The Mystery of Mr. Mistry

As I sit here and question my life choices.

Yesterday we were given the total VIP treatment. We went to visit not one, but two diamond factories.

My uncle went to school with a gentleman who owns Lexus SoftMac. If you picked up this card off the street you’d have no clue who he is and what they do unless you googled it.

I knew we were going to see a diamond factory but I didn’t know anything more than that when we left the hotel. We drove across the river and into a Gem and Jewelry park in Surat, India.

As we pulled into a parking lot, Uncle mentioned he did the landscaping for the company. I figured he just knew the company based on that fact.  NO!  It turns out Mr. Utpal Mistry grew up with my Uncle and they are very good friends. Mr.Mistry owns a company that makes diamond cutting machinery and they cut large diamonds.

How large? The one he handed me was the size of a large marble and was valued around $4.5 Million.

4.5 Million Dollar Diamond

Stones, Rocks, Diamonds!

He handed us these stones like they were worth nothing! I will admit I was incredibly shocked that I was holding stones like that. We are walking through the factories with the owners of the companies and the employees are looking at us . We are assuming the thought that was going through their heads were who are these people?

My neighbor back home works for Zale’s so she visits Surat on a fairly regular bases. She said she might be able to try and pull some strings and get us a small tour as this isn’t something the public is just allowed to visit. She is sweet and thoughtful like that.

I think my uncle had more pull and got us the tour of a lifetime. Mr. Mistry was amazing. He was so nice and willing to take us on a tour to see the gems and even let us handle them. I cannot even describe how amazing it was to even be there and see the process.

Uncle, YOU ROCK! You are truly a diamond of a man. You sir shine bright like a diamond. Lucy in the sky with diamonds, diamonds are forever. Every kiss begins with Kay… wait that doesn’t work.

Something around 80% of the worlds diamond are cut in India.  The fact we were on the tour and that Mr Mistry took time from his busy day to share this with us was so incredible.

On a side note:

I have been noticing a weird trend in India. Some men, in really nice suits, wearing sandals. I understand it is because they remove their shoes a lot.  It is just funny for me to see.

When I get home I will have to upload photos solely about the diamond factory because I was allowed to take pictures everywhere! I am not going show some things, but I will show you things like the gems and other pictures I doubt would be a security threat. I wasn’t told I couldn’t post any of the pictures, I just believe it is better to be on the safe side.  Also out of respect to our most gracious host.

Diamonds

$4.5 Million Dollar Diamond

Today was a very normal day for Grandpa and I. We held a $4.5 million dollar diamond today, like it was nothing.

I am only meeting 6 family members while I am in India.  I wish we had the time and the ability to meet more. They are truly the salt of the earth.

Tonight I am bringing a taste of my cooking to India.  I am cooking for the family, which is as it might seem to be, a hard task.  You see,  my family here are all Hindu and only eat Vegetarian. I am a red blooded American and I so love eating meat.  I don’t really cook much vegetables at all, much less “vegetarian”. On top of that, they do not use the milk of a cow.  They will use the milk of a water buffalo. We will see how dinner turns out.

Sugar Cane Juice

We have been drinking sugar cane juice since we arrived in Surat.  This is only a problem as we have gotten a taste of the good life and we don’t have sugar cane juice shops in Texas and California. This could prove to be difficult when we return to the sugar cane free lifestyle.

Tomorrow we leave for Mumbai on a train. I am not sure how I feel about that. On one hand I want to see Mumbai and continue my trip of visiting India.  Sadly, on the other hand I have home cooked Indian meals and amazing family that I am not ready to leave.

Train to Mumbai

I was unable to finish this yesterday due to timing so I am picking this up on the train to Mumbai.

Cooking and Sharing Tunes

Last night we were picked up by Uncle who took us to the market to meet up with my aunt.  Here we purchased the ingredients for dinner. I made a super simple pasta dish that I make back home. Grandpa and Uncle went to meet up with someone, so auntie and I went back to the house and cooked. This gave us an hour of time to get to know each other. I asked if she listened to music while cooking and she said she did but only when Uncle is gone. He doesn’t like that she is a stone cold rocker! *puts up the rock fist* Granted I didn’t find this out until she was listening to my iPod and started listening to 30 Seconds to Mars. This is also the woman who is training for base camp on Everest. Hardcore.

