Drinking our way through India

November 13th, 2012

Chai masala, of course.  We are staying well caffeinated thanks to this delicious aromatic warm beverage.

While in Udaipur, we heard a rhythmic wet slapping noise and went to inspect.  There are places all around the lake where stairs lead directly into the lake.  Men and women climb down the stairs to the level of the water and either do laundry, bathe themselves, or both.  We have only seen women do laundry, and the men and women bathe themselves clothed and separately.  The wet slapping noise is the clothes being beaten against the steps or being  slapped with sticks to get them clean.  Since we did laundry at our hotel now that we are halfway through our adventure, we have verification of how clean your clothes get with this method.

Yesterday we went to Ranakpur.  We are not sure how the schedule for sights will change with Diwali, and between the sights in Udaipur and Ranakpur, we chose Ranakpur.  Being on the lake in Udaipur is all of the sights we need.  Ranakpur is the home of a large Jain temple that was built in 1439 (completed 63 years later).  There are 1,440 individually carved marble pillars within the temple and 72 carved shrines.  Nearby is a modern Hindu temple dedicted to Surya (the sun – which I can put together thanks to Surya Namaskar).  Of the sights we have seen, I would say that the Jain temple is my second favorite next to the Taj Mahal.

There are monkeys around the temple, and they may be long-tailed macaques.  There was one that was running behind me, and to me it sounded like a horse.  They are also not as small as they appear once they are right beside you.

Throughout our travels in Rajasthan, we have seen many small villages.  One thing I have noticed is the prevalance of water pumps.  My great grandmother had a water pump in her yard, and I would stand there and pump water amused by the novelty of it.  I suspect when this is the only way to get water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing, etc., it is not as fun as I found it to be.

Udaipur is ready for Diwali and so are we!  There are strings of colorful lights everywhere, and there are little votive lights in doorways, window sills and ledges.  There are no actual candles; instead, there are small terra cotta dishes filled with oil and a little wick at the edge that stays lit.  When walking through the streets last night, it did not feel like nighttime – lights everywhere, the stores were open, and people were making their way to various temples.  There are firecrackers going off every minute or so, and the sound reverberates through the old city, which is full of narrow winding streets and tall havelis and temples.  Everyone is cleaning, painting the exteriors of their homes or shops, and are painting what look like welcome mats in their doorways.  Today (Tuesday) is the final day of celebration, and tomorrow we leave for Bombay!

“I don’t want to go home!” – said by me at around 1:00 p.m.

November 11th, 2012

 

On our second full day in Jaipur (Friday), we went to Pushkar, which is a little less than halfway between Jaipur and Udaipur.  According to legend, Pushkar came into existence when Lord Brahma dropped a lotus to Earth.  At the 3 spots where petals landed, water appeared in the midst of the desert to form 3 small lakes.  On the banks of the largest, Brahma gathered 900,000 celestial beings.  At Pushkar, there are bathing ghats and hundreds of temples, and it is one of India’s most sacred sites (next to Varanasi).  Pushkar also has an annual camel market/fair where thousands of people arrive to buy and sell camels.  Unfortunately, we missed this by 1 week.

We visited the Brahma Temple.  At the entrance, we were each given 2 marigolds and 1 pink unidentified flower to present as offerings.  Of course, we had no idea what we were doing, but we gave our flowers to the four-headed image of Brahma anyways.  I, in turn, was given a handful of small white candies, but I am still not sure what I was supposed to do with them.  We then made our way to Brahma ghat, which is where Brahma himself worshipped, and we were immediately urged to make Pushkar Puja, which involves a repetition of prayers while scattering flower petals, rice and colorful dyes into the lake.  I having read my guidebook knew that we would be asked to make a donation of around Rs 100, but that oftentimes tourists are scammed into paying more for each prayer for each family member.  Evan did not read said guidebook and got swindled out of Rs 2000.  I was holding firm at Rs 500 (we were separated based upon non-married status) and then refused to pay anything after learning of how much Evan paid.  Big swindle numero dos.  We spent the rest of the day wandering the streets of Pushkar, which attract a large hippy tourist crowd.  

