essay: India 2007

Sent: Sun Jan 6 14:52 Subject: Fwd: India!!

Hi, shall make this briefer than planned as each time there is a blackout I lose the lot. It’s India.  We are in the rather lovely sacred town of Pushkar, about half way through a road trip around Rajasthan in a battered little Tata with our nice driver BJ.  Doing it this way rather than by rail as we underestimated the incredible size and complexity of everything here, especially the cities.  with prebooked hotels, doing it by trains was unrealistic in the time available.
India is so intense; assaults the senses, as the cliche puts it most accurately.  The enduring images will be the crowds – in the so colouful bazaars jostling with people and animals of all descriptions, constantly assailed by touts and beggars, picking ones way through the narrow little lanes and piles of poo; on the roads, where it’s like dodgem cars, literally.  Cows and dogs trotting along or just asleep in the middle of the road, camels, goats, donkeys, autorickshaws, carts, trucks roaring through, tractors or camels pulling loads the width of the road, bikes and of course people everywhere – and thats the highway.
The animals are quite a feature, whether it be all of the above or the peacocks, monkeys and cute little squirrels running all over the forts and palaces, or the monkeys running along the (just) overhead tangle of wiring along the little lanes of Old Delhi.
Much of this 2-week road trip has been through desert, so the driving a bit less intense.  The great Mughal forts and palaces are on a scale thats hard to believe; huge stone edifices and incredibly ornate.  Now I understand what it means to live like a maharajah – a life of such opulence and indulgence that can barely be imagined – and still    happening to a degree – alongside the myriads of beggars.  For me the Taj Mahal still remains the finest of all – so great and beautiful that it brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.  One of our hotels was a maharajah’s palace – I could get used to that, but they have been very varied – from a dive  in the red light area of Singapore to the quaint rundown govt hotel we are in now.
Thats it for now.  Hope all is well with you, love, Rod and Rochi

Sent: Tue Jan 15 14:40
Subject: Fwd: hello from India

hi, we are now in Mumbai (with 20 cigs a day air) after a 2 week road trip around Rajasthan – heaps of forts and palaces, then a flight to Aurangabad and the World Heritage Ellora cave temples – wow!!!  Then a 7 hour train trip to mumbai, a day  here and finally  a week relaxing on the beach in Goa before returning via Singapore.  Hotels have varied enormously, from actual old palaces to rather faded dowagers as here in mumbai (but very central).  If I had to be born an animal in the developing world I,d be happy to be in India – they are well looked after here in all their profuse types and numbers.  Mumbai is different – the first city without animals and piles of poo everywhere.  We are a bit ‘templed out’ and enjoying the change of pace after a fairly demanding road trip.  Hope all is well, love, Rod and Rochi


Sent: Tue Jan 22 13:16
Subject: Fwd: final ‘India report’

Hi, we are finishing a wonderful week in Colva, Goa.  Weather perfect throughout our stay in India – looking forward to seeing a cloud again.  We were lucky with our accommodation organized by the net in South Goa: Longuinhos is a rather lovely beach resort right on a wide clean palm-fringed beach, the latter backed by beach shacks (where everyone lies on lounges and eats/drinks/reads in between dips in the warm clear water) and fishermans shacks/boats/fish-drying compounds.  The beach here is not crowded – as in the unbelievably intense Chowpatty beach at Mumbai, but it is very lively with lots of peaceful dogs, cats, birds (all in peaceful coexistence), water buffalo, occasional pigs and lots of Indians bathing in their colourful saris.  Also parachute rides – pulled and skillfully returned to the beach by speedboats.
We have been eating lots of wonderfully fresh fish and fish curries, doing lots of beach walks and little shopping excursions into Colva ten minutes along the beach.
We return early saturday am after connecting flights through Bangalore, Chennai and Singapore and Darwin.  Love, Rod and Rochi


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