What I Miss from Home

So I am missing a few more things today, such as Dr Pepper and Fajitas. Cheese is used so differently here that am really missing that too. They say home is where the heart is, but I agree with the saying that home is where your devices connect to wifi automatically. Hotel wifi is spotty at best and trying to upload the photos is proving to be harder and harder the farther south we go.

It is curious how many people have been so intrigued by the fact that I work with firearms for a living. I figured most people would be like Americans who are afraid of firearms but is it quite the contrary. People seem to like them here a lot. Even the young ladies I have been talking with.

I guess an Indian wife might not be that bad, if I can find the right one.

Love and Marriage

Love and marriage has been a topic for the past few days between grandpa and I. We have been discussing a young lady who I fancy. It is hard for him to believe, based on the nature of the situation, that I have developed real feelings towards her. I trust him and take his counsel on a number of matters. On this, I think we have come to an impasse.

We talk about finding someone for me and that has been a running joke for the whole trip. I will say this, I leave it in Gods hands as to who I end up with. The Good Lord above has given me many people who I deeply care about, regardless of what we call them after the smoke has cleared.  I look forward to seeing what God has in store me.

Song of the day:

In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

This has to do with a web series I have been watching for about 8 months now. I hadn’t heard the song until they started accidently singing it, not knowing it was a real song.

The ghetto back home and the poor there have nothing compared to the poor here in India. This place, although very poor isn’t a welfare country. People work for a living and don’t expect the government to handle their laziness. While they might not be pulling themselves out of poverty, they are at least working in one form or another.

Wait have you been reading this whole article just to find out about the diamonds? Sorry. I got side tracked.

So we met up with…..to be continued tomorrow……

Sugar Cane Juice and Models

(No photos, the internet in our Surat hotel is horrible and I just can’t get anything uploaded.  My apologies)

Complete Strangers, Instant Family

I am really loving seeing and meeting family from India. They are all so amazing. Last night we met with the Widow of my grandfathers childhood friend. Her daughters were there and drove a long way just to see my grandfather. We walked into the home and it wasn’t who is this stranger it was more of welcome to the family.

I have never felt more at home with complete strangers. By the end of the night they weren’t strangers, they were just part of my Indian family. As I stay here longer and longer the more family I am seemingly going home with. I like that.

Eating

I go through cycles of eating very little and eating everything in sight. About two days before boarding the plane for India, I knew I was about to start eating a lot less. Back home this really is never a problem.  I take care of myself and eat when I am hungry. Here I have started to run into the problem that when I am with family and I am not eating as much everyone is worried.  They are worried that  I am going to go hungry. The truth is,  I am just not eating that much of one thing,  but I am trying everything.

My family, god bless them, are wanting to help and find a way to fix this.  They are very concerned about my health and but I am happy and very healthy.

Signs That I am Growing Up

I have been wanting to turn on the American news stations so I can find out the news I want to hear about. Elections! Sadly Aljazeera will have to do until I get home.

The Pyro in Me

I am seeing all the fires that are set in India thinking back to my days of being a pyro. (Not really, I just liked started the campfires in Boy Scouts).  Then I smell the smoke and I miss my gas mask. Such a strange place.

The Ocean

Today we saw the ocean.  Then we met back up with my uncle who joined us in the Jungle and his family. I find it interesting that being on the other side of the world we do not have pictures of family like they do. We have albums with photos from years ago.  Here, they have  photos of my grandfather and grandmother when they visited in the 70’s posted on their wall. Kinda cool.

Today is Valentine’s day and I am without a Valentines! Not that it is a bad thing, but if anyone sees my grandpa and I, we just say I am his bodyguard 😉

India is Truly a Place Worth Visiting.

I have found that I have a place to crash any time I am in India seemingly anywhere.

Song of the day:

Polarized – Imagine Dragons

Planes, Trains, and Vans?!!?

(No photos, the internet in our Surat hotel is horrible and I just can’t get anything uploaded.  My apologies)

Okay, so maybe this is just the head cold hitting me but I am starting to feel like myself being here in India and the traffic is normal. This isn’t a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love being here.   But things should not be normalizing for me!! This means when I get home, I am going to miss not being able to breathe!

