I went to India, and all I got you is this lousy blog post.
(Sorry. It’s not like I could pack souvenirs in my carry-on for all of you.)
I won’t bore you with the details of my trip, but I will tell you that flying to India from North Carolina is no joke. If you go to India, you go hard. That’s why I tried to do 100 things in the two days I had as a tourist.
First of all, I spoke at a conference. I participated in roundtables, walked the expo floor, spoke on a panel, and delivered a keynote speech on failure. I did this with no sleep, no sleeping pills to aid my sleep, and no goal other than to meet people and have a few good conversations.
The conference was great, but the man who introduced me tried to make a joke. Here it is, to the best of my memory.
“Our next speaker is about to talk about failure. By the way, have you heard the one about an Indian hotel manager who hires an illiterate villager to clean the elevators? The villager goes missing for four days. When he comes back, the hotel manager is stunned. He said, ‘I thought you quit.’ The villager responds, ‘No, I’ve been cleaning the elevator this whole time. Did you know the hotel has twenty floors, and there are two doors on each floor?”
There was silence.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Laurie Ruettimann.”
I dare you to step on stage and deliver an inspiring keynote after that.
Then I went to New Delhi and stayed at a nice hotel with a pillow menu. I don’t mess around. I tried every damn pillow because it’s criminal to pass that up.
Then I went to Agra, which is about three hours away from New Delhi, and saw the Taj Mahal with a driver named Sanjay Gupta. We also saw monkeys, feral pigs, oxen, water buffalo, beggars, a marble factory, and men defecating on the streets. It was a full day.
On my final day in Delhi, I visited all seven boroughs of the city. Highlights include a rickshaw ride, a visit to a famous Hindu temple, monkeys swinging on jury-rigged power lines, and not getting killed by motorbikes as I crossed the street in the heart of Old Delhi.
(You think you know traffic and congestion and pollution because you live in a big American city? You really don’t know shit until you see a woman riding side-saddle on the back of a motorbike going 55 mph with a toddler pressed between her and the driver. No helmets.)
Anyway, I had a wonderful trip. The people of India are very generous. But no matter where you live, there’s no place like home.