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

Jaipur: City of Eaten Shoes?

 

Jaipur – The city That Ate My Grandfather… or at least his shoe…

Scene one Act one

So there we were, on a trip to ride the Elephants in Jaipur.  Little did we know that our story wasn’t going to end happily without the city taking its cut.

THE SHOE

As always, we had a fairly normal morning. Minus the fact that the credit card, which was stolen in Dubai, has yet to arrive. This caused us to change course for a moment to call the bank trying to locate the card.  Since we are hopping on a plane for the Gir Jungle tomorrow morning, this needs to be taken care of. Sadly we will have to wait until we get to Surat for the card to be delivered.

Elephant Ride

77

We met up with Ram and our guide to ride an elephant up to Amber Fort. The Fort that ate my grandpa.

The Fort was interesting and I took a ton of photos. By the end of the tour however, I noticed that part of my grandfathers shoe was missing.

Clearly we are not going to stand by for that! So we are demanding that the Fort and the city of Jaipur pay for new shoes for the rest of my grandfather’s life. Also we demand that whenever he has a long walk ahead of him, no matter where in the world, that Jaipur supplies him a private elephant ride, since he enjoys the butt massage he got on his elephant ride. On top of all that we demand the Fort itself (the building) hand writes an apology letter for eating his shoe. You might be asking what if they do not meet our demands? Well then we just will not return to Jaipur in the month of February in the year 2016 after the 9th.

In all Seriousness, the Fort was Beautiful.

The winter side is covered in mirrors and is beautifully painted.

Amber Fort Wall of Mirrors

 

Amber Fort 9

Amber Fort 8

Amber Fort 7

Amber Fort 4

Amber Fort 5

Amber Fort 3

Amber Fort 2

Amber Fort 11

Amber Fort 12

Amber Fort 14

Amber Fort 15

Amber Fort 6

 

Amber Fort 1

 

 

The water garden is where they are growing the dyes for refinishing the art work on the Amber Fort.

The Elephants (can) bring you to the Fort itself but you have to walk back to the car. The elephants are only available in the morning, so if you are visiting be sure to get there early.

The Guide

So as I have said, the guide we had the first day in Delhi was amazing.  The guide we had in Agra loves what he does and it shows when he gives the tours of the Taj Mahal.  Then the third guide was a total and complete let down.

When we started the tour today at Amber Fort our guide didn’t seem to have a good attitude. I am with my 86 year old grandfather who plays tennis three days a week.  He is a tad bit shorter than I am, so his strides don’t match up to those of us with longer legs. I asked the guide to slow down, as my grandfather doesn’t walk super fast.  The guides comment to me was, “ well you come up here” implying to leave my grandfathers side.

I don’t need to be at my grandfathers side to help him walk or anything.  I am here on a trip with MY GRANDFATHER! and I’d like to stay with him thank you. I wasn’t sure what to make of this gentleman, as first impressions were seemingly rude with an attitude.  But as we started the tour, the man started to open up and become more alive. Once that happened, the tour became very pleasant and enjoyable.

My grandfather has visited all of these places a number of different times over the years.  This trip really is for me (thank you again Grandpa.) This is nice, because when the guides share that we can go off and take pictures, Grandpa tends to stay with the guide and talk. I find it interesting because I am seemly only gone for a minute or two.  However by the time I get back, the guide knows so much more about us. Time warp. My grandfather is a superhero and can stop time. This is the only logical explanation.

The Colors

I am in love with most parts of India. I am in love with the colors especially. The women wearing the beautiful Sari’s and the colors of the cities. It is sad to see how dirty India is, but they even decorate their cars here! How can you not find this beautiful?

Jaipur, or at least old Jaipur is known as the Pink City.  In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. Since pink denotes the color of happiness, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur made sure  the whole city was pink to welcome the guests. It is now the law that all buildings in Old Jaipur must be pink.  However, most of the buildings are built with the local stone, which is naturally pink.

To the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle

This may be my last post for a few days as we are heading into the jungle and I doubt there will be internet for me to publish the articles. If this is the case I will still be writing each day and I will just post them when we arrive in Surat.

Sunday Do Over

Here are the photos:

I am awake, the internet is working, dropbox is up

Atticus first rickshaw ride

My first Rickshaw ride…sweet

carpet handmade

We saw how they handmade carpets

 

carpet pattern

 

No one pulls over for the bomb squad

NO ONE pulls over and lets the bomb squad thru… with lights and sirens running?????  Really????

