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Up and about in India

After finally getting over my jetlag, I spent the last several days visiting more remote areas near Coimbatore (where I flew into and where I'm staying at the moment)...Internet withdrawal! Two of my cousins took me up to the hill town of Ooty last weekend, at an elevation of 7500'. You can definitely feel the thin air that high up. There's a huge, wonderful botanical garden up there, tons of different vegetation than down here on the ground, and lots of beautiful, unspoiled land to look down upon (but sadly some overdeveloped spoiled areas about as well.) Oh, and they now know how to make lemon drops at the Holiday Inn there (and quite well at that!) :) It seems there's some decent mountain hiking around Ooty, and it's only 100km from Coimbatore, so I'll have to try to make my relatives go hiking sometime!

After that I spent 3 days in Tirupur, where my parents grew up. Since my mom and dad had 5 siblings apiece (sadly only 2 of my dad's sisters are left on his side, but his family had plenty of kids as well) we have tons of extended family around there, and they were all very happy to see me. Since it's been 8 years since I've visited, and since the older relatives on my dad's side don't speak English (and I barely understand Tamil,) it was an interesting visit. It was a lot of fun though! I'd forgotten how tasty fresh coconut milk is. They climb up the tree, cut down a coconut, and hack it open for you on the spot! Amusingly, my mom told some of the relatives they should provide plates and silverware for me. I'm quite happy to eat off a banana leaf with my hands like everyone else. I need no man-made eating implements! This was also my first time visiting my mom's childhood house since my grandfather died (we used to stay there a lot every visit to India), so that brought back a lot of memories. I spent one night there after spending two nights with a cousin on my dad's side.

As for the whole not liking Indian food thing, I'm doing pretty well. Everything is so fresh here which helps a lot, and there's always a good variety of stuff. And my relatives are more than happy to have the things I do like prepared. Fortunately they tend to make a wide variety of food at each meal in general (extended families eating together and all) so my food pickiness doesn't seem to be too much of a burden. There are decent non-Indian restaurants around too, and we've gone out to eat a few times since I've gotten here; the food is amazingly cheap for what you get, just like everything else here! I bought 20 ibuprofen tablets since I forgot to bring any, and it came to a grand total of about 15 cents. I also picked up a fairly nice pair of shorts for $3. Calls to other cellphones on my *prepaid* sim card cost around 2c/min during the day or about 0.6c/min at night (and free inbound!), and international is around 30c/min. If you have a postpaid account it's a good deal cheaper still. Sure beats the $2.99/min that T-Mobile charges if I roam here (at least I can receive roaming smses on my T-Mobile account at the regular rate.) Oh yeah, my cell's +91 9994235390 if anyone wants to harass me in my absence.

My mom's arriving in Coimbatore tomorrow, and we have to go back to Tirupur this weekend for a wedding on my dad's side of the family, so I'll continue to be pummeled with the Internet withdrawal! It's really eye-opening in some ways to realize just how much time one can spend doing other things after years of spending way too much time online.