Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
In the first pic, I am wearing the traditional outfit of the women in a certain rural community outside of Jodhpur. I tried this on during our rural tour. The 2nd pic has more of a story. A local TV station was interviewing the couple who owns the inn we stayed at in Jodhpur. The story was about Diwali. They decided to ask some of the foreign women staying at the inn to dress up and celebrate in a traditional Diwali ceremony. Tada! This outfit belongs to the wife and I can’t believe it was long enough (though I had to wear my own bracelets since her bracelets could only fit over her itty-bitty tiny hands.)
We took many trains during our Rajasthani trip. Some cars were so intensely crowded that we actually saw a man accidentally fall out and bang his head on the track (he’s OK.) We took the more expensive, air-conditioned, less crowded cars. We sat in the trains, we slept in the trains, and we did nothing in the trains. Train rides ranged from 4 hours to 16 hours (yeah, I know, that’s crazy long.) At the main stations, vendors came onto the trains to sell food and drinks. The long-distance trains had two types of bathrooms as well. Can you guess which one I used?
You often see bad English written on signs here and there. That’s fine, especially since I’m not sure my written German is much better! Anyway, this sign at our little hotel is a great example of that. The fact that Indians and foreigners have separate swimming times is telling, as Indians tend to be more modest at the pool than Westerners. However, I’m not sure why foreigners get twice the amount of time as Indians. Perhaps the hotel attracted twice as many foreigners? Who knows?
Here’s a story for your amusement. By the time we checked-in, I was thoroughly starving so I immediately ordered a plate of spaghetti from room service. After waiting 45 minutes, I called to find out about the delay. Another 30 minutes passed and with hunger I never knew, I staggered downstairs to inquire about my food once again. Yet another promise that it would come soon. 15 minutes later, Leah decided to go explore the town but stopped at the kitchen first to check on my food. Do you know that after 2 hours of waiting, room service finally showed up with not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4, yes, 4 plates of spaghetti?!!?
Hippie town! A lot of Westerners live in this small town. They look like what one may term as “hippies.” Yeah, you know what I mean. Getting there meant being crammed into a bus that had to go up a mountain populated with lots of monkeys. We celebrated Diwali here and it was fun. However, it was also extremely loud and pretty dangerous because there were little kids everywhere setting off firecrackers and fireworks in the street. Watch yourself!
This is Jaipur, the pink city. It is the loudest and craziest of the cities we visited in Rajasthan. There is also so much dust in the air that we had to cover our mouths and noses as we drove around in traffic. Part of it was very glittery and kinda reminds me a bit of what I imagine Las Vegas must look like. These pics come from the center of town.
Many babies, like the one in this first pic, have their eyes rimmed in black eyeliner. I was told this is solely for beauty reasons. Also, one of the boys in this photo has his hair cut in a certain way to express the belief that he was born extra blessed. You can see the cut in the next two pics. A grandmother, sitting in the middle of the desert, surrounded by her grandchildren. Haunting.
Even though opium is officially illegal in India, the government allows some people to keep a little opium because it has become a part of their heritage. This man showed us a typical opium ceremony that is performed whenever he has guests. In the pic, you can see the process of making the opium elixir. To make it, he used my own bottled water (drinking the well water would’ve made me sick.) The elixir tasted extremely bitter but it was an honor to have this ceremony anyway.
He then showed us how he tied his massive turban, which you can see in the video. The turban can be used for shade, to collect water, as a mosquito net, to hold food, everything. So very useful. I’m not really a hat girl, but do you think I could rock a turban?
While on the rural trip, we saw people and the art they create. In the first three photos, you can see people who make clay pots, weave carpets and make cotton sheets and tablecloths. All this is done by hand and can be quite labor-intensive. Despite that, the money they make from selling their wares is often insufficient to support beyond basic needs.
In the last pic is a school for mothers and their young. The school, funded by the UN and run by local women, teaches women how to take care of themselves and their children while the children learn the basics of reading and writing.
We took a daytrip to the rural communities outside Jodhpur. In these tiny villages, there is rarely any running water or electricity. At times, the ride in the American army jeep from the 1950s (don’t ask me how it’s still running) was very bumpy and very dusty. Well, here are some images. I don’t think I need to say anything about them. The pics say enough on their own.
This fort is so cool. But getting there isn’t. It sits high above Jodhpur. In the hot mid-afternoon desert heat, we walked all the way up steep, narrow winding steps to reach it. So best believe we were drenched in sweat by the time we got there.
You can see in the 4th pic, the great big door in front of the fort. It has sharp spines sticking out way up high. This was to prevent enemies from using their elephants to knock down the doors. My favorite room, the queen’s room, is in the last photo. I think you can guess why it attracted my eye.