Amazing Race 13 episode 7: Delhi, India where karma can get you

After last week’s dash in Delhi that ended at the Baha’i House, Starr & Nick were the first ones to head out again into Delhi’s traffic for episode 7 of Amazing Race 13. This week’s episode was one traffic jam after another and a mix of what makes life in Delhi so darned interesting. Colorful. Literally. It was also an episode where people who are snide don’t come out ahead. It’s karma, baby, karma.

Travel Tips from this episode:

  • Working with others can benefit everyone. Don’t be a loner all the time
  • The bigger vehicle is not the best one to take through a traffic jam
  • When stuck in traffic, get out of the vehicle and direct the flow to give yourself a pathway to move forward
  • Be observant. When one way of doing a task is not working, don’t keep repeating yourself. Try something else.

Recap and cultural highlights:

If this was Holi in Delhi, the timing couldn’t have been better for an authentic cultural experience with some Amazing Race craziness mixed in, however as a person who has been to a Holi celebration, the volume of this episode’s depiction was turned up several notches.

When each team arrived for the first task at Deshbandu Apartments where a Holi celebration was taking place, one of the team members was to run through the crowd of celebrating people and up a ladder-like tower where dozens of Amazing Race colored envelopes hung. Six of the envelopes had the next clue. The others said “Try again.” As each person ran to the tower and up it to search through the envelopes, the crowd pelted him or her with colorful powder and sprayed water to make a real mess.

In the typical Indian version of Holi, people throw colored powder on each other in fun, but not in the thick clouds as shown in the episode. The idea–sort of–is to celebrate the rejuvenation of spring with colors. People often come wearing white, and have control over how covered in colors they want to be–mostly.

When I went to a Holi celebration, my face was smudged a bit, but I hung back. Kids go nuts. As with any Indian holiday, food is also an important part, and all ages are included.

Unfortunately, the teams in the Amazing Race had no idea what the celebration signifies–and as with any cultural experience that’s not your own, personalities show through. Plus, their version of Holi was not totally accurate.

Christy & Kelly had the hardest time. Personally, I think it’s because they’re so busy making fun of people and thinking that they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, that they miss details. Tasks come hard to them. Last episode they made fun of Dallas. This week, they were making swipes at Andrew & Dan.

This episode showed Holi as payback. Each time Kelly grabbed the wrong clue and had to run once more into the fray of revelers, I looked for a sympathetic twinge in my heart and couldn’t find one. When she tripped and fell, oh well.

Dallas & Toni caught onto the essence of Holi even though they didn’t know it. Later in the episode, when Dallas, still tinted pink, was running down the road in the midst of pack of kids, Toni brimmed with love at the joy she saw in his face.

After the faux Holi celebration, it was off to the Jain Temple where the Charity Birds Hospital is housed. As with all temples in India, people must take their shoes off before entering. Nick wasn’t thrilled with the idea of walking around barefoot and had no idea why the birds were there. Were the birds sick or were they supposed to be therapy for sick people, he wondered. Seriously, Nick. Don’t you have any cultural know how? It says Charity Birds Hospital above the door, for heaven’s sake. The hospital was founded by the Jains in 1956 to take care of wounded or sick birds and is based on the Jain religious belief that has a high aversion to killing.

Sarah was the most in tuned to the plight of the sick and wounded birds as she and Terrence searched the cages for the next clue. I love the way these two keep calling each other “Babe.” It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It’s endearing.

Before Tina & Ken could look for the next clue in the Charity Birds hospital, they had to perform their Speed Bump. Tina, now with green hair (and green is the worst for not coming out from blond hair) & Ken headed to the Sikh Temple where they helped give water to the throngs of worshipers. Here, Tina was back to being culturally sensitive after calling the fellows that doused her in green powder, “morons.”

This temple scene was a high point of the episode because of the authentic interactions. Tina, in particular, recognized that she was in a holy place and felt compelled to do a good job. Her “God bless yous” as she handed out glass after glass was rather touching.

After the visit to the Charity Birds Hospital came two Road Block choices: Bleary Eyed and Teary Eyed. In Bleary Eyed, the teams were to follow the small numbers of the electrical wires along a very narrow street in Delhi. Once they reached a man with a sewing machine, they were to give him the series of numbers they found. If they were right, he gave them the location of their next clue which would lead them to the Pit Stop at Humayun’s tomb, a complex of mausoleums built in the 16th Century.

This was an older section of the city, I imagine. As buildings are wired for electricity, the tangle increases. The numbers help keep the circuits straight. I can vouch that all of Delhi’s wiring is not like this, however it the wiring and the traffic indicate a city that is teaming with people.

In Teary Eyed, the teams were to head to a market, pick up two 40 pound bags of dried chilies (one each) and carry them to Sharwan Kumar & Sons, a spice business where they were to pulverize 35 ounces of it into powder by using a mortar and pestle. Sarah & Terrence are the only two who picked this option. In the middle of calling each other “Babe” and pounding away, they choked a bit on the chilies’ fiery fumes.

Nick & Starr and Dallas & Toni arrived at Nai Sarak Street for their number hunting in about the same time, and after they discovered the numbers, decided that if they worked together, they’d get finished faster. Both teams plugged in the Ganesha at the store the tailor sent them but, once they were in their Tuk-tuk taxis, skill had nothing to do with who would get to the Pit Stop first. Traffic means everything.

Traffic threatened to do Ken & Tina in after they completed their speed bump and were catching up, but Ken got out of the taxi to part traffic which worked like a charm.

Finding the numbers was a horrific task for Christy & Kelly and Andrew & Dan. It took them forever to find out what to look for. After Ken & Tina figured out the system, they pointed out a number to Dan & Andrew before they hopped back in their taxi they had wait for them. That’s the way to be nice.

Christy & Kelly who have not been nice to anyone on the whole trip arrived at the Pit Stop last. Ha! Yes!

Who won this episode? Nick and Starr–again. I’m growing weary of them winning all the time, but my impression of them went up a notch when they worked with Toni & Dallas and seemed to enjoy it. I do wish Starr would quit cavorting around in her running bra. It irks me. She’s not in Survivor.

What did they win?: A trip to Kauai, Hawaii

Christy & Kelly’s words of travel wisdom: Keep being each others support system. As much as these two bothered me because of their snide ways, I was impressed with how well they got along with each other. No matter how many problems they might have had, they didn’t snipe at each other once.

For recaps and videos from Amazing Race 13, check out the web site.