Anyway, it appears we do have some actual news (for real this time): we're going to Jordan! As in Jordan, Middle East. I know that's not right, but it's more exact to say it that way. We leave Monday, and are on the exact same flight to Frankfurt, Germany, and then a four hour flight from there to Amman. It's only a reload, so it should only last 2 weeks, but we've all heard that before. I wasn't sure if I should go because Matt will no doubt be working all the time (probably 12 - 16 hour days) the entire time, and because it's a Muslim country in the Middle East we didn't know how advisable it would be to be walking around half-naked in my t-shirts and jeans alone. After talking to a couple people who've worked there (including one woman), Matt decided that I'll be fine, and I should come with. I'm actually really excited about it because when else will I ever get the chance to visit Jordan?! Come on! I know almost nothing about the country except it's supposed to be an "oasis of peace" nestled in the heartland of unrest. Security will undoubtedly be really tight everywhere, but it's supposed to be really safe. Amman and the surrounding areas are supposed to have some really amazing architectural structures, similar to Rome (that's what Matt said... I haven't actually researched anything myself). Anyway, all in all, it sounds pretty good. If I feel uncomfortable walking around alone, at least the hotel is supposed to be really nice, and if I absolutely hate it, it's only 2 weeks. Plus, I get to rack up those frequent flyer miles!
It has come to my attention that I still need to write a little about our Mumbai trip... where to start? It was nothing like I expected it to be, but it is totally India. All I could think the whole time we were there was what Krishnan (originally from India) said the first time he went to Beijing. He was looking around in awe and he said "If China is 50 years behind the U.S., then India is at least 150 years behind the U.S." That pretty much sums it up. There are some incredible buildings there left over from the British rule, but a lot of them are dilapidated and would surely be condemned in any other country. But in India, people still live in them and are lucky to have them. There is a HUGE gap between the rich and poor, and seemingly no middle class at all. The hotel where we stayed cost more than $100 (that's U.S. dollars, mind you) a night, and was not even close to what you would get for that kind of money in the U.S. I also saw more extreme poverty there than I've ever seen in my life. People literally living on the sidewalks with sheets hanging for "privacy". It is just unbelievable the amount of poverty we saw, and we didn't even go into the "slum" areas. It's hard to describe, really, so I'll just show some pictures.
View from our hotel window. Yeah, it's pretty polluted, but not as bad as Beijing.
This really cool building is falling apart but is still very much in use.
That said, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We did the walking tour from the Lonely Planet and just about died from the heat, but it was fun anyway. We took the train once and would have taken it again except we didn't realize there are women's cars and men's cars and subsequently hopped on the wrong one right at the start and Matt got yelled at. The women told him to get off at the next stop, but then one woman took pity on him and said that because we were going such a short distance we could just ride the women's car all the way. She said "I don't think it matters if no one has a problem with it." We could tell some of the other ladies in the car did in fact have a problem with it, but she was insistent, so he stayed. That pretty much did us in on the train though, so we took taxis from there on out.
These are two views of the High Court in Mumbai. There are guards with rifles pointed a foot from your face at every entrance. They don't mess around.
We found a fabulous store called Fabindia on our second day that sells incredible fabrics, scarves, clothing and house linens... and because we still had about 20,000 rupees in cash burning a hole in Matt's pocket, we couldn't help but cash some of it in there. We could have bought so much more but didn't because we still don't have a house. Don't worry, they have a website, so we fully intend to furnish our house from there. Also, I searched in vain for pants, but all the pants looked really dumb on me. I don't think I fit into the "baggy chic" style Indian women are so fond of. They look great. I look like I pooped my pants.
Just a few of the many cushion covers we bought, along with our bedspread from Baroda.
I haven't uploaded pictures from our third day's excursion yet, so I'll spare you that description for today. Don't worry, you'll get it later. Matt's going to the doctor today (finally) so hopefully he can get his illness cleared up before our next flight. I doubt it, but it's worth a try. Sorry again about the joke. I'll try to be more gentle next year.