Last full day in India!

It’s been a great last full day here in Pune. We all hit the road around 8:15 a.m. and made the two-hour journey to Mahabaleshwar (I should mention that we hadn’t driven for more than maaaaybe 40 minutes before my aunt asked when we’d be stopping for tea and breakfast! And we’d had a little of both before leaving the house!). It was a pretty drive, but the last 1/3 was super twisty and winding — as much of a true one-lane road as you’ll find in India. And here, they don’t do the dotted-line/solid-line lane markings to let you know when it’s safe to pass (and really, on such a winding road, you probably can’t ever pass), so whenever we got behind a bus or truck, it was a stressful 10-15 minutes of our driver starting to veer out to pass, then suddenly seeing a car coming around the curve in the opposing lane and having to dart back in. Luckily, everyone does this dance, so those opposing drivers are seasoned at honking their annoyance and moving on with their lives.

Once we got to Mahabaleshwar, we got out and walked around the little shopping area. I decided I needed one of these pretty quilts they were selling there for around $10 U.S. It’s really lightweight (and should pack down into my suitcase, please Universe!) and has pretty shades of pink and purple. It’s twin-sized (so will live on my couch) and hand-sewn. It’s currently packed up nicely in a bag, but here’s a shot as a little preview:

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Here’s one of India’s famous trucks; the fronts and backs are quite colorful. All of them say “HORN PLEASE” or “HORN OK PLEASE” to ask that you give them a little toot when you pass or need some space or whatever (as if Indians need to be asked to press the horn!). At night, a lot of them have colorful lights flashing and changing colors on the front. I had a hard time getting a pic of the front of a truck on the way in from Mumbai, but here’s the back of a gas tank:

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A lot of the trucks also say something like “India is Great” or mention Ganesh/Ganpati, the elephant-head god, who is super popular in this area (if not most/a lot of India). Note that the guy above — as do many trucks — also helpfully has a sign pointing out his “Stop Signal,” aka brake light!

Couple examples of the fronts of some trucks:

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Me and my cousin’s son:

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View going up the pass:

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After our little shopping stop, we headed out of Mahabaleshwar and stopped in nearby Panchgani. The area is known for its strawberries, so I broke my “no fresh fruits or vegetables” mantra and had some strawberry ice cream with strawberry whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It was so delicious I forgot to take any pictures of it!! The happy news so far is that my stomach seems to be back in proper working order, and it’s been a few hours since the berries.. Fingers crossed!

As I begin to close this novel out, some random shots of random animals amongst random people in a random area (those of you I’m friends with on Facebook may have seen the previous installments)..

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Also! Went to McD’s and tried their Chicken Maharaja Mac (most everything else was McSpicy this or Super Spicy that, and in India — they ain’t kidding when they call something “spicy!”). The fries were great, but I only made it through about half of the burger.. there was a spice in the sauce for which I didn’t care (it was also in the side of “Chipotle” sauce you see below). Oh well, I went mostly to say I did! And upon the insistence of a friend at work (hi JY!).

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Finally, a quick look to tomorrow — Cousin D and I have most of tomorrow here in Pune to do any last-minute shopping (I. Must. STOP. SHOPPING!), do some laundry and then pack up our things. I’m not super worried about my stuff fitting in my bags — it’s more the weight that concerns me, as my suitcase was right at the limit on the way here. I did have some stuff Mom sent with me that I’ve since distributed to various people, and I plan to (at least) leave my towel here, but we’ll see how things pan out. I’m also checking in a large backpack, into which I’ll do my best to cram in the heaviest items. I better stick to only buying small trinkets in Hong Kong, or I may need to buy another suitcase! 

Cousin D and I will get picked up around 6 p.m. for the 3-4-hour road trip to Mumbai. I think our flight to Hong Kong is at 1:30 a.m.? Cousin H will meet us at the HK airport at 9 a.m. Tues. after our 6-hour flight, and we’ll all hang there until Cousin D has to check in for her flight to San Fran (her layover in HK is 5 hours total). Then Cousin H and I will head to his apartment, and Sis (my sister) will arrive in HK around 7 p.m. Tues. and make her way to his place solo. Hope to have more consistent Internet access there!

This post was brought to you by some late-night Diet Coke! Oh, and this is a little late, but sorry for all the huuuge pics. I’ve been posting as I’m able, and don’t have the luxury of time to crop down the pics!

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