Friday, February 22, 2008

Day 12. Travel day to Aurangabad

You can see from the previous descriptions that I was not feeling warm and cozy about Udaipur, so to even the score I took an early morning walk through a random neighborhood (and a nice one it turned to be) to remind myself that all people around the world are the same when they are relaxed at home. I then went for brunch to a typical Indian restaurant, where I got an enormous amount of very tasty, but very spicy food for little money. I liberally irrigated the meal with a large bottle of Kingfisher beer, which has become our beverage of choice during this trip. This Indian beer comes in clear, green, or amber bottles (but it is the same beer regardless of the color of the bottle), and for fun we have baffled our waiters by fighting over who gets the green bottle or the amber one.

I returned to the hotel in time to join the group for the ride to the airport, to take the flight to Aurangabad, 800 km to the south. Indian airlines have the reputation for being hours late, so we were getting ready for a grueling day in a hot, stuffy, and decaying facility. Imagine our surprise when we found a brand new terminal (just inaugurated last week) with all possible comforts and security measures (fortunately the airport authority is not related in any way or form to the municipality of Udaipur). And then we found that we were flying not with the state airline, but with Kingfisher Airlines! Yes, the same folks that had brought us our multicolored beer were going to fly us!

The people were all so nice, but there was a moment of unrest when one of the smiling security ladies asked Peter if he had a knife in his hand luggage. With innocent blue eyes Peter said “Ach ja, an kleines Messer”. So he was asked to produced the so called “little knife” and he pulls out this foot-long folding knife! In California this would have been enough to pull the whole group out of the flight, to be roughly inspected and interrogated, but here there were just smiling explanations to the silly tourist about why he couldn’t have his knife on board, and prompt service by the Kingfisher Airlines personnel to bring back the luggage so the offending instrument could be properly stowed.

Flying over India was a delightful experience. For one, it made clear that the green revolution initiated 30 years ago is well under way (but still lacking the key element of irrigation). For other, it gave us a good feeling for how vast and lightly developed is the country side. Truly, there are many untapped resources in this subcontinent.

Our hotel in Aurangabad has beautiful gardens and 30 years ago must have been the apex of luxury. Unfortunately maintenance has lagged behind, so the rooms are a bit shabby. Klaus is of the opinion that management needs a good shake up, and he was ready to provide it when we were informed that our arrangement included meals. Three times he told the waiter that this was not so, but the man remained inflexible and served us the fixed menu (delicious). But then they discovered that no, our arrangement did not include meals, at which point los hermanitos Kobberger played good cop (Gustav) and bad cop (Klaus) and flatly refused to pay for something that had been pressed on us. I fear we have not endeared ourselves with the management.

However, the waiters and cooks remained the image of Indian hospitality, and even invited Chrissy and I to learn how naan bread and many traditional Indian meals are prepared. They use a very large clay pot, about to feet tall and two feet in diameter, inside which a dire is made. The walls and interior of the pot get very hot, and naan is prepared by sticking a flour tortilla against the inside wall, and then letting the heat of the clay pot oven do the cooking. Other traditional dishes, like tandoori chicken and shik kebab are prepared by skewering the meat and resting the skewers in the inside of the pot. Great fun!


Fabs said...

Yum, naan bread made in the bread oven at Jackass sounds like it could be delicious!!

mizliz1 said...

Hello My Friend, Horacio! Faby has sent me the info on your blog and I have greatly enjoyed reading about your adventures! Very exciting! I can't wait to read more!