Okay we didn’t really party in the Punjab per sé, but I did get pretty drunk after the seminar because it was hands down the most stressful day of the whole trip so far. Plus the people were very friendly and welcoming, and everyone stayed to eat dinner after the event.
Our journey began as we landed in Chandigar airport in the state of Punjab, and needed to use the bathroom.
Oh no, Toto! We’re not in Tokyo anymore! Where is my seat heater and my lulling music??? My choice between soft spray and bidet functions??? Such a harsh reality!
Yet I found this facility surprisingly easy-breezy and low maintenance. Splash and go, people!
The three hour plus drive to Ludhiana from Chandigar was our first substantial experience with how people drive in India. Wow. It is completely insane. Nobody pays any attention to the lines on the road – actually things almost seem less chaotic when the lines are missing – and they play a constant game of chicken the entire time they’re on the road. That is to say, oncoming traffic weaves in and out of one’s lane with frightening regularity.
There’s all kinds of traffic in the road – trucks, cars, motorcycles, entire nuclear families on one scooter, horse-drawn carriages, cows, bulls…anything goes!
All the trucks have signs painted on the back (see below) that say Blow Horn or Horn Please which doesn’t make any sense until you see how people sneak up behind each other to overtake the lane. If you don’t constantly honk, you will likely die. Plus the way they paint their trucks is very cool.
The little 3-wheel taxis are called ‘tuk-tuks’ and they are beetling around everywhere, sometimes with ten people inside and out, hanging on at high speeds as in the picture below here. You can barely see the car! This driver is going about 80km/hr.
Also, human beings move giant things here. Wouldn’t you want these guys to help you move?
Our driver spoke absolutely NO English by the way, and had absolutely NO interest in trying, so we learned nothing about the Punjab along the way. He was also extremely surly, and when I tipped him he gave me this weird half tilt of his head with what I think was maybe 10% of a smile, then he went back to being surly. I consider that a victory. I would have taken his picture but I was too scared. And just our luck, we had him on the way OUT of town too!
However we did learn lots from the YPO seminar participants later. The Punjab is where the largest population of Sikhs are based, a monotheistic religion – not like the Hindus who have so many gods that they seem to be celebrating one or the other for about half the year. The Punjab is also home to the famous Golden Palace built in Amritsar by the 5th Sikh guru. There was a lot more, but someone kept refilling my wine.
Our hotel was beautiful with a huge lobby and very long corridors. Ava got two dozen roses upon arrival! We had a view of Ludhiana…
The night of the presentation was very stressful. We did buy a lap top at the Delhi airport to replace our crashed Mac Air, but we both forgot how little we know about configuring PCs, and we had to get Ava’s tech guru Chance to log in remotely from L.A., then figure out how to re-vamp the whole presentation incorporating the feedback from the first session, and run it without a hitch.
As it was getting down to the wire, Ava had about three minutes to primp while I madly edited slides as the people were getting seated. I tell you, I deserved my many glasses of Indian white wine at the end of this day. Thankfully the seminar was a success and the Ludhiana participants gave us very positive feedback.
I did check out another hotel bar with a few of the seminar participants after we closed the event down. This was perhaps the most surprising part of my whole adventure in the Punjab – the businessman was listening to Bryan Adams in his luxury SUV. I got my first real 6-string, bought it at the suvidhā kī dukāna…
And now we have four days off! First to Agra to see the Taj Mahal – the TAJ MAHAL!!! Then to Dharamshala, to be taught by the Dalai Lama – the DALAI LAMA!!! Stay tuned.