Our big feat at Pushkar:  we bought Indian sweets.  In this I proved to be more adventurous than Evan.  We have mostly seen sweets being made and sold out in the open on the street, and out in the open on the street is not very clean.  Well, as the saying goes:  when in India…  The sweets were delicious!

During our last and final day in Jaipur (Saturday), we visited the Central Museum, which is housed in Albert Hall oddly designed by a British Architect.  The building is a mix of Venetian and Mughal styles.  We also went to Laxmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir), and our sightseeing concluded at Galta “Monkey Palace,” which has a collection of temples on a steep rocky ravine.  It is called “Monkey Palace” because over 5,000 macaque monkeys have made it their home.  So, needless to day we went mostly to see the monkey, and we were smart enough to not to bring any food.  I also curbed by desire to hug the monkeys – they were not of the friendly variety.

We were then typical American tourists and did a bit of shopping.  We did not intend to shop, but since Forty was tuk tuk-ing us around, if he takes us to different stores and we buy something, he then receives a commission.  Unfortunately, shopping is not a brief affair and involves a lot of bargaining and negotiating, which you may think is easy for me, but it is not when I am negotiating against both the seller and Evan.

At the end of the day, Forty invited us to his home for chai.  When we were there two nights prior, Forty’s brother mentioned that it is customary to buy new clothes for each family member for Diwali.  While it was clear to us that his brother was not so subtly indicating that we should give Forty money for this purpose, we went along with it.  I guess this could make us suckers.  But, in my mind we were not being asked to give Forty and his family more of what they already have in ample quantities.  It is clear that they do not have much.  His son’s prized possession is 3 marbles.  So, we gave Forty extra money beyond his fare and wished him and his family a Happy Diwali.  While invited to stay for dinner, we declined since a nasty bugaroo decided to feast on my foot which then decided to blow up like a softball.  No worries, I made myself a cocktail of claritin and prednisone, which helped reduce the swelling.  

People are very curious about us.  Children like to shake our hands and say “hello.”  Oftentimes, children also like to practice their English by introducing themselves.  During our climb down the hill at Monkey Temple, 2 young boys joined us and riddled us with questions and pointed out all of the animals along the way.  When at Forty’s home, other children came to peek at us through the curtain.  People routinely ask where we are from and mention that Obama was re-elected.  For the most part, the people we have encountered are very friendly and warm, and we love it. 

Today we made the long drive from Jaipur to Udaipur, which is now our favorite.  It is on Lake Pichola and is smaller and less congested.  After our arrival, we wandered around a bit and watched the sunset from the roof of our hotel – one of our top 5 experiences in India so far.  I am pretty sure that we will be able to add Diwali to that list.  Decorations are everywhere.  There have been festivals and fireworks, and the celebrations begin in earnest tomorrow even though Diwali is not until Tuesday.  

When we were in France last year, there were fireworks in Arles and we had one of the best seats in the house at our hotel.  Now there are fireworks in Udaipur.  Evan and I are beginning to think that wherever we go, fireworks follow.



By golly, I think we have our India legs!

November 8th, 2012

Today was our first full day in Jaipur.  We have been traveling for a week now and we are finally developing our India legs.  Just like getting on a boat, being in India requires a certain adapting before getting into the groove of things.

Some background:  Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan (New Delhi is the capital of India) and is known as the “Pink City” due to the  uniform pink color of the buildings of the Old City.  Today it has a population of over 3 million.

We started the day by making our second friend in India:  Forty.  We do not know how to actually spell his name, but it sounds exactly like the number 40.  He became our tuk tuk (auto rickshaw) driver.  As a sidenote:  I have no confirmation of this, but I am convinced that they are called “tuk tuks” because of the sound their horns make.  Also, it does not seemas though anyone looks over their shoulder or uses their side or rearview mirrors.  Instead, drivers seem to rely on other drivers honking to let them know of their nearby presence.  Thus all of the honking all of the time.  But, I digress.

We made our way to the Amber Fort, which is perched up on a hill as most forts are.  You can make the steep walk on foot, ride an elephant or take a jeep.  While I took many photos of the elephants (no, I did not try to hug them), we opted for the climb.  Seeing all of the interior palaces, temples and gardens took more time than expected.  No problem!  This is exactly why neither of us are married to an itinerary.  Next we went to the City Palace, which is where many of the maharajas lived and remains the official residence of the present maharaja.  Last for the day was Jantar Mantar, which was created by Jai Singh II, who was apparently obsessed with astronomy.  The sight is filled with huge solar instruments meant to measure celestial data.  To me it looks like a futuristic sculpture park, and Evan had to explain how each thing worked after he spent some time figuring it out.

