the entire bottle of expensive, not yummy wine. So, do with that info what you will.

Wear comfortable shoes – there is a lot of walking up and down narrow stair cases – which is very fun – but not exactly conducive to high heeled shoes.

Have fun!

Hook, Line, and Sneakers…………..

Literally hours before we left the U.S. to return to Delhi from Christmas break, I heard about the new Sketchers Shape Up tennis shoe.

They are supposed to tone your butt, improve your posture, and help you lose weight. What’s not to love, right?

I did not have a lot of time to do research to find out how good they really were and knew that it was very unlikely that I would find them in Delhi – so being the true impulse shopper that I am, I rushed to the store to get a pair.

Now, if you really want to feel old, go shopping in a hurry at a trendy sports store that employs only teenagers who feel like they are waiting on their mother or possibly their grandmother and are somewhat unamused by the (old) lady who thinks she is quite funny. Let’s just say that I didn’t get any new blog readers at Modells. But I did get a new pair of tennis shoes. Mine are solid black just in case you are curious.

I was going to show you the before and after picture to tout my success with my new sneakers. But right now the after picture is pretty much still the before picture. 😉 I might need to reread the instructions though, because they don’t seem to work too well in the box. I guess they might be more effective if they spent more time on my feet and my feet spent more time moving.

Have no fear though, I will certainly let you know how they work.

You’ve Got Mail………….

Have you ever been to a Post office in Delhi? Walk with me stand in line with me as I share my experience today.mailman on bike

I needed to mail a few things to locations around Delhi, which is unusual. Most people here have drivers and so, more often than not, we just send our drivers off with the things we want delivered. And we sit all comfy cozy in our pjs while our driver maneuvers thru traffic and crowds and runs many of our errands for us. It’s lovely really. And yes, it is absolutely amazing that it is actually more practical to have things hand-delivered than to use the mail system. But such is life.

My driver, as fantastic as he is, does not speak great English, so today I wasn’t confident that I could properly explain what I wanted done. You might think – really – your driver wouldn’t understand the simple instructions of “take these packages to that post office and mail them”. Really? Yup, really! It does not mean Khan is not a smart guy – in fact, I think he’s pretty smart – but it does mean that I did not feel confident that I could explain exactly what I wanted done and that it would get done.

And isn’t that lucky for you – because now you will know what it is like (at least what it was like for me) to go to the post office in Delhi.

First a little background – forget what you might know about the American mail system. It’s a wee bit different here. For example, there really aren’t mail trucks. There are mail bikes. Yes, that is right – bicycles. The postman rides through the neighborhood with mail strapped on to the back of his bike. It’s not exactly the Pony Express – but it isn’t quite FedEx either. You kind of cross your fingers and wish upon a star. Sometimes it works amazingly well – sometimes, not so much.

Knowing that I wanted these packages to arrive sooner than later, I decided to go to to one of the Head Post Offices – rather than one of the smaller offices that most neighborhoods offer. I believe there are 7 of these “head” offices in Delhi. I went to the one near JorBagh. By going to the larger “central” post office, I am hoping that I could cut off about two days of transit time from the smaller branch to the central processing branch. We’ll see how well that works out.

Before I headed over to the post office, I tried to look up on-line some information about their hours, locations, processes – you know, find out when to go where and what to expect when I got there. I never found a website that showed the hours. Just a few sites that would tell me the postal codes for the post office locations. I am not sure how it is helpful to know what the zip codes for the actual post offices are, but if you need to know, you can find that on-line. Other than that, you won’t find too many other (helpful) details. At least I did not.

So, I took a chance that they would be open today (Wednesday) at 12:30ish. They were. I walked in and looked around. There was a small window in the entrance way – but that seemed too easy – so I headed further back to the larger, busier area. There were several lines but I didn’t see any signs that explained what they were for. And there were no “take a number” stations. So, I got in the shortest line thinking that at least if it was the wrong line I would waste the least amount of time waiting. I am wicked smart like that.

