Posts Tagged ‘india’

Playing Cards

Posted: September 28, 2014 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, TRAVEL
Tags: ,

I (stupidly) decided to be cheap and forgo the 25$ checked bag fee from Darwin to Singapore- because, hello! I’ll be in the tropics and I don’t need any clothes! Surely I can make my bag weigh less than 10kilos, right?

This is harder than it sounds. Mostly because 10kg had to include all my bags (including my little carry on- with my laptop (1kg), paper journal, kindle, and (most importantly) the 4kg of starburst gummy snakes that one can only find in Australia.

So I set out towards a trash can and began The Purge.

Clothes that I really regret getting rid of- like my quick-dry yoga/running pants that I’ve had since my first day of CrossFit and got a weird hole in them while sledding down a slide in Nicaragua on zombie apocalypse day. (Dec, 21, 2012).

And my paper journal- which I promptly replaced once I got to Vietnam.

And then- my deck of cards that I got from Deadwood, South Dakota.

This was the kicker- because I was going to be traveling with Lauren, an English bird I had met in Peru, through SE Asia and then into India. She was an avid card player- and I knew I needed to replace these cards at some point.

But out they went in attempts to get under weight. The check-in lady was impressed that I managed to purge 4kg worth of crap and waved my 10.5kg bag onto the plane.

For whatever reason- Lauren and I didn’t play cards until we got to India- where it was so hot and exhausting to leave the hostel/do anything outside for 2 reasons:

1) we had to wear full-costumes. Everything had to be covered from our shoulders to our knees. I regretted throwing away my Capri-running pants every day I was there. I ended up getting a pair of black tights and cutting them at the shin and wearing my hoodie all the time.

2) white girls stand out like a burning giraffe in a Wisconsin winter. We might as well have had signs that said “take advantage of us! We’re tourists!”

Getting ripped off was expected. Haggling was expected. Something I mastered. (Note: if they have a half-smile- that’s the micro expression for contempt and you’re getting ripped off. If they smile evenly- they are genuinely happy about the transaction. If they frown and their brow furrows- they are angry about the situation.)

This is important because one afternoon, Lauren and I were just too knackard to do anything and were moaning about the lack of playing cards. I decided to have an adventure and go out to get some.

Now- the streets of Mumbai are…. Crowded. Actually, all of India is crowded. It’s a great place to practice/mentally prepare what the zombie apocalypse is going to be like- because you are just constantly swarmed by people. There is no such thing as “personal space” there. Some people noted the smell- I didn’t smell anything- but the grubby hands that were always reaching to touch my hair/skin- or the states like I was growing lobsters out of my ears got annoying after 30min. Yet it continued for 4 weeks straight.

Because the streets are crowded with people- that means there are hundreds of stalls up and down the sidewalk. Most sold knick-knacks. Lighters, packages of pretzels/peanuts, batteries, mobile airtime, seeing thread, pens, notebooks, car batteries, socks (sometimes as a pair!), you name it! I thought, fersure, I would be able to find a pack of playing cards easily.

So I set out, donning my full-attire, into the blazing 40C “chilly October weather”, to find cards. I was fairly successful in finding them – but purchasing them was a different story. No one wanted to sell them to me!

“Can I buy? Here! 80rupee! (1.25$)” (a great price- as the guest house owner said it would only cost 30rupees.)

Alas, No. Everyone would say “no. Not for sale.”

I went to another stand, ignoring the peddlers screaming “hello lady!”, “hello miss!” And all the whistles for me to get into a taxi.

Another no go. That guy didn’t even take the time to face me to tell me to shoo away. He just waved his hand like I was some fly buzzing around rotting meat.

I was getting frustrated now. I tried to find a woman peddler- only to figure out that there were none. I was in a sea of men- wearing full robes and reading of curry. The situation vaguely reminded me of my dad’s phrase when I was in college where the male-to-female ratio was 9:1: “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

More taxi-whistles. I didn’t want a taxi. I wanted a goddamn set of playing cards!

I went to 3 more stands. Most men just ignored me. Some other buyers would shove me out of the way. Some would take selfies with me- but refuse to help/point me in the right direction. One guy spit on me and screamed something in Hindi- which I can only imagine was something along the lines of “fuck off, gringo!”

At least, this is how I felt.

Finally, I was at my wits end. A 10min task had taken over an hour and a half and I’m sure Lauren thought I was dead by now. I went to one last shop and bought a pack of ciggarettes and tried to, on the sly, buy a pack of cards. He gave me a lighter instead. Sigh. Fine.

I almost accepted defeat until I was walking back to the guest house when I saw a bunch of taxi drivers playing cards!