We decided to get more adventurous with our food and went to a local restaurant – Surya Mahal – at the recommendation of Dan, the former San Franciscan we met the night prior. There was one other white couple there, otherwise the restaurant was filled with locals.  And, there we have it.  Indian food in San Francisco has forever been ruined.  While we thought it tasted good, once you have Indian Indian food, you realize how much better it could and should taste.  We got these frothy pineapple juice drinks, which tasted as though a pinceapple had been put into a juicer.  For dinner we had pakoras in curry, paneer butter tikka masala, and mutter paneer.  Oh, and of course naan.  Jaipur is known for its Indian sweets (or so our guidebooks tells us), so guess what we’re tackling Saturday evening.

On our drive back to the hotel, Forty asked us if we needed him to drive tomorrow.  Since we are going to Pushkar, we told him that we didn’t but would need him on Saturday if he is available.  At first it seemed weird to me that tuk tuk and cab drivers will drive you around and wait for you at each stop for however long it takes.  There is no meter and Forty’s rate for today was 500 rupees or $10.  I have since realized that there are thousands of tuk tuks, cycle rickshaws and cabs.  Driving us around and waiting for us gives Forty a guaranteed full day’s work without having to compete for various fares.

After arriving and paying our fare, Forty invited us to his home for tea.  Like we would say “no” even if we wanted to?  I suppose some tourists would be uncomfortable with this.  My only unease was that both Evan and I are socially awkward and bad at small talk.  We met Forty later in the night, and he walked us to his home which was a minute from our hotel.  While completely hidden from our hotel, it was immediately obvious that Forty and his family live in a slum.

We entered Forty’s home through a makeshift curtain as there is no door.  We took our shoes off and entered a room that is 7 feet by 10 feet.  There are no windows, the roof is a piece of metal, and there is a single fluoresent light bulb.  The floor is broken concrete and stone.  We were offered to sit on the bed, which is wooden with no mattress.  A very thin blanket covered it.  There were three small shelves and a small cupboard containing all of their belongings except dishes.  While small the space was kept as tidy and organized as possible.  We were introduced to Forty’s two children:  one daughter who is 4.5 years-old and one son who is 7 years-old, both of whom became very shy at meeting us but timidly shook our hands.  Forty’s brother also joined us and his wife made us tea.  They insisted that they serve us food and while we were not hungry it seemed rude to decline their offer of hospitality.  We were given chapatis, potato and curry and they offered us alcoholic beverages.  I could tell that Forty and his wife do not likely have a surplus of beer, and so I said that I do not drink alcohol.  Evan was a little slow on the uptake and said that a beer would be nice.  Forty disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a large Kingfisher beer.  When invited to return on Saturday evening for dinner and if asked if he eats meet, Evan did not make the same mistake twice and said that he too is a vegetarian.

Forty, his brother, Evan and I talked about their families, their marriages (arranged marriages to wives from Delhi), their work and the upcoming number one holiday in India, Diwali.  Forty’s brother told us that their slum is on land owned by the people who own our hotel (great! we are staying in the hotel of slumlords) and that the rent is very expensive.

Back up.  Hold the phone.  People who live in slums pay rent.  Come again.  I suppose this is my naivete or just sheer stupidity, but I assumed that the people who live in slums stake out a small space to live because they cannot afford to live elsewhere and that no one would charge a person rent to live in a slum.  There is no plumbing, heating or ventilation, and there is a minimum amount of electricity.

To quote  Forty’s brother:  ”people come to India, stay in hotels, see this sight and that sight and think that is India.  That is not India.  This is India.”

Gobama!

November 7th, 2012

We wrapped up our sightseeing in Delhi on Monday.  Our trusted friend Parmjeet met us in the morning and took us to the Jama Masjid, which is India’s largest mosque.  It was here that I became acutely aware that with respect to tourists people will generally try to do something for you, however insignificant and regardless of your declining the offer, in order to demand money.

