Today was our city tour. We went to a couple of temples, had strangers drink my water, saw some bodies cremated, talked with a naked monk, ate with MPs, saw several monkeys (one of which was wearing a skirt), and watched a snake charmer. Yes, I said naked monk.
Ba'hai Temple - After we got back from the temple, I noticed that my water bottle was not where I had left it in our tour bus, and the cap was half open. (don't get the wrong impression - tour bus means it hold 14, including the driver and passenger) After our next stop, we got back in, and my water bottle was more than half empty! I couldn't believe it - the drivers had been drinking my water while I was looking at sites. In this culture, it is not rude at all to ask someone for water, even from their water bottle. But I was ticked that I wasn't even asked. Culture shock experience #593: get over it!
Crematorium - our tour guide (a cousin) told us we could take pictures. The family members of the cremated did not like this too much. It was pretty interesting, and sad, to see them perform rituals and chant prayers in vain.
Traffic - on our way to the see a huge fort, we hit a major traffic jam. Words can't describe for you the commotion. There must have been 200 cars in this clogup, and who knows how many bicycles, carts, motorcycles, and pedestrians. Men were trying to direct, so they'd bang on your car to get your attention. Everyone was honking their horns to no avail. Cars were pointed north, south, east, and west. It was a state of mass confusion. We must've sat there for a good 20 minutes without really moving anywhere. In this city, if there's an inch of space, cars will fit in there, so we did move, but it was pointless. Then, out of nowhere, we honked and pulled a 3 point turn. I mean, picture that. In a layer of probably 10 car/bikes/carts on each side, and probably 50 in front and behind us, all of which are facing every which way, and here we are in this "huge" tour bus, conducting a 3 point turn. The funny thing is, we pulled it off. The other funny part was, when we began turning around, my husband asked our guide, "What's happening?" and the guide simply shrugged, and said, "There's some traffic."
Naked monk - OK, the curiosity I'm sure you've all been waiting for. Our 2nd temple was Jain. Our guide told us there are monks there who deny themselves water and food, except once a day, go naked, and torture themselves by pulling out their hair. We were walking around the area, and were actually allowed to go in and talk to a monk. So we went up to his room, and there he was, all scrawny and little, perched on his cot in a meditation pose, butt naked. I mean, not a lick of clothing on this guy. I'm sorry, I'm just not mature enough to handle this. He invited us to sit down in front of him, so we all did, and the 8th grade boy inside of me found the extreme humor in this. One girl and I couldn't make eye contact because everytime we did, we started giggling. And we are the two married ones. This monk had no shame in spreading his legs, sitting Indian style, or getting up and walking around. It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen, a naked monk with a bunch of coworkers sitting around him, pretending there was nothing unusual with the situation. Then he invited us to ask him questions. My husband asked a lot, but no one asked why he was naked. I think I finally figured out why. The answer is obvious: it's just so dang hot here. Anyway, at the end, he invited us to take pictures (oh yes, I got plenty) and my husband wanted one taken with him. He sat down on his cot, and this made the guy and his followers flip out, so then my husband had to squat to take the picture. After it was over, the monk told a prophesy to our guide about my husband: "Your wife is very angry. Obey her or she will leave you." So weird!!
Lunch - we had lunch at some parliament cafeteria. We sat down, and turns out, our table mates were MPs. Another guy at lunch told me and James that other than Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, we were the "handsomest" couple he'd ever seen from America. Too bad they haven't been a couple now for 4 years. Maybe Tom wouldn't obey an angry Nicole, so she left him.
Sikh temple - we went to a Sikh temple. Nothing too interesting.
Last thing we did was go to a major memorial here in the city. It's a very touristy area, and the people here will do anything to get the tourists' money. Our guide told us when we get there, a man with a snake and a man with dancing monkeys will try to get us to take a picture and then charge us for the picture. (that we take with our own camera!) Sure enough, our big Tour bus pulls to the curb, and a man runs over with his basket, sits down, plays some instrument, and this cobra comes out. He's shouting at us to take a picture. Then a man runs over with two monkeys, one in a pink dress, and plays a drum and they dance. He's pushing us to take a picture as well. We didn't, but it was still pretty entertaining.
Okay so that brings me here, tired, sore, hot, and glad to be home!