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Ephesus, Turkey

Library of Celcus

Library of Celcus

Ephesus is considered one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean region. At its peak, Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and boasted 250,000 inhabitants. The goddess Artemis was heavily worshipped here.

Our host from Nilya dropped us off at the Upper (Magnesia) Gate and we spent two pleasant hours meandering our way through the ruins of Ephesus to the Lower Gate. We arrived early to beat the heat but by 11am the sun was beating down hard and we couldn’t imagine visiting in June or July. Additionally, we navigated around various tour groups that tended to clog up the different buildings and boulevards. Later, we heard that in the peak season up to 30,000 visitors to Ephesus can be disgorged from cruise ships at Kusadasi in a single day. Yuck.

Odeon

Odeon

Highlights included the Odeon, Curetes Way, Library of Celcus and Great Theater. The Curetes Way was the primary boulevard of Ephesus, lined with rows of shops and pedestals displaying statues of honored citizens. The way was named for the demi-gods who helped Lena give birth to Artemis and Apollo. Celcus Polemaeanus was the Roman governor of Asia Minor early in the 2nd century AD. His son, Consul Tiberius Julius Aquila, erected the library in his father’s honor after the governor’s death in 114. The library held 12,000 scrolls in niches around its walls, making it the third-largest library in the ancient world after Alexandria (Egypt) and Pergamum (Turkey). The Great Theater was reconstructed by the Romans between AD 41 and AD 117. The first theater on the site dated from the Hellenistic city of Lysimachus. The cavea (seating area) was capable of holding 25,000 people, with each successive range of seating pitched more steeply than the one below, thereby improving the view and acoustics for spectators in the upper seats. Interesting fact: Archaeologists often estimate a city’s size by multiplying its theater’s capacity by ten.

Upon finishing our visit we strolled through the shady tree-lined path to the Lower Gate. Nilya has an arrangement with one of the gift shops to call to be picked up. When we returned to the hotel we announced we were heading to the bus station to travel to Pamukkale (the town). The guys called the bus station, determined that we had ten minutes until the next bus, and went into overdrive. We threw our stuff into the van and zipped over to the station, where our driver honked at a Pamukkale (the bus company) bus which was exiting the gate. Turned out this bus was actually heading to Istanbul and we had time to board our bus to Pamukkale (the town). Last minute antics like this are only possible in the shoulder season!

Selcuk, Turkey

After checking out of our apartment and saying good-bye to Mamut, we carted our belongings about a half a mile to Taksim Square where we caught a taxi.  Due to our lack of Turkish we mistakenly told the driver we were headed to America when we thought the driver was asking where we were from.  This small error almost resulted in us being dropped off at the international terminal instead of the domestic terminal. Luckily, the signs at the airport are in Turkish and English so we figured it out; it only ended up costing us few extra liras to correct the situation.

Waiting to board our flight to Izmir

Waiting to board our flight to Izmir

Once we checked into the airport we headed to our gate but only after Marc botched going through security twice.  He forgot to take his laptop out of the bag and belt off.  The plane ride was only 40 minutes long and we entertained Ezra by reviewing the emergency landing card.  At the Izmir airport it took us so long to use the bathroom, change Ezra and gather our bags that we appeared to be the only passengers left.  After wandering around, a security guard helped us find the bus station that would bring us to the otogar, or bus station, where we would take one final bus ride to our final destination, Seluck. So, after a taxi ride, plane ride, two bus rides and another taxi ride we determined that Ezra was an amazing traveler and we would elect to tackle a more aggressive travel itinerary.

Since we are visiting Turkey in the shoulder season and there appear to be few tourists we were a bit cocky with our travel plans and did not make a hotel reservation in Seluck.  Marc picked out a place called Niyla and we were able to book the last room available (although there were plenty of options elsewhere).  Hotel Niyla was a bit more than we are used to spending while traveling but it was worth it.  The place was beautiful, the staff was friendly and it was so comfortable.  Due to the cost, the other travelers tended to be older but we still made friends with a Welsh and an Australian couple.  The staff was enamored with Ezra and grabbed him from us a few times to hold him and make faces at him.