Before we were even inside the mosque, we were joined by a young guy who started explaining the history of the mosque.  At first, we were confused; perhaps an annoying guide was part of the ticket, but I realized this was not the case. I asked him to leave us alone without any success.  After his largely unintelligible 5-minute rant, he demanded 200 rupees ($4).  I offered him 50 rupees or $1 to go away, and he then tried to remind me of a non-existent conversation during which I agreed to pay him 200 rupees for his knowledge about the mosque.  While we are not talking about a large sum of money, we are now talking about the principle of the matter.  Since I did not think “liar, liar, pants on fire” would get me very far, I held firm at my offer of 50 rupees pretending as though this was the only cash we had.  Here’s the scenario:  outraged tour guide versus me; I have 3 whole weeks in India, and the longer he spends with me, the less tourists he can swindle.  Game on.  Unfortunately, Evan felt that it was worth paying $4 to get him to go away.  Swindle number 1 (although I think technically Evan was the swindled one, not me).  

We tried walking down Chandni Chowk, which is Old Delhi’s main thoroughfare and is full of bazaars.  We gave it our best effort, but we became overwhelmed after 20 minutes.  I took photographs, because I knew it would be difficult to describe.  There are things everywhere.  People.  Cars.  Bikes.  Bikes with carts that are carrying items 5 times larger than the bike and cart combined.  Cows.  Cycle rickshaws.  Auto rickshaws.  Trash and things you do not want to step in.  Men squatting, chewing paan and spitting.  Piles of trash burning.  And then there are the horns.  Everyone honks their horn all of the time.   

After accepting defeat, we then went to India Gate (42m-high arch commemorating soldiers killed in WWI, Afghan War of 1919 and the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971), saw Safdarjang Tomb and Qutab Minar (think Roman Forum but Indian style).  All worthwhile and all easily accessible thanks to trusty Parmjeet.  

Evan and I did not make transportation arrangements prior to arriving in Delhi, as we thought it would be easy to do so once here.  Not so, and in retrospect this was foolish.  But, if we had, we would never have met Parmjeet and come to rely on his kindness.  In India you can hire a driver and car to take you anywhere, but we were unable to find a company that would respond or that did not require an Indian cell phone number.  After our first day with Parmjeet, he offered to be our driver for our second and last day in Delhi.  He also offered to drive us to Agra and to Jaipur.  We like and trust Parmjeet (largely because he did not drop us off at a store after we said we did not want to go to said store like our driver on our first day did), so we did not need to think about this for very long but then the negotiating over price began.  We did not have many options, but Parmjeet did not know this.  Nevertheless, he got the price he wanted.  A little later in the day though he told us we would be in a different, more spacious car, and therefore the cost went up by 2,000 rupees.  See last sentence of first paragraph – except that Evan and I have a strong affection for Parmjeet, so we took it in stride.  Also, his brother would be driving.  His qualifications to drive us to Agra and then to Jaipur: “he Sikh like me, he have long beard too and is vegetarian, okay?”  ”Okay!”

We left Delhi early Tuesday morning and made our way to Agra.  All of the things that made it difficult to walk down the street in Delhi also make it difficult to drive anywhere in India (except there are no paan spitting men to dodge).  In India, the roads are for everyone, not just people in/on motorized transportation.  You can walk; you can herd your cows, goats or camels; you can travel at 10 mph because you have 4 people on your motorbike.  No one rides a motorbike or in a car by themselves, since there are so many people.  Transportation is more utilitarian because of this perhaps?   I saw 2 adults and 3 children on a motorcycle, a man standing on what was left of a bumper while holding onto the roof of the car, and (my personal favorite) a man sitting on the open backseat door (next time there is no room in the backseat, just roll down the window, place your butt on top of the window, open door and off you go).

Agra.  If it was not for the Taj Mahal, I do not think anyone would come here.  We arrived late in the afternoon and our hotel was not exactly what we were expecting.  Writing about it may re-traumatize me.  Needless to say that we left Agra a day early and are now in Jaipur.  

While in Agra, we of course saw the Taj Mahal as well as Itimad-ud-Daulah and Agra Fort.  When we arrived in Agra, our new driver, Krishan, pulled over to tell us that his English-speaking friend was joining us.  We told Krishan that we did not want or need an English-speaking guide, but we sat there waiting for him anyway.  See last sentence of first paragraph.  

