Saturday, March 2, 2013

Water buffaloes and hog deer and rhinos, oh my!

Mr. ATK and I had the pleasure of hosting Mama ATK and Best Friend ATK (heretofore know as BFATK) for the past two weeks. Now both Mama ATK and BFATK were pretty clear in letting us know that, were it not for us, India would not be a vacation destination for them. As such, I made sure to put some extra love and care into our vacation planning.

First up was a trip to Assam in northeast India.

Note: The arrow is pointing to Assam. Oh the wonders of Microsoft Paint.

Actually, stop. I'm going to back it up for a sec.

Before Mama and BFATK even landed on February 14 (Happy Valentime's!) we had a bit of an issue with the water. You see at approximately 7:15 pm, all the water stopped coming out of our faucets. This was weird because our water tank meter indicated that the tank was 60% full. So why was there no water? Where was the water? At first it started in the kitchen where I was washing dishes (to avoid any Mama ATK dirty dishes criticism.)  Then the water stopped. then I went to check the other faucets and though water initially came out, it slowed to a trickle quickly. Now Mama ATK and BFATK were scheduled to arrive at 9:10 pm and we had to leave for the airport at 8:30 pm. How could I tell them that once they had finally arrived after a 14 hour plane ride that there was no water? Not for bathing, toothbrushing, toilet flushing, nothing.

Mr. ATK, on the other hand, was a little less concerned about the situation. I was like, "We need to call them to come fix this," to which he replied, "Well, you are only supposed to call in an emergency. I'm not sure if this is an emergency." I did not care for this response. I may have snapped a bit when I said, "We have absolutely no functioning running water. If that is not an emergency, then what, exactly, is your definition of a water emergency?" After that, Mr. ATK called and the maintenance folks were here surprisingly quick and fixed the whole problem in a jiffy (the water pump was broken).

So after that whole production, Mama ATK and BFATK arrived without incident and the ride home marked their first exposure to Indian traffic. Mama ATK was a trooper and managed not to gasp or dramatically cover her eyes as the traffic weaved around us, honking maniacally.

Ok, after all this came the trip to Assam (see map above).

First, we had a day Guwahati, the capital of Assam. This was Mama ATK and BFATK's first real exposure to the "real" India, I suppose. They found it very overwhelming. In the words of BFATK, "I don't want to spend the whole day in the hotel room. But, I don't want to go out there, either." We did try to venture out to the Kamakhya Temple, but it was crowded, both with people and monkeys, all of which seemed to intimidate them. After that we spent a lot of time in the hotel bar.

The real purpose of the trip east was to visit Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with two thirds of the worlds one-horned rhinos, and a bunch of other stuff.

A male one-horned rhino
This was pretty much the highlight of the trip as we took three safaris--one on elephant, and two in jeeps--to see all the different wildlife.
Mama ATK and me and our very own forest ranger complete with shotgun on the hunt for rhinos at 6 am.
We saw water buffaloes, and hog deer, swamp deer and one other type of deer that slips my mind at the moment. We saw wild elephants and rhinos (obviously), who occasionally got a little too close for comfort.

Ok, so he's not too close to our jeep, but we did have one rhino (not pictured--we affectionately called him Chargey) give us the side eye when we came around the corner and got a little too close. The driver had to stop the car as we engaged in a stare down with a giant myopic animal (who was armed! with his horn!). The  forest ranger even put a bullet in his gun. luckily, Chargey must've indicated he was backing down, because eventually we started up the car and drove on by without incident.

Let's see other than that, the rest of the trip was good. We went to the Taj Mahal--I believe I'll have seen this thing like 5 times by the time we leave; good thing we get to pay the local ticket prices (40 rupees for Indians, 750 rupees for foreigners.)  I took Mama ATK and BFATK on a bicycle rickshaw tour of Old Delhi one day while Mr. ATK went to work. I wasn't sure they'd enjoy it, but luckily instead of being terrified being in a metal open air carriage being pulled through heavy traffic by a dude on a bicycle, they thought it was fun. So despite not really want to come to India for India's sake, they were game for experiencing all the craziness and were really open minded, making the trip extra awesome.

Some of their observations on India (as observed by me):

  • Lots of honking (I think I wrote my second blog post about that)
  • An abundance of "chip huts"--little stand alone stores in the rural areas, and in cities that sell mainly chips and snacks.
  • RUBBLE! -- BFATK never seemed to get over the amount of rubble everywhere. (Her: "Why is there a pile of bricks there?" Me: "I don't know. Maybe they working on that building" Her: But the building is already finished."
  • The lack of Diet Pepsi in plastic bottles.
Besides that... nothing else is popping out at me. Well, Mama ATK and BFATK, feel free to add more of your observations in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. My observation is that while it all seemed crazy and chaotic to me, it apparently works, I was especially fasinated by the traffic, all the crazy modes of transportation that share the roads, after a short while, the honking makes sense, they are sending each other messages and everyone seems to get to their destinations. I only saw one car accident and of course we were involved in one car accident, which hardly slowed us down at all, and I can say I think Abby and I were nervous when all those guys started surrounding the vehicle, what with you having diplomatic license plates, I thought some kind of shake down could ensue, but no problem the guy admits he made a mistake and we are on our way.
    I had a great time, of course the safari was a blast something I would never have done in my life but thanks to your planning I've had an experience in my old age I never would have guessed I would have. You guys have a lovely apt, and a nice staff who provided us with great service. The grandpup let me down a little bit, I thought we would bond but alas it was not to be, maybe when she isn't a surly teenager she will be open to a grandma from Wisconsin. As always it is always nice spending time with you. Love you, mom
    ps: I think I'm on the road to recovery from whatever came home with me. Dehli belly be gone!!