Saturday, January 12, 2008

Phone-in from Delhi, sunday afternoon!

Hi folks,

Tomorrow afternoon -your time- we'll have a live phone-in at the Tracks world music show of Dee and Rory on Life FM! It's on between 1pm and 2pm GMT time -so that's between 2pm and 3pm for continental Europe, 18.30-19.30 India time etc.-

You can tune in live at Life FM (ofcourse live is better ey! ;)) or listen to the podomatic session later if ye can't catch it.

For now, we're back in Delhi for a few days waiting on our Pakistani visum that -hopefully- is given on monday. After spending 2 days in Ludhiana, we needed to be here yesterday just before the weekend in order to apply for our visum. That we might get it on monday will be quite smooth as well, as it normally takes a few working days -not counting weekends-.

Ludhiana was a quick swoop. Arriving somewhere in the afternoon on a bumpy bus from Amritsar, it wasn't much fun for me as I had gotten some stomach bug -which is still bugging me now-. To carry your heavy luggage and trying to get a riksha that knows the place where you want to get to, while you feel nauseous and trembling, is not the best way to step into an auditorium to see a cultural presentation. As in previous post, we had met Seema in Jalandhar and she invited us to come to Ludhiana for this presentation which was to raise awareness on AIDS among teenage schoolkids. We met her at the auditorium and she made sure that we could leave our bags and get somethings to eat and drink. It was quite well organised and the presentation itself was a mix of various art forms. There was even a kid rock group playing 80's, 90's and modern rock songs. *We will rock you* was the song they started with and we wondered whether it was chosen because of Freddy Mercury or not. We didn't ask either way. After them there was a fahion show of kids who had designed AIDS symbol clothing, paraded by proper models of some fashion college. The bit we liked most was the theater show of younger kids who portrayed a story of a AIDS infected baby girl that was left on the floor outside a hospital. The kids acted with a lot of energy and sung songs together as if in some musical (don't think of the South Park joke now). There was ballet which was nice enough to end it with and the 1,5 hour presentation was over. Seema helped us a great deal (which we thank her heartily for) and took us to a downtown hotel where her cousin worked, so finally I could lay down and slumber away the head and bellyache. The hotelroom looked 'like being in a Lynch movie', as Maarten said. It certainly felt like being in Lost Highway, the bacteria in my belly jostling the effects.

In some way Ludhiana felt like one of the grim cartoon cities, like Sin or Gotham city. We don't know why, perhaps the many overhead roads, narrow and moist back alleys and the sulky greyness of it all. Without intention to speak bad of the locals as they were as friendly as we have experienced allover Punjab.

The next afternoon we went to a Punjabi cultural event next to the same auditorium of the day before. As it would soon be Lohri, a holy Punjabi festival for the farmers -and Punjab IS the farmer's state of India-, this event was organised, even if Lohri really would only begin on the 13th of January. We were told that all the bigger Punjabi pop and folk stars would perform and that for free to all the people of Ludhiana. As soon as we entered the amfitheater that it was held in, all eyes turned to us. We once again being the only foreigners -or at least, whites-, people cheered to us and no sooner than that Maarten was filming big groups of young men dancing before his camera. I tried to record sounds, but as folks kept on talking to me or into the mic it was useless. Someone of the organisation (that we met the day before) with next to him an armed guard with an AK47, intervened into the chaos of guys swarming around me so I could get upfront. It was not so much the men that bothered and angered me, but rather that most were annoyingly drunken...and drunken Indians are impossible to handle in a logical way, like we experienced before -and will do again-.

All that done in the space of a few hours, we left in the early evening so we could get tickets for the night train to Delhi. No sleeper places left, which ment we would have to sit most of night in a crowded wagon. No fun. At the station an attendant told us that we could get a sleeper place, hinting that we would have to pay him a bit for that. And the guys of the train. Bribing, corruption, such bog words. It was rather that they gave us a service that could secure a bed bunk for us. It was ours to take or leave it. So we paid and got a sleeper wagon to lay in. Which was quite empty by the way -while such sleeper places *supposedly* were sold out-. So it was.

At the Pakistani embassy we had to wait. and wait. and wait. That while the stomach bug still bugged me with cramps, again no fun. The morning was wasted between the Pakistani, Dutch and Belgian embassy. We don't like embassies, but after the initial cold rejection at the Pakistani embassy we got smoothly helped by our own embassies whose consulair employees were even open to social chitchat with us, give drinks and let us use the internet. Unlike any official place would do at home, let alone we expected such courtesy from our embassies. We both had to get a certain useless approval letter that in the whole world, only the Pakistani embassy asks for. Well, there is a use for the useless. Just as an addition to your visum request. That's all. The Dutch embassy wrote an official letter than approved Maarten as exisiting citizen. The Belgian embassy wrote a fun letter that stated it doesn't supply such letters on the act of such and such rule. Signed by the ambassador though. But that's indeed what the Pakistani consul wanted; the official proof of signature and print paper. We still have copies of those letters so will take a pic of them and put them here soon enough haha ;)

Ok, waiting our time away in Delhi again and we must admit that after 2,5 months swerving through dusty and muddy cities and remote places, Delhi feels mighty western and -gulp- clean again. The continuous smog also seems to have cleared as it isn't so hot anymore as it was 2,5 months ago -when we hated it here-. Again we are in the world of the western tourist where every Indian shopkeeper is merching western items to please those homesick, or those not wanting to adapt to Indian items. Either way, we're way more at ease here this time, whether bellysick, tired or not.

Soon Pakistan we hope, if the monday morning promise is a true outcome. If that goes well, we should be in Pakistan by tuesday morning. In Lahore that is, the first biggest gateway city into Pakistan. Some of you might think Lahore not being a safe place since the bomb blast a few days ago but we have been assured that tourists are not a target in Pakistan, rather any authority should be very cautious. It's more dangerous to be a local official clerk, police officer or politician in pre-election Pakistan right now than it is to be a simple wandering tourist. Even our embassies couldn't deny that when we questioned them.

Perhaps next post from here or over the border, who knows.
Hope you tune in tomorrow to hear us both talk and blabber about our dwellings here.

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