All that remains of the Temple of Artemis

All that remains of the Temple of Artemis

After checking-in and freshening up, we decided to visit a few other sites Seluck had to offer and leave Ephesus for the following day.  First up was one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis.  After some unclear directions, we eventually made it but not before I mistakenly took a picture of Marc and Ezra is front of a random column on the street. At the Temple only one column remains (out of 127), which is topped by a stork’s nest.  I was surprised at the lack of infrastructure and security surrounding the Temple given its status.  Next up was a small mosque and then we walked up a hill to the Basilica of St John. Most of the Basilica that remains has been restored but it was still a beautiful place.

Now that our stomachs were grumbling we began the search for dinner.  We settled on a local koftecisi overlooking the Roman aqueducts, where we tried kofte, a Turkish lamb sausage, for the first time.  In the video you can see Ezra gobble it up.

The evening ended with us relaxing in our quaint hotel and chatting with a Welsh couple named Kathleen and Peter. The couple had done a fair bit of traveling, including Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. When not traveling, they run a homestay/bed-and-breakfast in Bangor, Wales, called Tregarth Homestay Bed & Breakfast

Lodging: Hotel Nilya

Istanbul, Turkey, Day 3

Ferry Tour on the Bosphorus Strait

Ferry Tour on the Bosphorus Strait

This morning we woke up to what sounded like a parade marching through Beyoglu. I headed out to pick up breakfast and discovered a school nearby. In the main plaza hundreds of students were gathered around in a circle listening to music and cheering. I also noticed that red and white Turkish flags were suspended from the windows and doorways of many buildings. Later we determined that it was an Ataturk-related holiday for children. For breakfast I ordered a cheese gozleme (pancake) from O Hala, which we ate back at the apartment.

We elected to use the stroller today. We walked down Istiklal Caddesi taking in the morning activity and storefronts. We stopped for a coffee break at a small cafe. At Galata Tower we snapped a few photos. The last section of the street was rather steep. Crossing under the busy intersection via an underground mall we arrived at the Galata Bridge. While waiting for the Bosphorus Tour ferry to depart we ate fish sandwiches for lunch, freshly caught at the nearby fish market. Once on the boat it became apparent that we had accidentally boarded the ferry which traverses between the European and Asian sides of the strait. On the Asian side we appealed to a ferry employee who happily showed us to the correct tour ferry. The tour ferry was very crowded with Turkish tourists; we appeared to be the only foreign tourists. The tour sailed idyllically up to the Fatih Bridge where we turned around. After docking at the Asian wharf we quickly hopped on the ferry back to Eminonu on the European side.

From there we headed up into the Bazaar District of Sultanahmet. This area was very crowded and we had to fold up the stroller while carrying Ezra. In the Spice Bazaar Beth Ann got lured into a spice store where she simultaneously became intoxicated by the offerings and temporarily forgot the exchange rate. We left $41 poorer but with plenty of chicken spice and peppercorns. Continuing uphill we strolled past clothing stores (“jeans, jeans!”), jewelry stores, toy stores, and various other wares. At an orange juice stand I struck up a conversation with the two jovial employees.

Bazaar District

Bazaar District

We checked out the Grand Bazaar itself, which is enclosed mini-city of stores and narrow passages.  Neither of us were very much in the shopping mood so we exited through a book store area and into the Beyazit Square in front of Istanbul University.  From there we meandered our way to the Suleymaniye Mosque.  Ezra was starting to get cranky so Beth Ann walked with him while I checked out the mosque interior, which was just as beautiful as the Blue Mosque.  The courtyard, gardens, and grounds were also very pretty.  From the mosque we descended down to the Golden Horn and across the Galata Bridge where we caught a taxi back to Taksim Square.

At this point, however, we became ambitious and decided to walk back down Istiklal Caddesi to trendy Sishane where we found the Sofyali 9 restaurant.  Here we enjoyed a tasty dinner of mezes on the second floor surrounded by other knowledgeable tourists from various countries (Spain, UK, etc.).  We had cheese, yogurt, eggplant, farmer’s salad, and fried calamari.  Yum.

