Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday, March 14

It’s been a frustrating day. We weren’t able to get mobiles & sim cards yesterday because they want proof of India residency to get the sim card, or a letter from the hotel saying we’re staying there. But the shops were getting ready to close so we didn’t’ get a chance to go back, and they’re closed on Sunday.

The Internet is extremely slow & unreliable in the hotel rooms, so we’ve been working out of the business office, which is only slightly better. It’s hit or miss, and usually takes multiple attempts to send an e-mail. We got a driver and drove around looking for other hotels with better Internet connection, trying ATMs (I was unsuccessful in getting rupees at the 4 ATMs I tried), and just seeing the sights.

While we were looking at a couple of historical monuments, several Indian guys stopped us, wanting to take pictures of Jim. They always seem to talk to Jim only – it’s like I don’t exist. One guy was ready to punch in Jim’s phone number on his cell so he could call him in the U.S. (Jim didn’t give it to him). The tourism police (that’s how he introduced himself) wanted Jim’s feedback on what he thought of the monument. And when we had dinner at the hotel restaurant, the waiter gave Jim a menu & papadum (a thin Indian crispy snack), and not me! It’s very annoying, although I know that’s the culture here, and they’re fascinated by foreigners.

And seeing as how we’re here for water & sanitation development, I thought I’d mention a few observations on the bathroom. There is a small step going down into the bathroom, which I always forget about & end up stumbling into the bathroom. There are mothballs in all of the drains, but this is where a poor sense of smell works to my advantage. Above the shower is a water heater, with a switch by the bathroom door, which has to be turned on 20 minutes prior to taking a shower (but only if you want hot water).

Tomorrow is a big political rally for the prime minister of Uttar Pradesh (a woman, ironically). It’s like a national holiday – businesses and banks are closed, and many roads are blocked off. We may just work from the business center here. We were finally successful in sending a few requests out for meetings, and hopefully will hear back soon. We’ll also attempt again to find an ATM where I can get some rupees, and get some mobiles & sim cards (the smaller shops may be open).

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