Backpacking India: Settling In

4 days in and we’re slowly getting used to life in India.

We’ve kind of figured out how much the auto-rickshaws should cost and how to bargain a little. We’re comfortable with public transportation (at least the suburban trains, we haven’t braved a bus yet). We’re acclimatizing to the heat and are better at staying hydrated. We acquired a local sim card for my cellphone so we can stay connected. The constant honking is still unbearable but we’re getting used to it. And our sleep schedules are almost normal – we’re still waking up and going to bed early, but we’re at least awake for dinner.

Getting a local sim card was an involved process, but I followed the steps on indiamike and it worked out fine. I took my passport and visa, drivers license, a passport sized photo, and our hotel receipt to a Vodafone store a few blocks from our hotel and within 3 hours my number was activated.

It is surprisingly cheap. For 200 rupees (less than $4), I got a new sim card, lots of talk time, and 400 MB of data.

If you want to send Emily a birthday greeting, you can now call or text us at 011 + 91 +  9962492508. The best time to call is between 8 and 10 am in India. Send texts whenever you want.

Ladies Train

The suburban train system in Chennai is cool. Prices vary depending on how far you go, but the most we’ve paid is 5 rupees each (10 cents). The trains are very gender segregated. They have special cars and sometimes whole trains reserved for ladies. I’m sure it makes the women feel safer in those cars, but the flip side is the women in the mixed cars are even more outnumbered by men.

We managed to switch rooms at our hotel. Now we have a cheaper non-AC room that faces a quiet garden instead of the busy street. It is amazing.

There is enough variety here, that eating Indian food for every meal hasn’t become boring yet. It has caused some mild indegesgtion but nothing too serious.

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