Where in the World Are You, Amber Hildreth?

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  08.24.07 | 12:17 PM ET


The subject of our latest nearly up-to-the-minute interview with a traveler somewhere in the world: Amber Hildreth, a freelance graphic designer. Her response landed in our inbox this morning.

World Hum: Where in the world are you?

In Pune, India, about 100 miles south of Mumbai (Bombay). It’s a big city housing over 4 million people. It’s famous in India for its academic institutions and for being the headquarters to several automobile companies. It’s been called “the Oxford of the East,” and the “Detroit of India.” It’s also home to many software and IT companies and is emerging as the IT capital of India. Finally, it’s the cultural capital of the state of Maharashtra.

What are you doing there?

Tagging along with my fiancé. He’s working in Pune during the next three to six months at an IT company; he’s on a contract through a U.S. company. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live in a foreign country!

What do you see around you?

I’m standing on the sixth-floor balcony of my hotel looking out at the city. The hum of traffic and the constant stream of car horns fill the air. I see modern, high-rise buildings towering over a cluster of metal sheds occupied by lower-income residents. Laundry is draped over a nearby chain-link fence to dry. Examples like this fill the city, where old and new, low- and high-rent buildings stand side-by-side.

Got a pic?


What did you have for dinner last night, and where?

Indian cuisine, after all I am in India. I started with a sunrise martini, then feasted on garlic and cheese naan; followed by kasturi murg, pieces of chicken in a thick gravy; and murg makhani, tandoori chicken simmered in a rich, spicy tomato gravy. I dined at a self-proclaimed New Age hotel, Central Park Studios, in their restaurant. But don’t let the sound of that turn you off. The food was delicious, reasonably priced, and the staff was extremely attentive.

What music are you listening to these days?

My iTunes and iPod are filled with rock, hip-hop, alternative, pop and classical. At any given moment I could be listening to the Stones, the Beatles, Queen, Eminem, the White Stripes, Cher, Madonna, Nirvana, Chopin, Brendel, Bob Dylan, Prince, Aerosmith or U2.

What are you reading?

“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, the travel memoir that recounts the author’s experience of hiking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

What did you experience in the last 24 hours that you’d recommend?

Going for a walk in Pune. The streets are swarming with motorbikes, auto rickshaws, cars and people all merging together in a kind of organized chaos. Women dressed in salwar kameez—colorful long flowing shirts worn over pants—zoom by on scooters. I passed old and new buildings. Stores like Puma and Nike sparkle against older facades they’re sandwiched between. A light breeze was blowing, evident by the branches swaying on the enormous trees dotting the road. The afternoon sun was beating down, but I’m thankful the daytime temperature is only around 82 degrees. It’s monsoon season, which means more rain, but also lower temperatures.

Where in the world are you headed next?

Well, considering Pune is my new home for the next several months, I plan to venture out and explore other cities in India. Definitely Agra. My trip to India just wouldn’t be complete if I missed the Taj Mahal. And a weekend getaway in Goa to throw down a beach towel and soak up some rays is on the itinerary. Plus, I’ve got to see Mumbai. After all, it’s the Hollywood of India. Who knows, maybe I’ll be discovered and asked to be an extra in a Bollywood film.

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