In the way that I am very used to, I created and then stood behind that imaginary line that westerners like to draw on the ground to politely wait their turn. Respecting the privacy of the person in front of them and all that jazz. However, four people went up to the counter in front of me. One at a time, looking at me first, completely dismissing the fact that I might be in line, and then waiting for their own turn – now ahead of me. Interesting, right?

In the U.S., I would have very quickly pointed out to them that I was in fact in line – I would have explained to them that the line starts here – behind the imaginary line – behind me – I would have asked how they didn’t know about “the line” – I would have reminded them that everything you need to know you did learn in kindergarten – and I would have reclaimed my “next in line” status.

But I am not in Kansas anymore and I really was not sure what was going on. I really, truly could not bring myself to believe that all those people just cut in front of me. I let myself assume that they were all related – that they were there together.

But the seemingly new line was a wide line with people adding out to it from both sides. It was not the line I know and love – single file, straight back behind the leader of the line. It was becoming clear that a new line was forming down the width of the counter rather than behind me and the shortest line had now become the longest widest line.

Then I heard. “Pssssssst.”

And then, “Excuse me ma’am,” and this woman is laughing a little bit – not really at me – but, okay actually, at me. She said, “If you want a turn, you are going to have to push your way thru to the front of the line. Go ahead and get up there.”

Me: So, all those people just cut in front of me?
Her: Yes, I am afraid so.
Me: You don’t think they are related? Here together.
Her: No. I really don’t.
Me: Is that really what just happened? They ALL just cut in front of me?
Her: Yes, you’ll need to get up there. What are you here to do?
Me: I want to mail these packages.
Her: Speed post or regular post?
Me: Uhhhhhhh
Her: Speed post is faster.
Me: Then I want speed post.
Her: You are in the wrong line altogether – move over here.
Me: Thank you so much!

Personal space in India doesn’t mean the same thing as it means to me. Actually it doesn’t mean diddly squat. There is no such thing. The line was 6 people deep, but we were all within 3 or 4 feet of each other. It was a postal line sandwich. Smooshy. Twins aren’t that close to each other in the womb. And it’s still hot here so sometimes people still smell a little fragrant from being outside. Holy, standing on top of me, batman. But at least I am in the right line – I know what to ask for – speed post – it’s all good, right?

How did you know it was not? Did you read ahead?

Apparently that particular line closed at 1:30p. Good to know – except they never announced it – never put out a sign indicating who would be last. The guy just finished with the person two ahead of me and got up and walked way. And it was frankly 1:26p. Not yet 1:30p. There was still time to help me for stamp’s sake.

Then my little post office angel came over again, still snickering. Not at me, okay, yes, she was still laughing at me. But that is okay – you can laugh at me all you want if you are helping me with this process. Laugh away.

Her: They just closed the window. You’ll need to move to the next line over.
Me: You are kidding right? That line has a lot of people in it. Can they explain that I have been waiting?
Her: No – it closed at 1:30p. Just turn around and hand your envelopes to the man at the window behind you.
Me: There are at least 10 people in that line.
Her: Sure, sure – it’s fine – just do it. Push your way through. Hand him your envelopes.

So that is what I did. I effectively cut in front of about 10 people and handed my things to the man behind the window. No one complained. Actually I recognized most of them. They had been in my line but they moved when they realized the first window was closing. But none of them told me. No, that wasn’t very nice.

The guy in the new window was kind of laughing at me too – in a “you’re a dingbat and I feel sorry for you so I am going to help you” sort of way. Again, I am good with that.

The post man took all my envelopes and asked me if I wanted speed post. Of course, I do, I said very knowingly, – I think I was (not) very convincing that I knew what I was doing.

He stuck stickers on all the envelopes. Then he weighed them one by one and typed in a good portion of the address onto his computer as to  where it was going, calculated the postage, and printed new stickers. It took about 10 minutes. The people in the line behind beside me all waited patiently, some had their mail out to be processed, but most just waited.