This was my chance!

I mimed “cards for cigarettes? Trade” in the best way possible with grunts and interpretive dance. One guy, in perfect English, said: you want to trade a pack of unopened cigarette for this used deck of cards? Do you have a lighter?”

Well, yes! Yes I did!

So- that’s how I got my deck of cards: The most accomplished purchase I’ve ever made. I still have them and refuse to get rid of them- even though they are paper, bend easily, don’t shuffle properly and are stained with red wine and tomato sauce from late night parties.

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Crossfit OM (Mumbai, India)

Posted: October 20, 2013 in Ex-er...size?
Tags: ,

Crossfit OM Is tucked away on 2nd pasta lane, opposite the colaba market in Mumbai. I actually couldn’t find it at first until I saw a man walking towards me wearing typical western gym clothes (shorts and sleeveless top) when I realized that Crossfit is the same no matter where you are. Even India.

Some things to note: i was told, while in India, women had to keep their shoulders and knees covered. This includes being at the gym. Which…. To be honest, sucks. All my clothes that follow these rules aren’t made for wods and I ended up losing a pair of pants. So if you’re visiting, make sure you’re prepared!

The box is, like I said, tucked away- but opens up to a huge, well ventilated 2 story room complete with all the necessities for a great Wod.

Yoga stretches/postures are really popular throughout all of india, and crossfit OM is no different. after the warmup they do group stretching that put me to shame- and i consider myself super flexible. (I spent 2 weeks at an ashram practicing yoga and I have no doubt in my mind that asana postures help build up your core and make you a stronger athlete.) the way that everyone here can bend is mind boggling and inspiring.

Moving onto the Wod- after some back squat skill training (do 5 reps every 2 min for 20 min. Every other lift increases weight) it was a simple 10min AMRap of 7 overhead squats, 14 weighted lunges (sweet!) and 7 burpees.

I asked around, after we were done, what the hardest part was. The opinions were all over the place- some thought the burpees were the hardest, some were glad for the burpees but thought the weighted lunges were the hardest, some were still sore from the back squats. Personally, I thought the heat and the fact that I looked like I just went swimming made it the most difficult. Getting climitized is hard.

As always, the best part of any box is the socializing after the Wod- and this place is no different. Panting, tired and sprawled out on the ground like abandoned starfishes, I chat up the other members and ask a lot of questions about Mumbai and India in general. (Like- why do boys hold other boy’s hands?) laughter erupts and explanations fly from everyone in the gym. The answer, incase youre curious, is that no one knows. “It’s not a gay thing, though.”)

I’ve been in India for a month and there was a saying that “you either love or hate india. there is no inbetween.” While I understand that expression, I definitely felt most at home and welcome at Crossfit OM during all my travels. They say that the members make the box and this is no exception! Thanks for everything guys 🙂 I really appreciated working out with y’all.

Getting an Indian visa was a little more than sketchy. Because I couldn’t find any other blog posts about it, I thought I would post my own story:

 

I should state that I’m living in Australia right now and had to go through the Indian Embassy in Australia. With that said, here was my experience:

 

  •  go to http://www.vfs-in-au.net/. Click on the “apply for visa” link.
  • Clicking through the options it’ll eventually lead you to THIS SITE. (which Chrome says is insecure).

It took me over a month to get over my fear of “omg. they want me to put my personal information AND PASSPORT NUMBER on an insecure website?!??”

Commenced research. Couldn’t find a single person who wrote about this. No one saying “yea it’s sketchy… but don’t worry, it’s cool”… The worst case scenario is that my identity gets stolen and I get kidnapped/raped/killed in India. Always wanting to live adventurously, I hit send and hoped for the best.

Some hilarious things about the application process: It asks for your religion (jewish isn’t an option, btw), your marital status (not relationship status) and any markings you have on your face. (moles, etc… but “2 different colored eyes” wasn’t recognized). You also have to be sponsored by someone in the country (I hear you need this in China and Russia, too).

  • Send your passport* to the embassy.
  • Get a text and email both stating the exact same thing: “your application is up for review with the High Ambassador of India”. (fancy!)
  • Get a text and email both stating the exact same thing: “Your application has been dispatched by post/courier to your provided address. Thank you”
  • Get your passport in the mail.
  • Breathe a sigh of relief that it’s back in your possession… With a fancy new page in it!

 

*note: If you aren’t at home to sign for the parcel when they ship it back, you need your passport to get your parcel…. this makes things interesting. Luckily my flatmate was home.

 

 

So that was my experience. Who knows if my identity was stolen… I guess that’s the worst-case scenario, right? Either which way, I’m going to India!