Lodging: Istanbul Apartments

Istanbul, Turkey, Day 2

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque


Ezra didn’t sleep very much on our first night.  In fact, we were up til 3:30am with him.  In the morning I went out to purchase nescafe instant coffee, yogurts, and packaged pancakes for breakfast.  As it was Sunday morning the streets were pretty quiet.  After eating breakfast in our living room, Ezra and Beth Ann napped on the couch while I prepared the day pack for our outing.  Finally, we headed out around 11:30am, a late start for us but we have a third traveler with us, after all!  We walked up Istiklal Caddesi to Taksim Square, a central landmark of the Beyoglu neighborhood which is named after its stone taksim (reservoir).  In the center of the square the Cumhuriyet Aniti (Republic Monument) features Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu. From there we caught a taxi to Sultanahmet.  Before getting in the taxi I asked the taxi driver to write the estimated price in our notebook, to which he smirkingly agreed.

Sultanahmet is the old section of Istanbul in which several of the major sights are located.  It also very touristy, filled with souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurants catering to visitors.  We strolled around Sultanahmet Park to figure out the locations and opening times of the various sights.  Up a small hill we got a beautiful view of the Blue Mosque and its six soaring minarets.  After that, it was time for lunch!  Unfortunately, we’ve gotten rusty since Operation Wanderlust and we walked into the first restaurant we found on the main street.  I got lamb doner kebab and Beth Ann got chicken doner kebab.  The food was mediocre and expensive (TL10) given that a doner kebab from a takeaway shop would have run us TL2.

With full bellies we proceeded to the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) which was constructed between 1610 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmet I.  Visitors are required to remove their shoes and carry them.  The interior of the mosque was breathtaking.  The large dome is intricate decorated and supported by four large “elephant’s feet” columns.  An imam was reading verses from the Koran while men prayed in the central area.  Women are required to pray in a separate smaller section in the back.  There was also a balcony open to women but Beth Ann was denied entrance.

Back outside we continued on to the Aya Sofya museum.  This beautiful building was constructed as a church in 537 by Emperor Justinian.  Later, in 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror had it converted into a mosque.  In 1935, it was proclaimed a museum.  The beautiful interior dome is supported by columns hidden in the walls, which gives an illusion that it is floating.  Several large 19th century medallions hang around the interior space, engraved with the names of Allah, Mohammed, and several early caliphs.  On the mezzanine, Ezra started to get antsy so Beth Ann fed him in a corner and then we let him crawl around for a bit.  After exiting the Aya Sofya we changed Ezra’s diaper at the bathroom and took a stroll around Sultanahmet.  Pleasant area but a little too touristy for our liking.  We stopped at a cafe for a refreshing apple tea and nescafe break.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

After our break we managed to enter the Basilica Cistern just before closing.  This was a neat highlight of the day, an underground water storage area built by Emperor Justinian in 532.  336 atmospherically lit columns stand in shallow water supporting the ceiling.  An elevated walkway winds through the cistern and two Medusa head carvings can be found in the rear area.  Leaving the cistern we walked downhill to the tram.  Along the way a man motioned to me that he wanted to hold Ezra but BA didn’t think it was a good idea.  Later we realized that everyone in this country loves babies and wants to hold Ezra!  The tram took us two stops to the Galata bridge which connects Sultanahmet with Karakoy and Beyoglu.  From the bridge several mosques and the Istanbul skyline are visible, as well as Asia across the Bosphorus.  People fish from the top of the bridge, while bars and fish restaurants line the bottom level.  We stopped for a beer and tea to enjoy the sunset.  Ezra didn’t enjoy it, however, so we left before he had a full meltdown.  Across the bridge we caught a taxi up to Taksim Square.  For dinner we managed to locate the Medi Sark Sofrasi restaurant described in our guidebook, where we feasted on kebabs, babam ekmek (‘my father’s bread’), ayran yogurt drinks, and a tasty salad.  Both of us started nodding off near the end of our meal so we beat a hasty retreat back to the apartment.

Lodging: Istanbul Apartments

Istanbul, Turkey, Day 1

Young jetsetter

Young jetsetter

We arrived in Istanbul on Saturday afternoon and caught a taxi to the Istanbul Apartments in Beyoglu. Our taxi driver’s English was not great but I managed to request that he phone the hotel manager to meet us in order to show us our room. He had trouble reading BA’s handwriting so he pulled over on the busy highway to call. Our taxi driver was friendly and when he realized I had learned a few Turkish words from my Lonely Planet guidebook he tried teaching me a few more. We arrived in Beyoglu, picked up Mahmoud, the hotel manager, and made our way to the apartments. The streets of Beyoglu are narrow and windy and it was very crowded. After selecting an apartment on the third floor and lugging all our stuff up, we headed out to