Family…Lots of Family

Now, so let’s talk about Grandpa and family.

These people are so amazing! The fact that they are giving me a trip of a lifetime like this, it is truly something there are no words.  I can’t find any  to use that express how thankful I am to be here with them. My grandfather is amazing person and I wish I could share him with everyone, but he is my grandpa, so BACKOFF!!

Yesterday we took a van ride from the Gir Jungle to Ahmadabad.  From there we hopped on a train that took us here to Surat where our family lives. It was a very long trip for two people with colds to take, but we are badasses and we pushed through it.

Catching some ZZZZZ’s

Today we slept soooooo late (845am). We managed to make our way down to breakfast before we walked over to our families home. They took us to visit my grandfathers old home from the 1930s. This house is still owned by my family from my understanding.

It is 4pm local time and I am chatting with a friend of mine back home who is Indian. I am looking forward to being home and sharing this adventure with them. I am not loving the bouncing from hotel to hotel. I understand that it is a small sacrifice to be able to see as much as we are.

Notes for Traveling & Adventure:

· Unless I know I need more than one than one button down shirt, I need to trade them in for nice looking long sleeve shirts.

· This trip has made me realize that spending money on things like new iphones or having to get the latest and greatest isn’t always what it is cracked up to be.  I should be saving that money to visit other places in the world. I see that now monkey.

· I need better luggage.

· I need to activate a world data plan with my cell phone.

· This Leatherman Tread is an amazing Photographers tool.

· Always change your battery pack in the morning before leaving for your daily adventure.  Even if you only took 5 pictures the day before.

· Be an open person. Try new things. Be willing to adapt to change when you are traveling.

· If you take over a weeklong trip to another country, you should always have one meal that is from back home. I had a subway sandwich yesterday and wow was it different.

· Smile at everyone.

· If you meet an elder, even if you are not related, point your camera and gesture that you would like to take their picture. They love it! I am not keen on taking pictures of children, as that is seen as stranger danger back home. I don’t want someone mistaking my actions as less than appropriate. However, this is okay if the kids pose for you to take their picture. Or they are just too funny to miss.

· Drink more water!

· Stay more organized so when you move from hotel to hotel, it is a faster easier process.

· Travel with people who are adaptable and willing to try things.

· Travel alone. See the world without the need to be on anyone elses’ timeframe.

· Make notes about the places you visit and review the places online so others can hear your thoughts.

· Buy a 6ft charger for your phone.

· Buy a nice camera and lens and learn how to use it months before going!

· Have a laptop that you like and know how to use well. This goes against what I said earlier about not needing the best and newest gadgets.  These have been important for me to be able to share my thoughts with family back home. I am working on getting a new laptop when I get home.

· Remember that everything costs.

· Have the balls to be the first to try something. Don’t be a follower.

· If you are single, use dating apps like tinder when visiting new places. You’ll always meet new friends. You can use them for dating but if you have no plans on living there, use it for friends and be open and honest about that.

· Listen to music. Create a playlist that you can have playing in your ear while you relax for the day and share your thoughts. Even if it is with no one but yourself in a journal, listen to music and put your thoughts down on a laptop or on paper. It makes for an amazing way to reflect.

· People are nice but always use the safe in your room.

· Be happy and smile, you are visiting places that are incredible in their own ways.

Song of the day:

Mumford and Sons – Believe (Acoustic)

As I said before, this has nothing to do with India, but it is the song I am listening to while writing this.

G, I think even you would like this song.

The Gir Jungle: Safari Time

The True Lion King Part 1 of 2

 

Monkey In Gir

Hello, I will be your guide today…..

Today is Thursday the 11th and I am in the Gir Jungle. Time: 1:22pm

Today I didn’t wake up feeling like P-Diddy. I woke up feeling more Kurt Cobain (post 1994). Grandpa has a cold and since we are sharing hotel rooms and really never apart, I have picked up his cold.

I Feel Another Rant Coming On

I would like to complain for a minute if I may. I was told by my grandfather that we are coming on this trip to find me a bride and yet all I have seen him do is ignore his one job. I am not bringing him on these trips anymore if he cannot even do the one thing he was charged with.