The total bill for about twelve 9×12 envelopes loaded down with flyers and invitaions – $3. I marvel how that entire process can only be worth $3. I am not going to question it – but I am going to wish I may, wish I might, wish upon the first star I see tonight – that the mail actually gets delivered.

As I walked out, I once again saw my little angel. She was still smiling and I thanked her profusely. Thank God for the kindness of strangers.

In a huff……….

I was in the grocery store yesterday and had a shopping cart full of junk very useful items that I very much needed wanted. I was wheeling my overloaded cart to the checkout counter and was cut-off by a fellow shopper. It felt like I was in the roller derby of shopping carts. Knee pads and helmets recommended. Shopper “x” was apparently in a hurry. Hmpf.

shopping cart

Seriously, she saw me going for the line. She pushed her cart faster just to beat me. Hmpf. Her son looked a little nervous – he knew what his mother had done. He was not exactly hoping for a mommy brawl in the check out line. Hmpf.

To brawl or not to brawl? I decided to not say a thing. Grand scheme of things and all that jazz. So, I start unloading my cart in another line (without even mumbling at her under my breath) and noticed that she has put items back in her cart and was moving to another line. Really, that is just unnecessary. You basically push me out of the way, just to move to another line? Seriously? Hmpf. At least that is what I thought until I looked up at the sign above her lane – 12 items or less.

Karma is alive and well.

You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling……..

Today, with no one but me to do laundry, I actually folded some clothes. I opened my daughters’ dresser drawer to put away a shirt – I shifted some things around to make room – and I was almost knocked over by the softest, gentlest breeze of fresh air I have ever felt and smelled. I swear it whisked my bangs away from my eyes. My head tilted back. My eyes closed. My imagination took me across oceans. There might have even been angels singing. Oh heaven. The commercials are true! Fabric softener does make your clothes smell like a spring breeze.I might just buy stock in Downy.

There must have been something in that drawer that my daughters have decided is not India worthy. It has been left unworn, untainted at the bottom of their drawer. And it is the only thing we have left that still smells like home. (Well, to be fair, the cat litter still smells the same – but somehow it just doesn’t compare.)

Our bath towels have long ago lost the softness and smell of home – their loving feeling. Now I get my loofa scrub when I get out of the shower and dry off with a towel that has been hung out to dry.

So I stood at the drawer for a minute and I thought. Think. Think. Think. There must be something I can do. So I decided to conduct a little experiment.

My blog friend at Mr. Smith Goes to Delhi had told me that dryer sheets were hard to find here. But what she didn’t say was dryers were harder to find. So, I did bring some dryer sheets with me. But, alas, we don’t have a dryer – well, unless you call God sneezing a dryer, but at least we don’t have a dryer that utilizes dryer sheets. So, they have sat unused on top of our washer. Until today. I put two in the washer with my towels. They did come out smelling nicer than they have been smelling. They are drying now and I will let you know how it goes.

P.S. I know some of you are thinking – they have fabric softener in Delhi – just buy some of that. Here is where you have to have lived somewhere that has a Tide laundry detergent/Downy fabric softener combination available to use with your laundry. And you have to have been somewhere where dryers aren’t uncommon. And you have to have smelled clothes that come out of the dryer toasty warm smelling of that combination. It’s similar to fresh bread coming out of the oven – except it’s fresh bread that you can wrap around your body. Soft, warm, spongy fresh bread with melted butter on it. And your doctor just insisted that you must stop the ridiculous dieting right now and gain 5 pounds already. See what I mean? Heaven!

And, yes, I have seen Tide here. But it comes in very small packages and it is expensive. So, please remember, I have three children who would like to go to college at some point. India has convinced them that being homeless is not the career path they hope to follow. So they might have to suffer through scratchy clothes in order for us to pay tuition. If I decide they aren’t actually college material, bring on the Tide – but that is yet to be determined.