For dinner we had a tasty meal at O Hala right down the street from our apartment. BA got chicken kebabs and I got special pan chicken. For an appetizer we had spinach gozleme (pancakes) which were very good. The pancakes are cooked fresh on a hot plate. We chatted with a friendly British couple next to us. They were starting a Mediterranean cruise. The husband looked strikingly similar to Sean Connery! After dinner we took a short stroll on Beyoglu’s main drag, Istaklal Cadissi. This street is very popular with Istanbullus and it was wall-to-wall people. We grabbed dessert at Saray Muhallebicisi, a pastry shop, then headed home. Ezra did not sleep well and wanted nothing to do with the Peapod travel tent.

Lodging: Istanbul Apartments

International Flight with an Infant

There are red dots on my face!

I'm very excited for my trip!

We spent Friday taking care of last minute preparations. Of note, we took Ezra to the pediatrician to be diagnosed with Kocsacki Disease, a viral infection which results in red spots on the face, hands, and feet! The Nurse Practitioner assured us that he would recover in several days and it wouldn’t be an issue for our trip. Our friendly taxi driver arrived to drive us to the airport at 6:30pm. We had plenty of time to spare so we ate dinner at the Vineyard Grille where we chatted with our very sociable Brazilian waiter.

Making friends and possibly spreading baby viruses

Making friends and possibly spreading baby viruses

The Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt (8 hours) started off poorly and stayed that way. As soon as we boarded the flight (in priority fashion since we had a baby) Ezra started crying and screaming. This continued for a large portion of the flight. The flight staff were very helpful and although we surely enraged our fellow passengers no one said anything to us. I spent a good deal of time standing up near the bathrooms rocking Ezra. He didn’t want anything to do with the bassinet. Eventually, he fell asleep for a few hours in Beth Ann’s lap. We had a short layover in Frankfurt and then boarded a connecting flight to Istanbul. Getting to the plane required a long bus trip across the tarmac, not sure why. On the flight (2.5 hours), the woman behind us made friends with Ezra and kept cooing to him when he started crying or whining. We thought we were “in” with the Turkish people but on arrival we learned that the couple was actually Brazilian. We took her picture with Ezra, anyway.

Best of Operation Wanderlust

Eight months. Nine countries. Countless bumpy bus rides. Enjoy…

CategoryMarcBeth Ann
Favorite countryArgentina, PeruIt's hard to choose but I was surprised at how much I liked Bolivia, Brazil, and India - all countries I really didn't want to go to.
Favorite large cityArequipa (Peru), Buenos Aires (Argentina)Buenos Aires (Argentina), Arequipa (Peru)
Favorite small cityItacare (Brazil), Vilcabamba (Ecuador)Vicuna (Chile)
Least favorite placeJaipur (India), Banos (Ecuador)Manuas (Brazil), Banos (Ecuador)
Favorite hikePlaza Francia (Aconcagua PP, Argentina), the 'W' (Torres del Paine NP, Chile)The 'W' (Torres del Paine NP, Chile)
Favorite man made sightKuelap (Peru), Taj Mahal (India), Moai (Chile)Kuelap (Peru), Moai (Chile)
Favorite natural sightView from Annapurna Base Camp (Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal), Isla Magdelena (Chile), Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina)Madidi National Park (Bolivia), Iguazu Falls (Argentina), Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina), View from Annapurna Base Camp (Nepal)
Favorite safari sightPink dolphin (Rio Negro, Brazil), Asian rhino (Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal)Macaws (near Madidi National Park, Bolivia), Tucans dancing (Rio Negro, Brazil), Asian rhino (Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal)
Favorite new drinkLassi (India), Caipiranha (Brazil)Chai masala (India), Various vitaminas made with Amazonian fruits (Brazil)
Favorite new foodAlpaca (Peru), Piranha (Brazil)Masala dosa (India)
Most surprising part of the tripAmount of people who wanted to take our photo in India, Safety in Bolivia and BrazilWe didn't get robbed, injured or assaulted (knocking on wood right now). Before leaving on OW we watched the movies Taken and Transsiberian. We thought for sure something very bad would happen.; It IS possible to spend 30 hours on a bus.; It is easier to find wifi in South America than in India.; How much I would miss the US and would want to come home at the end.
Best part of the tripReaching the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, Argentina; Crossing the Thorung La Pass
Worst part of the trip30+ hour travel marathons, Getting bacterial diarrhea (more than once)Being glared at in Nepal
What we are most looking forward at homeCleanliness, Dunkin' Donuts, uninterrupted electricity, lack of pollution, lack of loud honking, lack of open sewers, seeing family and friends, not being stared at, microbrewed draft beer, a Crescent Ridge hot fudge sundaeSeeing family and friends, Stoneyfield's yogurt, a pint of cold beer, going to a movie, Crescent Ridge ice cream, clean air, clean tap water, lack of power outages, a bigger wardrobe, clean clothes, not looking like a slob and not having to pack my bag every couple of days
Most useful item we brought with usSwiss army knife, netbook, earplugs, headlampSwiss army knife, bowl with attached cutting board (thanks, Jess), headlamp, zip lock bags
Least useful item we brought with usTripod, playing cardsTripod
Something that we would have changed about the tripTrip length (too long), Should have bought more souvenir t-shirtsTrip length (too long), should have bought more souvenirs, should have drank better wine in Chile and Argentina, should not have obsessed about meeting our daily budget
Next place we would like to travel toTurkey, Indonesia, trans-Siberian railwayChina, Mongolia, and Russia on the trans-Siberian railway

