I know I have given little bits and pieces of my trip to India... and everyone is waiting for the big post. This isn't it. However, I wanted you to get to know the people I was with on the tour. After all, I was with these people the whole time, so that was part of the experience of my trip.
This was my first time traveling to a different country where I didn't back pack and ruff it. In the past, I have packed a backpack for however long and I stay in hostels and don't make any plans and just see what happens when I get there. Not this time. This time I was with a group, everything was planned, and we stayed in fancy 5 star hotels. I can't say that I wished I would have done it the other way, because had I done it the other way, I am not sure I would have seen as much as I did. Not sure I would have learned as much about the country either. Our tour guide was pretty amazing and since he is a local, he knew everything we needed to know and more. Not a bad way to travel... especially to a country like India.
I have to admit, knowing before hand that we would be on a tour, it made me wonder what kind of people would be on this tour with us. I figured it would mostly be older people because September is when people are in school. We were right. In all honesty, we didn't care who was on the tour with us, we were excited to be in India regardless and had a blast. Our tour group actually made for some entertainment. We would come back to our room at night and laugh about different things people said or did in our group. Most of them we made up nick names. Lets be honest, I didn't know most of their names. I doubt everyone knew our names either.
I wanted to introduce you to our group as we knew them on the trip. Below, you will see all of us in front of the Taj Mahal. I numbered each couple or individual so that you could follow along with me.
*Make sure you click on the photo to make it bigger so you can see everyone*
#1- We have our favorite (one and only) tour guide. His name is Virendra Kohli, but we all called him Veekay or VK. We really liked him. He always had our back. He even hung out with us the last night at the hotel.
#2- Not sure what her name is, but from day one we called her "The Mean Lady". I don't think I need to go into why. This was her 2nd time to India and she came back because she heard they were closing down the Taj Mahal to fix it up or something like that? I'm pretty sure they are not doing that. She loves cats and Indian Magic shows. Those were the only times I saw her light up.
#3- The New Yorkers. I only remember that one of their names was Naomi. They met in college and have been traveling the world together ever since. One was more quite, the other, more social. She would always let us know when we should buy something because it was great quality and we were getting an awesome deal.
#4- I don't remember their names either. We didn't really talk to them until the end of the trip, but they are from the East Coast and have also traveled the world. They love England the most and are very proper.... in fact, it seems to me like they should live there. They were really sweet.
#5- The Hipsters. The only other people on the tour that was close to our age. Their names are John and Miranda, but we called them "The Hipsters" because of how they dressed and acted. I thought they were really nice and we hung out with them a few times on the trip especially one day when everyone else was on the optional tours, we went out on our own. They are from Philadelphia, vegetarians and totally paranoid of the germs in India. They pretty much flipped a lid when they realized there was ice in their soda at McDonald's and made sure we all stopped drinking and took a pepto bismal to kill the germs. They almost had a heart attack when we told them we had been brushing our teeth with the tap water.
#6- Us. The babies of the group. The ones that were always giggling in the back at Veekay's jokes that not many people seemed to find as funny as we did. The ones that were always the last ones on the bus, even when we thought we were early.
#7- The Mormon Couple. Day one of the tour we overheard them talking about their son that went on a mission. Erin and I introduced ourselves to them and told them we were lds too. They said out of all the tours they had been on, they had never run into other lds people until us. They are from Snowflake Arizona and he is a dentist. We sat by them on the bus a lot of the time and had a lot of great conversations about the church and they became my parents on the trip. When we would leave to go anywhere without the group they would tell us to "Remember who we are" and things like that... and it made me happy and feel at home. Also very comforting to know in case anything happened, there was a priesthood holder there. They were very sweet to me and I really appreciated it. After watching me and listening to some of my conversation with others, he came and sat by me and told me that they thought I was a really great girl and they hoped their son married someone like me. It meant a lot to me. If I am ever near Snowflake Arizona, I would love to see them.
#8- Dorothy. Came by herself. Kind of on the weird side. Never wore a bra. Great candidate for the show "What Not To Wear"... especially her mullet-ish hair.
#9- Old Black Lady. Also came by herself. She was pretty mute the whole trip. The only time I saw her smile or talk is when she was wearing a shirt with the Obama family on it. The Locals recognize Obama... they love him there. So they pointed at her shirt and said Obama. She replied "yep" with a big smile on her face and then started naming off everyone else in the family.
#10- Never talked to this couple. Don't know their names. All I know is that they knew I was single and on the last day of the trip they handed me the "Matrimonials" from the Indian paper they got that morning and told me to take a look. The men are separated by cast (so naturally we only looked at the first two casts) and its all adds from the parents trying to marry off their children. Caroline has a boyfriend, but she was very interested in seeing what was out there for Erin and I. She got the email address for a couple of guys for Erin in New York. I'm waiting on pins and needles to see how those work out.
#11- Yen Yen & Dorothy. Yen Yen is single living in Phoenix Arizona. Dorothy is a lonely Widow that misses her husband and has been traveling the world since he died. Yen Yen and Dorothy met on their last Gate 1 tour. Yen Yen was one of our favorite people on the tour. Always happy and friendly. Remembered every one's names. Got excited over everything and was always shopping for a good deal.
#12- Ben and Jerry (real names Doug & Gerry). They are strong Catholic. From Virginia. They are interesting. We kind of got stuck having two meals with them in one day. It was an overload. Mostly Doug talking and us listening except for when Gerry mentioned some bread and butter being better than sex and Doug saying "Well, I know where I stand". It was just too awkward and we tried to avoid them after that. Very nice people though.
#13- Geologist Jim & his wife. I think his real name was Jeffrey. He actually is a geologist. He even brought his special tools to examine stones and jewels when people bought jewels in Jaipur. We also called him Safari Jim because he always had one of those hats on... and a vest with a ton of pockets. he called that vest his purse. He was always taking notes (which was actually a smart idea) and I told him what a great idea that was and that maybe I would cheat off of his notes at the end of the tour. He just nodded at me and very seriously said I should. ha ha. I was totally joking.
#14- I don't know their names. I never really ever talked to them except they were making a phone call when we were buying our Indian outfits and she told me I should choose the color I did and then told me how pretty it was on me and brought out my eyes.
#15- I have NO idea. Pretty sure we never talked to them.
So there you have it. Our tour. All of these people that you would most likely never talk to or get to know if you were not stuck on a bus together for a week. Kind of funny, fun and interesting.
I would do it again in a heartbeat. :o)