May 31: We arrived at the Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA, airport at 6:30 AM, got checked in and on the plane. That evening we arrived in Amsterdam and could not find Tim Lawlor (he was supposed to meet us there). We assume he missed his flight and we will continue on to India.

June 1: We arrived in Delhi, India on June 1 at 10:30 PM (Grand Forks time). So it only took about 40 hours to get here! After arrival, we spent 1.5 hours getting through immigration and another 1.5 hours trying to convince customs agents that we were not trying to bring telescopes into the country to sell (on the black market). The Indian customs officials didn't buy our story and "detained" (ie confiscated) our equipment. At least our hotel rooms were still available - all is not lost.

June 2: We contacted the U.S. Embassy here in Delhi and found someone to help us get our equipment back from the Indian customs officials. With a GREAT deal of assistance from Mr. R. K. Vasan (U.S. Embassy) and Mr. Avinash Dikshit (Indian Deptartment of Science and Technology) we retrieved our equipment. We also verified that Tim Lawlor did miss his flight and that he should be arriving tonight.
June 3: Tim Lawlor arrived in Delhi, India and we got him through customs without any problems. We spent the rest of the day roaming the bazaars looking for equipment we could not bring (due to weight restrictions). We found a battery and charger at the "battery bazaar." Here is a picture of our battery charger being "retrieved" and here is a picture of the "computer bazaar." Finally, we did take the time to visit the Baha'i temple.

June 4: We spent the day setting the telescopes and testing equipment. We verified that most of the equipment was working. However, we forget to buy a couple of cables and adapters, so we could not test everything - back to the bazaars!
June 5: We set up the equipment again for more testing (to verify the power systems will hold up under the load and heat). We discovered that one of our network cables was bad and that we need another power cable. Ugh - back to the bazaars! Otherwise, everything worked as expected and the weather was good - it was humid (as usual), but there was a breeze and it was only 108 above (compared to the normal 115 - 118 above). June 6: All of the bazaars are closed on Sundays, so we were unable to find what we needed. In the afternoon, we visited Delhi's Nehru planetarium and held an informal discussion with the staff and students. Aside from discussing the transit, we also talked about graduate school in the U.S. and did some graduate recruiting. Sunday evening we attended Vishu and Pratibha's Buddhist wedding. The wedding was very different from American weddings, much more colorful and jovial - it was a very nice. The bride and groom looked wonderful. The bride was dressed in a traditional Indian sari with gold thread and wore a lot of gold jewelry - she was gorgeous (see the picture below).

Click HERE for pictures (and videos) of the wedding.

June 7: Our initial plan was to align the telescopes to the North Star today. However, two of us were ill, so we did not accomplish much. We did get a power cable, a longer network cable and some USB cables and the embassy put up a large sun shade for us (and visitors) to sit under.

June 8: The morning started off great with a forecast of clear skies. Well - the forecast was wrong (surprise) and we had a dust storm which brought things to a halt, tore down the tent and knocked over the tables. Then it rained a little. It did clear up in time to see the egress of the transit (however, the webcam did not have the sensitivity to see through the clouds). Overall, it was a success and many people (27,000+) visited our web site on June 8 alone. Finally, many thanks to Katya Wolsey for providing food, beverage and dinner.

June 9: We headed off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It's only 125 miles, but due to traffic and road conditions it takes about 4 hours to get there (if you drive straight through).

June 10: We saw the Taj Mahal (stunning - a must see) and the Agra Fort (very impressive). We also made the mistake of buying items from street venders and quickly found ourselves mobbed! We literally had to force our way back to our taxi and pull the doors shut (or, in 1 case, shut the door on their fingers to get them to release the door). Finally, it was a lovely day - sunny, humid and hot (118 above).

June 11: We headed back to Delhi and got Tim Lawlor packed for his return trip to the U.S. and visited a few more sites in Delhi (Lodi Park and a Hindu temple). It would appear that Tim made it through customs as he did not call for help!

June 12: We decided to take a break from the heat and ventured off to a "hilltop station" (where the British would vacation to escape the heat during their colonial days). We headed off to Shimla - a city high in the Himalaya Mountains in the former Tibet. From Delhi, the journey takes about 9 hours by taxi. For our return trip to Delhi, we have decided to take the train (including the narrow gauge train from Shimla to Kalka that passes through 123 tunnels). Shimla is a sight as it is built up the side of the mountain - I'll post pictures as words cannot describe it.

