Some of Wednesday's breakfast
We had gotten on the internet this morning to look up things to do. We didn't want to give our driver any more vague directions and end up at another tourist shop. So we told him the first thing we wanted to visit was Birla Mandir, a Hindu temple on a hill overlooking the city. Anthony said no. Really, he was pretty bossy sometimes. He said that it was too hot to go there, because they would make us take off our shoes and walk up barefoot. We never did get around to trying to go there in the evening.
So then we asked him to take us to Shilparamam--a local fair for handicrafts.
At the Shiparamam Crafts Village--Statue of Ganesha behind
The problem with it being very uncrowded at this morning hour was that every shopkeeper we passed by had nothing better to do than try to entice us into his stall. (The shops were all just boxes with open fronts under a common roof.) "It doesn't hurt to look! I give you special discount--first customer of the day!"
We ended up telling several shopkeepers that we had just gotten there, and would be back after we looked around more. They didn't believe us, even though we were sincere to begin with. I actually felt bad about not going back to one of those shops where they were selling embroidered leather slippers--Anika had requested a pair and this was the best pair I ever ended up seeing, but also the first pair, so what did I know?
Gracia found a shop that sold saris but the owner didn't speak English. Luckily, a very charismatic scarf stall owner we had spoken to just down the row came and translated. She ended up getting three very pretty saris for about $22 each, which was a definite improvement over $140 each.
They brought us chairs to sit on and offered us tea. We exchanged brief explanations of our religious backgrounds, arising from the fact that we don't drink tea, and then he proceeded to educate us on the history and value of Pashmina scarves. (In case you want to know, only the finest hair from the belly and tail of a very special goat gets to be called Pashmina (pash=fine, mina=wool) and only the very finest hair from the chin of said goat gets to be called Shamina (shah=king, mina=wool.)
I ended up buying a carved wooden elephant for Meredith, and nothing else.
While we were there, some men with a camera and microphone tried to get us to record a segment wishing everyone a happy Ugadi (the local New Year/Spring celebration.) They didn't speak much English, and we didn't speak any Telugu, so that was pretty awkward. I hope they gave it up, otherwise I think we will have badly represented the people of Utah on local Channel 1.
Then Anthony called and wanted to know how much longer we were going to be. We told him 45 minutes and hurried around trying to see the rest of the place. I'm pretty sure we missed a lot of it.
There are so many beautiful crafts that they are known for in India. It made me wonder, what do tourists buy when they come to the U.S? Cowboy boots? Junk food?
Leaving Shilparamam. Note the big screen TV behind me in the thatched roof hut.
We joined up with Casey and Dan and one of their coworkers, Sunita, to go to a regular shop where Indian ladies would go to buy sarees. She brought her mother-in-law and they started showing us the kind of fancy, $100+ saris that we had seen before. I tried to indicate that we wanted something that was not silk, so they showed us the super fancy cotton saris. Eventually, we wandered upstairs and found some tunics to buy.
Me, Gracia, Sunita's mother-in-law, and Sunita. Sunita bought herself a couple of nicer saris while she was there. They take the extra fabric at the end of the sari and make a blouse out of it for you. I didn't have that done, since their blouses are not something I could wear. You see a lot of midriff in India, and no one thinks anything of it.
Then we all went back to the hotel for dinner at their buffet. It was good, but not as good as their breakfast buffet. Did I mention that the breakfast was complimentary?
The view from our bathroom through the glass wall into our bedroom. They gave us two full size beds instead of a king.
Our hotel was built around a central courtyard from ground floor to ceiling. When we first walked in in the middle of the night, it felt like being at the bottom of a well.