Best of Operation Wanderlust: Quotes

At some point between Part 1 and Part 2 of Operation Wanderlust we realized that we should have been keeping track of the humorous things that we’ve read, spoken, or overheard.  In Nepal we finally compiled a list and kept adding to it.   Many of the quotes may be amusing only to us but we hope that you get a chuckle or two out of them.

 

 

  1. Are you on spring break?” - MIT student, At our hostel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 2010
  2. Tienes una habitacion por tres personas esta noche?” – Marc, Mistakenly calling the Fire Department due to an error in the Footprint guide book, El Chalten, Argentina, January 2010
  3. El bano esta enfermo.” - Marc, After clogging the toilet at our hotel, Latacunga, Ecuador, September 2009
  4. It’s like going from the minor leagues to the major leagues.” – Marc, Describing the difference between traveling from South America to India, April 2010
  5. Was he cooking those things with his poop hand?” – Beth Ann, Referring to a street vendor cooking fried dough (the left hand is used for cleaning up after #2), Kathmandu, Nepal, March 2010
  6. Give me 200 rupees. You happy, me happy.” - Tour guide/scam artist, Speaking with Marc, Kathmandu, Nepal, March 2010
  7. Where is Patagonia?” - Tourist, Inquiring at the Tourist Information office in Ushuaia, Argentina (which is in Patagonia), Ushuaia, Argentina, January 2010
  8. You are in the most dangerous part of Ushuaia. Leave now.” – Random guy’s brother, Speaking to Marc via cell phone after we strayed into the wrong part of town, Ushuaia, Argentina, January 2010
  9. We’ll never be back again.” – Marc, Anytime he wanted to justify spending money on an activity or meal, Various locations
  10. You WANT to go to India?” - Trekker, After we told him we were crossing overland into India, Kathmandu, Nepal, March 2010
  11. Save caresses for private moments.” – ACAP literature, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, March 2010
  12. Toilet is the toilet. Bathroom is the shower.” – Beth Ann, Explaining the tea house signage to Marc, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, March 2010
  13. Is it coming?” - Safari driver, Asking about the Asian rhino we thought was going to charge us, Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal, April 2010
  14. No wife, no life. No college, no knowledge. No money, no honey. Learn here, burn here.” - Mototaxi driver, Sharing his words of wisdom with us, Varanasi, India, April 2010
  15. Very good seats.” – Ticket taker, Leading us to uncomfortable launch-you-through-the-windshield bench seats in cab of bus, Pokhara, Nepal, April 2010
  16. The Incas must have lived in very short houses.” – Marc, Looking at the Pumapungo ruins (foundations), Cuenca, Ecuador, October 2009
  17. This guy Anomino painted many paintings.” – Beth Ann, Not realizing that “anomino” meant anonymous in Spanish, Cuenca, Ecuador, October 2009
  18. Bugalee, bugalee, boo!” – Woman, Jumping in front of Marc while waving her hands, NJP Train Station, India, April 2010
  19. Nepal Ice – probably the best beer in Nepal.” – Billboard, Kathmandu, Nepal, April 2010
  20. You are not from cricket country.” - Man, Explaining to us why we didn’t understand the game on TV once he heard we are from the United States, Khajuraho, India, April 2010
  21. One side milk. One side no milk.” – Security guard, At a Khajuraho temple explaining the statue of a half-man half-woman, Khajuraho, India, April 2010
  22. Is it a love marriage or an arranged marriage?” - Man, At Modi’s Cyber Cafe speaking to Marc about our marriage, Bikaner, India, May 2010
  23. Was South America safe?” - Czech couple, Had just spent three weeks in Iran, Jaisalmer, India, May 2010
  24. [Sigh]… I wish Jessica and Todd were here.” - Marc, Every few days

