Sunday, June 30, 2019

Rickshaw Shopping in Pune

“Cleanliness becomes important when godliness is unlikely.”
-ad seen in Pune while riding in a rickshaw 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A week ago we were all meeting up in Chicago to start our trip, and now we are navigating the neighborhoods of Pune together. We are at our halfway point in the trip; next Sunday at this time we will be in the Delhi airport waiting for our flight home. 

No yoga today, but I slept long and well. Breakfast was especially nice because there were vegan “omelettes” for us special people. In addition, there’s always oatmeal and bread with mango jam (made from their own mango trees). This morning I partook in a cup of the French press coffee that gets made everyday. (And I’m still awake as a result...I’ve been falling asleep at night writing my blog but not tonight!)

We had five hours on or own today, so our group took rickshaws into another shopping district, MG Road. It was an easy ride today without the crazy traffic we experienced yesterday. We all got out and regrouped; us three chaperones asked the girls to look at the map and figure out where they wanted to go. 

First stop was an arcade of small shops. Girls found earrings and pants, and I found a swatch of fabric similar to what I saw yesterday. Hopefully, I can get the tailor to make me another shirt with it before I leave.

All of the groups then converged on a small handicraft shop recommended by Sangam. Everyone bought loads of souvenirs, and I managed to do my own shopping! The owner has a Sangam sign in his window, and he was offering everyone discounts. We all left a little lighter on money. 

We then went in search of a music store, which we never found. One of my girls did find a chocolate merengue though! We hunted for a stationary store that ended up being more an office supply store. We tried to find a bead/lace/ribbon store, but that didn’t happen. We did run into another group that told us about a jeweler. We all did a little more shopping there. 

The girls are still practicing their aggressive street crossing techniques. I’ve taken to shouting “aggressive crossing” when we have to start making our way into the street. Traffic never truly stops unless there’s a light, so you’ve got to push out and make everyone stop for you. 

We all met up for lunch at Ram Krishna, where we all had dosas for lunch. We all ended up getting Masala (potato) Dosa or  Cheese & Potato. They were big and delicious. My lemon ginger drink was perfect with it. I’ve only had dosa a few times in Chicago, but this one was so good. Everything tastes better on vacation!

We had a fun rickshaw ride home as we kept catching up to other groups. The drivers were clearly laughing at us a bit, but we didn’t care. On our route, we came across three very large cows sitting in the middle of the road; since cows are sacred, they get the right of way, and all the traffic goes around them. A few minutes later, we ran across a herd of goats being shepherded down the road. 

When we arrived at Sangam (after the driver made a wrong turn), we paid him the 100 rupees for the ride. In the morning, it had cost 92 and Sangam said 100-110 was what we should expect. The afternoon driver tried to charge us 150 rupees, claiming it was 50 each. We had asked him to set the meter, but he never did. 

My city girl self kicked in (and I remembered from our rickshaw video yesterday that they would try to charge us more without the meter), and I refused to give in. The girls looked bewildered, and I told them to give the 100 rupees and walk away. When I looked back, he was gone. Other groups paid the 150, but one driver set the meter and the charge was 85 rupees. While 50 rupees isn’t a lot to us ($.75), price gauging tourists is not a trade to support, especially when we asked for the meter. 

After putting away our purchases, the large group met to prepare activities for a session with the Nividita Guides, a local Girl Guide group that meets at Sangam. Our girls decided to teach the girls “cotton eyed joe,” including dance moves. They all put on their trip shirts and braided each other’s hair the same way. Then it was chai break (every day at 4:30pm).

An hour later, the Nividita Guides came. We all took turns doing our presentations for them. Our girls did a great job teaching the Indian girls (& the other Americans and Canadians) the dance moves. We watched different Indian groups doing dances for us. It was fun to see all the girls trying to include each other. 

Then it was time for dinner, which was Mexican food that we put in a chapatti. So good! And it was someone’s birthday, So we all got cake. They also made a small vegan one. Huzzah! 

The evening concluded with a game of Girl Guide / India jeopardy. The girls got into it, and it’s fun to see them all trying to win. Not to brag, but my group won! 

As I write this, the smoke detector has gone off because the mosquito fogger is pervading everywhere. The less mosquitoes the better. I can’t imagine what Delhi and Agra mosquitoes will be like with the heat. We don’t leave Sangam  til Thursday, and there’s still much to do! 

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