Sunday, February 24, 2008

Day 13. Pech gehabt!

As I had suspected, we have made powerful enemies. Today in the morning we were treated to a form of Indian voodoo, and found a cut off head in front of our door in the place normally reserved for The Hindustan Times. For a moment I thought it was Gustav’s head pickled in some mysterious Hindu brew! *

I didn’t want to alarm our company, so I kept my mouth shut, but I was not really surprised when we were ready at 9 am in the lobby and our guide and transport didn’t show up. It was indeed very strange that we were left “vestidos y alborotados” because so far our Indian hosts had been very professional. Gustav was fuming! Anyway, after much argument and angry phone calls to Delhi we found out what had happened: It appears that our guide was there at 8:45 am looking for a group of six Germans, had seen a likely group, and had politely asked if this was the group of Dr. Kobberger (OK, so maybe with the Indian accent it didn’t come out quite right, but our demons worked it out the Dr. Gruber had his own party ready to go, so he assumed that the guide had said “Gruber” instead of “Kobberger” and he and his family happily helped themselves to our guide, our bus, and our tour of the city! **

So, new plans were made, and our own tour was rescheduled for 1:00 pm. We were not happy pups, but “al mal viento buena cara”, so Klaus and Peter decided to go for a swim, Aurora decided to go to the salon to have her hair dyed, Chrissy was going to read her book, and Gustav and I went to explore the city. We, Gustav and I, had a good time: We went to a nice bookshop, had a cappuccino, and even treated ourselves to a luxurious interlude with a hooka!

But our black star was not done with us: Aurora was wearing a very nice light pink tee-shirt that she had bought in a trip to Vietnam. She looked great in it, but it was not the proper wear when you are having your hair dyed by a very nice but very inexperienced young woman. She got hair dye smudges all over the tee-shirt, and poor Aurora was close to tears. Pobrecita!

Sooo, realizing that we had angered the local deities I made sure to ask for forgiveness as we came in front of Buddah in the caves of Aurangabad (but more about this tomorrow). That seemed to do the trick, because we has a wonderful afternoon, with visits to the caves and the little Taj Mahal (dubbed by me “el Taj Mahalito).

The building of el Taj Mahalito is an important event in engineering history, so I have to tell you more about it: As you may remember, building the Taj Mahal broke the treasury of the empire, so when the grandson of Shah Jahan decided to build a mausoleum to his mother (he was a mama’s boy), he made a point of soliciting bids, and he made it quite clear that he would go for the low bid. The result was a perfectly serviceable mausoleum, as you can see in the picture, but it was low bid, so instead of marble of Makarana he got some local marble, and instead of the nice stone inlaid work he got some fine plaster work that, alas, has not stood as well the test of time. So, next time you bid for a contract, thank the builders of el Taj Mahalito for the low bid.

In the afternoon we went to look at the water mill, a cool park with several pools and relaxing garden paths. Several school groups were visiting, and for some strange reason one of these groups became fascinated with Aurora, very politely asked for her permission to photograph her, and then proceeded to take photos with her in groups of two or three. Peter got inspired by them and decided to buy her a Maharani chair (although more libidinous minds have now dubbed it the Kama Sutra chair based on one of the illustrations found in the famous love guide).

We wrapped up the day with a visit to modern India, beautifully exemplified by the neighborhood a couple of blocks from the hotel. There are tons of eateries, small cafes, cellular phone stores (Indians LOVE cellular phones), and even a supermarket. The latter was a lot of fun for us, because although we all like buying in the small corner stores, it is hard to look at the wares. Here we could look at our leisure, and as you can see we were all excited about buying exotic spices, teas, and sweet delicacies!

* As it turns out, the head was a beautifully carved melon, that our friendly room service had put by our doorstep to welcome us. Neither Chrissy and Gustav, nor Aurora and Peter, got this treat, so maybe Klaus and I got it as a statement that alternative couples are also welcome in India?

** Guest comment by Dr. G.L.H. Gruber:
Dear readers,

First of let me introduce myself: My name is Dr. G.L.H. Gruber and under normal circumstances I would have never got in contact with this blog or the cattle of individuals who call themselves “de-grouped” (as opposed to grouped U.S.-American tourist groups that occupy every place of potential interest and mess up all the prices). However, in the morning of the 23rd of Feb. 2008, my wife, a couple of friends and myself were having a cup of coffee in the lobby of the famous Ambassador Hotel in Aurangabad as the hotel boy suddenly called may name: “Dr. ….ber”. I lifted my arm, he approached our group and told us that we were invited to have a guided city tour and that the luxury bus was already waiting. Being used to miracles happening in India day by day, we entered the bus and enjoyed a fantastic and professionally guided tour through the city and its touristic highlights. Much later in the course of the trip (after our guide had to answer some repeated calls on his mobile) we discovered that miracles in India were strictly reserved to Indian people. However, we did not feel embarrassed at all and we were grateful for this free experience but would like to send our best wishes and regards to the degrouped group members.

Dr. G.H.L. Gruber and company

1 comment:

Mikaela said...

Glad to hear that you are alive and well after such a terrifying encounter with the melon ball head!