It is difficult to describe why we did not like Agra, but we didn’t so we moved on.  Now we have made it to Jaipur a day early.  It was a 5-hour drive and having left Agra early allows us to have 3 full days here instead of 2.5.  We may even take a day trip to Pushkar.  

At dinner tonight we met a man who used to live in Potrero Hill but now lives in Santa Fe.  His work (he’s in the jewelry business) involves traveling up to 4 months out of the year through Asia.  He gave us lots of information about Jaipur and told us that if we wanted to begin exploring Asia, there are 2 to 3 countries he would have recommended as an introduction.  So it would appear that by coming to India first we jumped right on into the deep end.  We’re treading water right now but are going to start swimming (we think).  

There are things I do not like.  But, there are a lot of things that I do like.  There are things that we have seen that I still have a hard time comprehending and cannot adequately describe.  They are images that everyone has seen either on TV or in movies but that once you see in person and repeatedly, your whole frame of reference shifts.  I do not think that it is possible to come to India and leave as the same person you were when you arrived.  Sorry if this is cryptic, but it is late and I am pooped.

Making a Friend in Delhi

November 4th, 2012

Day two in Delhi! Some background:  New Delhi is India’s capital with 15 million people residing in it.  There is Old Delhi, which was created by Shah Jahan in the 17th century, and is the city of the Mughals.  South of it is New Delhi, which was built by the British.  Old Delhi has small winding streets filled with people and bazaars and New Delhi has wide, paved and tree lined streets with several parks.

We left our hotel this morning and made our first and probably most important friend in Delhi:  our taxi driver Parmjeet.  He immediately recognized tourists in need of some wheels.  Reading our guidebooks confirmed that you can really only see Delhi by car or auto rickshaw.  Taxis do not run on meters, so you have to agree on a price before you get in.  Parmjeet agreed to take us to the Red Fort in Old Delhi for Rs 400, which we felt was a great deal since the car we took the day before took us to a destination that was closer for Rs 800 (thus using a taxi versus a car arranged by our hotel).

On our way to the Red Fort, Parmjeet informed us that there was some sort of political gathering.  Throngs of people carrying signs and wearing pink scarves around their heads as make shift turbans took to the streets.  In addition to the masses of people already in Delhi made for a long but very interesting ride to the Red Fort. Driving in Delhi:  not for the faint of heart.  There may be 3 lanes, but the lines dividing the lanes are meaningless.  People drive where they can, how they can, as fast as they can all in the name of getting where they are going.  As Evan says, they drive like me.  Watching it all happen is like watching a school of fish.  There are cars, buses, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, people pushing carts all on the same expressway.  Oh, and there was an elephant.  The buses do not have doors; people stand in the stairwell facing the street, and people run to jump on.  The next time I think Muni is crowded, I will remind myself of the buses in Delhi

Once we finally arrived at the Red Fort, Parmjeet informed us that he would wait for us so that he could take us to our next leg of our day’s journey.  No hesitation in agreeing to this, since it became obvious we would never find another taxi amidst the day’s events -whatever they were.  The line to get into the Red Fort had hundreds of people in it.  Tourists yes but of the Indian variety.  We realized that people from all over India also visit New Delhi to see the sights.

We had to disregard our initial plan for sightseeing given the unusual number of people taking to the streets, so with the help of Parmjeet we opted to visit Humayun’s Tomb and then the Baha’i Lotus Temple.  However, we had to re-negotiate our taxi fare in light of the fact that our original price was only to take us to the Red Fort.  Parmjeet quoted us Rs 1500 or $30 for the entire day.  While we suspect we are supposed to negotiate, the price is reasonable and we are willing to pay it for a taxi driver who is friendly and helpful.  Let’s consider that on Halloween it was a $10 cab ride to get home from Lower Haight.

Again, we were faced with a very long line to enter the Lotus Temple.  As we slowly made our way, it became obvious that we were expected to take our shoes off and walk barefoot on the cement.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.  Shoes off!  But, instead of putting them in sacks and checking them, we stuffed them in our backpack.   There is no way I am risking getting separated from the things that separate my feet from the ground. We are hilarious American tourists.  After leaving the Lotus Temple and before putting our shoes back on, I opted to use the dozens of packs of wet wipes we brought for these very situations.  Clean dirt off feet before putting feet back in shoes, check!  Did I care that we had a group of people laughing at us while doing so?  Not in the least.