Observations: Post Trip Thoughts

Well… we have returned to the United States! I can hear my parents cheering. It turns out eight months may have been a bit too long for us. We’re not quite jaded but still – there are only so many churches, forts, temples and palaces you can visit before they all start to look the same and you stop appreciating them.

 

We are pretty excited to be home. It has been ages since I’ve seen our family and friends. Familiar faces and voices are what we miss the most and there are a few American things we can’t wait to indulge in.  If anyone is interested in Crescent Ridge ice cream, a pint of good beer, or a stop an Dunkin’ Donuts let us know. Also, if you still can’t get a hold of Marc when we return he’ll probably be at the bookstore drinking coffee (we’ve had only a few decent cups in the last year). As far as getting back to “the grind”, you might not believe us but we are both excited about working again. It doesn’t feel like we have contributed much to the world in the last eight months other than tourism revenue and carbon emissions. There is something appealing about getting back to a routine, not living out of a 60L backpack, and being able to choose between more than two pairs of dirty tattered pants.

 

Here are some trip observations that we may have left out of other posts:

 

  1. The “th” sound is a difficult sound for non-English speakers. “Beth Ann” in most countries we’ve visited typically comes out as “Betti-Ann” or less frequently as “Bess Ann”. In Catholic South America, I sometimes just went by Anna. No complaints from me since I could barely speak Spanish and didn’t put much effort into Portuguese, Hindi or Nepali.

  2. No one assumed that Marc was an American: In South America people thought he was Italian or French, with the beard people thought he was Israeli, and in India with the mustache people thought he had a little Indian in him and without it people assumed he was French.

  3. Marc was frequently propositioned by taxi drivers, sadhus (Hindu holy men), and other random people on the street to buy marijuana. You’ll be happy to know (or maybe not) that he declined every time. The frequency of the propositioning increased with the beard.

 

Observations: India

  1. The “head nod” is ubiquitous in India among men, women and children alike. It’s like the A-OK gesture or the thumbs-up in other countries. People do it whenever they’re conversing, but the best part is it can mean almost anything. Some examples are yes, no, maybe, and thanks.

  2. Cows, oxen, and water buffalo are considered sacred and roam the streets of every city and town.  The Hindu god Shiva rides a bull named Nandi which might explain their holy status, or maybe there’s another reason.

  3. Belching aloud is apparently a publicly acceptable activity practiced by men and women alike.

  4. Many men enjoy chewing paan – a red tobacco like substance which stains their teeth and necessitates periodic spitting.

  5. Train bathrooms are just holes in the floor which empty directly onto the tracks.

  6. Tata is the General Motors/Electric of India. They manufacture most of the cars and trucks we’ve seen, along with industrial equipment, appliances, a mobile telecommunications service, and a bunch of other stuff.

  7. Most buses and trucks say “HORN PLEASE” on the back. The use of the horn by any and all types of motor vehicles is excessively loud, gratuitous, and annoying.

  8. Any city or town has numerous tea stalls – small, cheap restaurants serving simple Indian fare. They are open to the street and typically feature a man making chapati over a wood or gas fire pit out front. His secondary duty is to entice passersby into the tea stall. Tea stalls are staffed by teams of men or boys who sometimes sleep in or in front of the restaurant on chowpoys (woven cots) at night.

  9. Women don’t work much, at least not in the restaurants and hotels we’ve frequented or the buses and mototaxis we’ve taken. We have seen women employed as police and in a few shops and one fancy restaurant.

  10. Hindu is practiced by 82% of the population and Islam by 12%. Small components of the population practice Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.

  11. Hindi is the national language and English is the second most common language. The word India in Hindi is Hindustan.