India: It's Different This Time Around

It's palpably different this time around.

I'm here for a week, not six or seven.  I'm the only one here from the Chicago office.  Time in the hotel and visiting with friends here is minimal, because when I'm around, I'm typically on the phone with the US or pounding out emails.

The sun is gone and the clouds are here instead.  Monsoon has arrived! (More on that in a separate post).

Little things are different, too, like no peanut butter to accompany the bananas at breakfast.  Sliced bananas look so lonely without a protein spread!  Apparently someone has a nut allergy around these parts.

Work days are legitimately two shifts, India for 9 hours and then Chicago for another 5 or 8.  In fact, I'm killing time right now waiting for another conference call to start at 12:30 am local time.

"Itabeaboutabidnessmattah."  That's in reference to a bad joke in our house and among close friends, which was started by Matt years ago.  But it's a perfect way to describe this fast and furious trip.

I actually got kind of sad this afternoon and felt as though my interest in India might be waning.  There has been no time to walk around, no time to get lost in the general melee, and no time to feel a part of it all.

But there have been a few moments of downtime here and there, like tonight's beer and Indian pizza.  I don't know what I ate and yet I can tell you it was distinctively pizza-esque Indian food!  After it all, we dodged the customary onslaught of traffic on Colaba Causeway to hail a cab.

And, praise Ganesha, the cabs are very much the same.  Crazy green LED illumination is totally normal, right?

The peddlers on the street are still selling ridiculously oversized balloons.  These guys can be found every day trolling around the Taj Palace Hotel and, as such, I haven't figured out their target audience.  On one side you have tourists festooned with fancy cameras or shopping bags from the designer shops.  On the other side you have mothers and toddlers begging those very same tourists for whatever cash is leftover.  People have their hands full or their hands out but nobody has their hands on a balloon.

Yet perhaps best of all is that there was time on Saturday night to get out of the hotel and grab some drinks and dinner with two main characters from these India tales, Rohit and Brian.  (Monsoon humidity and jet lag causes you to look much more intoxicated than you really are...)

We all put work away long enough to shut down a restaurant, persuade a bartender to serve us more well past last call (they bet me I couldn't prevail, and I did!), and then finish the night off with a cruise down Marine Drive at a speed best classified as reckless.   Reckless driving in India?  Okay, maybe things aren't that different.

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