Things you see while driving

 

colorful street market

food vendor - Copy

 

silver doors - Copy

Fruit Stand - Copy

Medical Clinic - Copy

Royal Enfield - Copy

side street - Copy

School girls wave hello - Copy

sign overload - Copy

the electric grid

We visited a ancient mosque:

The Qutab Complex

Qutab Complex

IMG_1294

IMG_1296

IMG_1323

Qutab 1

Qutab 2 Qutab 4 Qutab 5

 

Red Fort 6

 

 

Qutab 6

 

mosque

Mosque

Mosque

Mosque

Mosque

New Delhi

IMG_1518

old

Old

in the middle of new

in the middle of new

Well, Grandpa is ready to go

Grandpa says no more photos

Grandpa is ready to go

Please honk! – New Delhi

Horn Please

Driving in New Delhi

Thoughts that don’t seem to go through Indian drivers heads

· Why is this guy honking at me?

· Did he just cut me off?

· Pick a lane bro!

· Man that guy almost hit me!

· Why are there people walking where I am driving?!!?!

· My car is unique and stands out in a parking lot

Traffic in Delhi

All kidding aside watching our driver yesterday was interesting to say the least. Watching him drive makes me appreciate the road ways in Texas.

 

police car Delhi

Lotus Temple

 

We left the hotel and went to the Lotus Temple, a Bahá’í House of Worship.  The outside is beautiful and amazing and is made of white marble.

Lotus Temple

After that, we went to a Hindu temple, The Akshardham Temple.  This Temple  does not allow technology inside the gates. It was interesting getting inside the walls as the security is a cross between prison security meets theme park security meets airport security. I was stupid and forgot I had a flash light in my pocket.  Thankfully the guard was nice and let me pick up my flashlight on the way out.

Akshardham Temple

 

If you want to go inside the main temples you have to remove your shoes.  Once you are inside, it is all hand craved walls and gold everywhere.  It was just beautiful.  This Temple and the Lotus Temple are both fairly new.

Akshardham temple is worth checking out if you are ever in New Delhi. Over 70% of tourist visit here.  I would recommend Googling it.  There are pictures online of the temple and it is really beautiful.

I stopped taking pictures after we left the Akshardham.  I had only slept 3-4 hours since since leaving on Wednesday (we saw the temple on Friday 02-05-16). I just couldn’t see straight anymore. When I got back to the hotel at 4pm I laid down and passed out until 4am on Saturday.

Next up is a guided tour of Delhi.  You can bet I will be taking a million photos just to try and give you a small taste of what we are seeing over here. This place is incredible.

Atticus James

LAX to Dubai and on to India (Delhi)

 

Emirates A380

The A380

Okay, my grandfather surprised me and didn’t tell me that we were flying business class to Dubai and then on to Delhi. I have flown first class once before, from Dallas to Cabo San Lucas, when I was 17. THIS WAS NOT THE SAME!

Anyone who likes or follows planes knows that the Airbus A380 is a monster. If they haven’t seen it or flown on, they know that it is a “bucket list” plane. Why?

· It holds 500 people!

· It has TWO floors!

· It requires 3 jet ways to load the plane!

A380

Okay so maybe I am just a bit excited right now, but you would be the same in my place.

The Triple 7 (777) holds 360 people so you can see the A380 is a beast and a wonderment to our ability to build planes that are bigger and more awesome.

After the flight from LA to Dubai, I am currently in the 777 flying to Delhi Airport in India and I have to say, this is an old plane. The 777 is a twenty-year-old design and it’s just not as nice as the A380.

The 777

The plane is a cigar tube with wings. If you have ever been on a flight with someone like American for non-international travel you can pretty well figure out what first and business class looks like on the 777. A wall to divide the classes and not much else. screen timeelse.

First VS Business Class?

I was texting with family while I was on the flight to Dubai. They asked what first class had that business didn’t and honestly I am not sure. I know first class has a shower but the seating pods were the same. I know they had to pay for Wi-Fi just like the rest of us but I don’t know what the difference really was. I will have to look it up at some point.

The Food

Wow, okay, so let’s talk food. I told my peeps (that is gangster for people because I’m AN OG!) when I get home I think I will be thinner. I figure due to the change in how and what I eat. After eating on the A380 I think I might become fatter. WOW! the food was amazing. Side note: I am smelling the food served on this four hour flight and I am getting hungry again for dinner. (FYI I just ate breakfast 2 hours ago on the last plane).

Breakfast

Emirates

I don’t want to give away too much in regards to my upcoming review of Emirates but I will say this… if you are taking a long haul they are worth looking into.

I understand that most people cannot afford business or first class (myself included) but trust me when I say that as someone with a bad back, I have never slept so well or been in so little pain after a flight. It is crazy. This is because the seats aren’t cramped. They are open, you have room to move around in and you can make a nice little nest for your flight.

Dinner

My Final Thoughts for Today

I have the coolest grandpa ever. We are somewhere in the sky and I am just so blessed to be on this trip. I give my thanks to God and to my grandfather because if this trip was not meant to happen God would have shown us that. The skies have been clear and we are ready to take a trip of a lifetime.

Traffic In India

Traffic outside the airport in India at 3am.  Crazy, right???