Pondicherry, Diwali, and Delhi

Pretty full post here.  I am a little behind on this blogging stuff.  Here is a run-down of what has been happening the last week or so:

I wrapped up my South India trip in Pondicherry, a city that was a French colony up until about 50 years or so.  Not surprisingly, it reminds me of France.  It has a “French Quarter”, French food, and most of the street signs are in French.  There are even locals that speak the language.  It is pretty weird talking to an Indian in French.  This is by far the cleanest Indian city I have been to.

Then back to Hyderabad again to my friend Nitin’s house.  This is my second stint at his family’s place.  It has been an honour and a pleasure to visit with these people. I got to live with them, eat their homemade food (awesome!), see how they live, etc.  Culturally, to get such experiences in a foreign country is the “holy grail” of any traveler.  Better yet, I got to celebrate Diwali (aka, The Festival of Lights) with them.  For Hindus, this is the biggest festival of the year.  For a western equivalent (as far as importance), think Christmas.

After puja and dinner we went outside to, as Nitin put it, “cause some havoc”.  This is the part of Diwali where people let off a ridiculous amount of fireworks.  For hours we set off fireworks.  Great fun!  From the roof of the house, I watched fireworks over the whole city.  When I went to bed at 1am, they were still going off.  Insane.

These are “atomic bombs”.  I find the picture on the box humorous.  It seems to be a yeti firing a machine gun.  Anyway, the name is pretty appropriate.  These little guys are powerful!

In fact, the first time we lit one off the blast knocked my camera over.  Days later, my hearing is just coming back.

5,000 crackers tied together.  Oh, shit!

Here is video of this one.  The reason the crackers are getting farther away is because I’m retreating and looking for cover.

After Hyderabad, I did a 2-day visit to Delhi.  Man, that city is tight.  The amount of sheer humanity there is astounding.  I checked out a few of the sites such as the Red Fort, Jama Masjid (a mammoth mosque – they allow you to climb one of the minarets, very cool), and Connaught Place (the chaotic centre of Delhi which contains a park at its core).

Main Bazaar, Delhi

Red Fort, Delhi

I just got to Kathmandu yesterday.  I like the feel of this place.  I had an interesting conversation this morning at breakfast.  I was talking to a German guy about Nepal.  He had me figured out in one minute.

He said to me, in a very thick accent:  “You are traveling for a very long time, ya?  You have quit job or studies to travel, ya?”
Me [stunned]:  “Yes!  How did you know?!”
Him [smiling]:  “I can see it in your eyes.”

Huh.  Weird.

Tomorrow I go to the Himalayas to see the greatest mountain range on the planet.  I’m going to do a 3-week trek called the “Annapurna Circuit”.  Talk to you in a few weeks…

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