Complaint hour over.

Travel Day

So yesterday was a blow-off day. We spent the whole day flying and driving so I didn’t have much to write about. Sorry. We have internet in the room so I am able to keep publishing articles. In case some of you are wondering, I am writing the articles, uploading the photos to dropbox and having my mother upload the article to the website. That way, I am not spending my whole trip in front of a laptop waiting for things to load.

I had plans to vlog this trip, but with the speeds of the internet here, I decided I would rather not hassle with it.

Family Finally

We have met up with a family member of mine who lives in India. He is the one who planned the lion part of the trip. (Very nice man by the way).

This morning we woke up at 5 to head to the jungle. This is the best time to see if we could spot the lions in the preserve. We saw 8 lions (6 cubs and two large females), a pack of boars, a bunch of deer, a camel with the water buffalo, and a boat load of birds like peacocks.

The gentleman we met last night at dinner said they had not had any luck seeing lions, so I felt pretty lucky.

Luggage

I have been dreading this, but it is time to grow up and buy adult luggage. I have been traveling enough now that owning cheap cheap luggage is more hassle than it’s worth. Especially if you are going to be flying something like 28,000 miles in 7 weeks.

This trip has taught me that living out of a backpack and one checked suitcase works great for me. I will been in India and Dubai for almost a month and I would say in the two bags I have OVER packed.

I am really thinking about losing my skateboarders (fits a skateboard between the two pockets) backpack. I have used this for traveling for years. I think I should move over to a carry on size rolling suitcase with a small flat duffle bag that fits in an outer pocket for my new carry on.

Fortuna Audaces Iuvat (Fortune Favors the Bold)

I love this saying. I can be quite talkative in my own realm. Other times I like to be quiet and be with what I am working on. We had a second safari today that started at 330pm. Grandpa is sick and so he opted to sleep rather than join my cousin and I on our adventure.

Having no idea what animals might be active near the road, the safari started off slow but we stopped every now and then to take pictures of the deer, the trees and monkeys but hey we are here for the lions so come on!

Big Cats Ahead

After about 30 minutes we drove past a gentleman who had a big smile on his face and two thumbs up… if you have never been in the jungle that is slang for big cat ahead.

Fortune favors the bold is something that popped in my head while I was ruminating on what I was seeing in the Gir jungle. I can’t really describe why this has been part of my thoughts but it reminded me to always jump in feet first into everything you do in life.

Gir Jungle Lion

Ain’t she sweet?

Two Lion cubs in Gir Jungle

Two Lion Cubs out for a stroll

Lion Gotta Go

She is so BIG!

 

Chital Spotted Deer

Chital Spotted Deer

 

Water buffalo

Water Buffalo

Monkey 2

Monkey waiting on the side of the road for a ride?

Monkey 3

Never mind!

 

Indian Food

My family is Texan but they don’t really enjoy spicy foods. Before this trip my father and grandfather were worried about find me something to eat in India. To be honest, I think they were making Indian food out to be a bigger boogieman than it really is.

I walked into India with the goal of trying everything. Food, adventure, you name it: I want it! I would say that has paid off. I am now in love with Indian food. My cousin has shared with me that home cooked Indian meals are not as spicy as most of the places we’ve eaten at. Honestly I like the level of spice everywhere we have eaten.

Speaking of Food

I have to walk to dinner, now so I will sign off here. Well, one last thing I want to share. This is the song I am listening to right now. This has nothing to do with India or anything else, but I am in love with the song and I want to share it with you.

The Dangerous Summer – The Permanent Rain

Youtube the song if you are interested.

Lion The End

The End

Jet Lag Hits!

 

It was bound to happen.  Jet Lag, Drop Box isn’t loading, internet speed is slow.  Just too frustrated to go on.  I will catch you up when I can. 

But I did realize in all that, you hadn’t seen a single photo of my amazing grandfather.  Here Grandpa. 

Grandpa in New Dehli

Also, Grandpa did a great graphic of our trip and thought I would share that real quick so you will know where we are going.  Fantastic, right?

Map of 2016 India Trip with Atticus

India is a very large country and we will see a large portion in a months time and yet see such a small part…..

You are thinking what I am thinking!

Another trip.  Of Course.