The India-Trip Awards and Superlatives

India

Namaste, homes.

The Peek India MAP trip’s almost at an end: bags are packed, souvenirs purchased, interviews completed and final curries consumed. MAP itself isn’t over, and in fact we’re about to crash headlong into the hella busy presentation-finalizing phase that doesn’t wrap up until April 28. But the India portion of the project is about to close out, so I thought I’d do it up superlative-style and look back on the trip:

Most Relevant Article: “Trying Really Hard To Like India”. I’ve sent this article by my old coworker Seth Stevenson to everyone on an India MAP project, and it’s gotten to the point that we all make references to it when something relevant happens, which is often. It definitely captures the pluses and minuses of being a visitor, and it’s another chance for me to plug Slate. Everybody wins.

Best Mode of Transport: Walking. Rickshaws are fun and all, but it’s much more exciting to dodge buses and trucks when you have zero protection but much greater side-to-side agility. It also helps you walk off all those ghee-induced calories.

Best Word: “Teekay.” This just means “very good”, but you can use it for just about any situation at all — explaining where to stop in a rickshaw, ordering food, or settling on a highly inflated price. Perfect when combined with …

Best Gesture: The Head Waggle. Duh.

Best Airline: Kingfisher in a rout. Flying Kingfisher is a treat — even an hourlong flight comes complete with meal, lemon drink, “refreshing face towel” and in-seat video. Plus, the crew is “personally selected for your safety” by Dr. Vijay Mallay. As you can see from this photo, it’s obvious to anyone that Kingfisher takes special pride in its safety regulations.

Best Food: Gulab jamun. Indian sweets probably pack more sugar per square centimeter of foodstuff than any other nation’s desserts, and gulab jamun is certainly setting the trend. If you aren’t familiar with it, think of a donut ball dunked in sugar syrup and you’re pretty close to the mark. It is pure saccharine goodness.

Best Men’s Accessory: The Mustache. So much of the world has moved on from the facial hairstyles of the early ’80s, which is why I can only hope this doesn’t come true. What haven will the mustache have left? It will be reduced solely to the once-a-year Rosstache charity event. (I plan to participate next year, and I have some terrific ideas involving a neckbeard.)

Least Favorite Trip Experience: Sweating it out in Mumbai. Mumbai has plenty to do — the Taj Hotel and the Elephanta Caves are amazing, and I hear there’s awesome party action that we were completely unable to find. It’s similar enough to New York City that two of my later-arriving teammates were taken aback by how I had started to go native and navigate the city in just three days. (Had I not been trimming it, the hair above my lip probably would have grown five times faster than normal.) I’m sure lots of people think Bombay / Mumbai is a great place to be.

Sadly I was not one of these people — I can’t say I enjoy the clinging feeling of business wear in 100-degree, 100-percent-humidity weather. Somehow the weather also accelerates the feeling of helpless guilt that comes from witnessing some of the sadder stuff on Earth, and it certainly accelerates the smell that comes from cows and dogs eating long-expired substances. Then there was the four-hour hotel-lobby adventure when Jim didn’t bring his passport. (The first few bars of “Jingle Bells” will haunt me for years.)

So yeah, I’m glad I went to Mumbai and really did enjoy some of it, but I won’t be in a huge hurry to get back.

Trip Highlight: Visiting the family. Having family where you’re going is always a good thing, and that’s even more true when you’re going halfway around the world. From playing deus ex machina in fixing the aforementioned hotel issue to coming in for lunch in Mumbai to completely spoiling our entire group during our trip to Delhi, the visits with G’s family were the best part of the time over here. Much gratitude to everyone — I not only got the best wife by getting married, I got the best in-laws.

That’s about all from this side of the world, so we’ll return to our regularly-scheduled website soon enough. Meantime, namaskar and see yinz later.

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