Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snapshots: India

It's time to say goodbye to India, which is hard to do.  The forts and palaces and temples were amazing.  But my favorite memories of India are always of the people we see as we pass through villages along way, and I take photos through the car window, or get out and walk.  There is so much color, and such wonderful spirit.  Life is so very hard for these people, but they find ways to smile and celebrate it.

Saying goodbye to Sonu is harder still.  This is the third goodbye for us,  and always before we've had a plan for my return.  No definite itinerary this time, but we discussed a number of options.  And, we vowed a promise:  one way or another, within two years, we will share an adventure again.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Forts, Palaces and Temples, Too

In addition to forts and palaces, we’ve been visiting temples, large and small, all along the way.  As you can see, they come in a rainbow of colors.  Like the saris, turbans and brightly-colored trucks, they pop up out of nowhere, breaking through the dust and the bleakness.  In one mile of driving you can see 10 or more of the small local temples.

Hindus represent 80 percent of the population, so the majority of the temples are theirs.  But the largest and most elaborate one we saw was that of the Jains.  This one was made entirely of beautiful white marble, and had very intricate carvings.  The temple has 1444 columns, and no two of them are exactly alike.  Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, and has some very conservative practices.  They literally wouldn’t harm a fly!  They’re strict vegetarians, but they take respect for other beings to the extreme.  They don't eat after dark, and wear masks over their faces, all to protect even tiny insects from being inhaled.

One of the things I love most about India is the spirituality and faith that guides these people’s lives.  There’s kindness and heart everywhere you go.  Hindus believe in reincarnation, and in karma; they strive to live righteously with hopes of doing well in the next life.  And that all sounds good to me!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jaisalmer: This Fort is Alive!

The fort at Jaisalmer, near the border of Pakistan, is very different from the others we’ve seen.  It’s made of golden sandstone, instead of granite.  And intricate sandstone carvings decorate its palace.  But it’s also more than just a walled bastion, it’s a community.  More than 1,000 people live within the walls of the 800-year-old fort, and tuk-tuks, motorbikes and cows all travel its twisting, narrow streets.

It’s the ‘wedding season’ here, too.  We saw a procession in the street and joined-in the fun.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Flying, Swimming and Sleeping Like a Prince

It’s not all touring for us.  We ‘flew’ a five-segment zipline course with a fort as the background.  Then there was Sonu’s plunge into a swimming pool for only the second time in his life, wearing a pair of my trunks.  And hotels where I’m staying take their design cues from the palaces and forts, so I’m even sleeping like a prince.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jodhpur: The Blue City

Jodhpur is known as 'The Blue City', and it's easy to see why.  Originally only the high priestly cast called Brahmins were allowed to paint their homes blue, but now others do it too.  The deep shade of indigo is said to have a calming effect; to be cool in summer, and to repel insects.  Since blue is my favorite color, I just find it very pleasing!

And the city is the nameplace for 'Jodhpurs', the ankle-length pants worn for horseback riding and polo.  Jodhpur became a polo center beginning in the early 1900s, due to a maharaja's keen interest in the sport.