June 13: We trekked up to the Monkey temple on a hill overlooking Shimla. What a climb - very steep. At the top we encountered many monkeys who were not afraid of people and would take food away from you (if you had the audacity not to share with them). We also wandered through the shopping district looking for bargains. Finally, as I posted before Shimla is built up the side of a steep mountain (it's an amazing site!) and, for example, to get to a car parking area you walk out from the terrain along a bridge for about 100 feet, then take an elevator down 8 floors (where you hit terrain again), then walk out again from the terrain along a bridge for about 100 feet, then take an elevator down 4 floors, then you hit the car parking area. So, in about 200 feet of horizontal distance, then mountain raises 12 stories - it is like this everywhere here.

June 14: We encountered a group of American Law students studying in Shimla and joined them to watch a Sikh (the guys with the turbans) ceremony. That afternoon we joined the American law students for sandwiches and tea with the Governor of Himachal Pradesh. During tea I asked about the possibility of buildings falling down the mountain and was told that on occasion a house will tumble down the mountain (and take every house in its path with it). In the evening we wandered the town, watched some of the Sikh celebrations and ate some street food (corn on the cob with lime and salt - yummy), Unfortunately, a monkey saw me eating and cornered me wanting my corn, so I had to gobble it down - it's hard to enjoy your food with a hungry monkey staring at you (remember, they can get real aggressive if you don't feed them). Stupid monkeys. Finally, we watched the clouds move THROUGH the town - that was real cool.

June 15: Bummer - time to leave Shimla, so we boarded the narrow gauge train (ie toy train) to Kalka. However, since we did not know how to obtain reserved seats, we simply took two seats. It turns out that those seats belonged to a group of school girls from a school near the Chinese boarder on a "trek" and the conductor had to show us to our seats. Everyone was pretty cool about the whole seat thing, but I suppose they figured we were stupid Americans and didn't know any better - which we are and didn't. The trip down the mountains was long (5+ hours) and hot, but worth the inconvenience as the view was absolutely spectacular! When we arrived in Kalka we encountered the school girls again and exchanged photo opportunities. Finally, we boarded the Shatabdi Express train for Delhi and being spoiled Americans, we booked first class and air conditioned seats. The Shatabdi express was comfortable and they fed us constantly - not a bad way to travel India.

June 16: We boarded a flight to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh (which is about 360 miles from Delhi) to visit the temples here. Odd thing is that we are here during the off-season, so many things are closed (including the hotels). It turns out that they are so in need of tourist income that the opened the hotel (a Holiday Inn) just for us - we are the only guests! As we enter the hotel's bar or restaurant the staff is waiting in the dark (to conserve energy/money) and turn on the lights for us. It's like having a complete wait staff at your beck and call - it's kind of freaky.

June 17: We toured the 1000 year old temples - which were completely covered by exquisite figurines. Some of which depicted a variety of sexual activities, including bestiality (humans with horses). We also met a group of foreigners: Melanie (Australia), Drea (Missouri), Nicholes (France) and Lizzy (England). Melanie and Drea joined us later for dinner and a swim. We also walked through on of the old villages (were tourists seldom go) and saw first hand how many rural Indians live - these people are very poor, but seem OK with it (Hinduism teaches that if you are poor now, you will have a better life next time around).

June 18: We ventured off into the jungle to see the Reneh Falls on the Ken River. Our timing was perfect as in the dry season there is little water running and during the monsoon season there is too much water. However, as the monsoon is just starting it was perfect and looked just like the Indian jungle seen in many movies.

June 19: Our last day in India. We fly out tonight for home (Grand Forks, ND, USA).

Select images from India (click on images for larger versions):

Here is the view from our hotel rooms looking towards the south-east and New Delhi (old Delhi is towards the north).
Vishnu and Pratibha (Vishnu's wife) the back of the cab after a long day of shopping.
A SMALL (and upscale - many people live in much worse conditions) shanty town near the computer bazaar (PS the man is "relieving" himself).
Vishnu and Pratibha's wedding party. From the left: Pratibha's mother and sister, Vishnu, and Pratibha's father. The picture does not do the wedding justice.
Here we are cleaning up the mess after the dust storm on the day of the transit.
The Taj Mahal, Agra, India.
Agra Fort, Agra, India.
Agra Fort looking towards the Taj Mahal. The sandy area in the center of the image is the river which will be full during the monsoon season (which starts in July).
The vehicle in front was full enough to require passengers to stand on the bumper hitch (this was taken at 50 mph on the highway). But the vehicle was not completely full as they stopped to pick up one more passenger!
A Hindu temple in Delhi.
Ruins in Lodi Park in Delhi.
Shimla (in the Himalayas, in a region that used to be in Nepal).

Click HERE for more images.