Tomorrow we go back to Old Delhi to experience Chandni Chowk in all of its panic inducing glory and Jama Masjid.  Today’s lesson:  bring double the water you think you will need for the day.

New Delhi is Foggy Delhi

November 4th, 2012

We made it!  After 22 hours on 2 planes and a 5-hour layover in London, we finally arrived in New Delhi at 5:20 a.m. on Saturday morning.  We learned at Heathrow that it is illegal to take Indian Rupees in or out of the country.  Converting our money and finding our luggage were our top priorities, so I tackled the former and Evan tackled the latter.  The conversion is about Rs. 50 for every $1, so there is something disconcerting about receiving a stack of Rs. 500 notes totaling Rs. 50,000.   Gorilla grip on purse…check!

We exited the airport to find that New Delhi is also foggy.  At least it’s something familiar, but that is about it for familiarity.

Our plan was to start our sightseeing and go the distance for the entire day so that we would have 3 full days of sightseeing while avoiding the pitfalls of jet lag.   Our plan was an epic failure thanks to 3 factors.  First, neither of us really slept while in transit.  Second, my anti-malarials make me sick.  Third, arriving in India is more overwhelming that one can expect.

We got a car through our hotel to take us to Connaught Place and during the 20-minute drive our driver asked us about 20 different questions all having to do with whether we would like him to take us to various places where we could buy high quality jewelry and clothing or take us on a longer tour of Delhi or even tours outside of Delhi.   I simply stopped responding because “no, thank you” was not cutting it.   Neither did silence really.

After being out and about for an hour, we quickly realized that we had made the exact same mistake we made when we arrived in Paris last year.  The mistake is underestimating how sleep deprivation impacts our ability to cope, adjust, problem solve and make what should be easy decisions.  In Paris this led us to spending 60 minutes trying to figure out where and how to get a train ticket  and about the same amount of time trying to figure out where to eat dinner.

So, unfortunately our first day ended up turning into a sleepfest.  But, we are already learning that Indian food in San Francisco will never really be as good as we once thought it was.

For day two, we are going to tackle Old Delhi.  New Delhi is New Delhi which includes South New Delhi and Old Delhi.  We will be seeing the Red Fort (Lal Qila), Chandni Chowk, Svetamber Jain Temple and Jama Masjid.

And yes, I will continue to take my anti-malarials since I’ve already gotten bit by one of the malaria-carrying bastards.  To tolerate feeling sick, I have to assume all mosquitos carry malaria since I’m already gambling by having foregone my polio and tdap boosters.

It’s kind of like the Amazing Race

October 31st, 2012

The first leg of our journey has us leaving San Francisco on 11/1 at 5:20 p.m., and we fly to Heathrow where we will have a bleary-eyed 5-hour layover.  After another 11-hour flight we will finally arrive in New Delhi at 5:00 a.m. on 11/3.  Our manta for 11/3:  ”No Naps!”  We will stay awake and keep moving until we reach a normal bedtime.  Or, if history repeats itself, until I fall asleep while Evan was talking to me while out to dinner like I did in Paris.

We are staying in New Delhi through 11/5 and on 11/6 we will make our way to Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) where we will stay put for two nights.  Everything we read indicated that trying to get to Agra, see the Taj Mahal and move on to your next destination all in one day would do nothing but cause a nervous breakdown.  And, since I generally do not like huge crowds of people jostling me while trying to appreciate something spectacular, we are saving the Taj Mahal for our second day.  One thing I learned from my Grandma – wherever you’re going, get there early and before everyone else.  This is how I managed to get great photos of the Alhambra in Granada (Spain) without a single tourist in them.  Who wants to look back at photos and see random poorly dressed tourists looking a little confused?

From Agra, we move onto Jaipur for three nights (11/8, 11/9, and 11/10) but possibly four, since we are unclear whether we will be able to travel on the day of Diwali (the Festival of Lights).  While in Jaipur, we hope to make a trip to Pushkar and other possible environs.  After Jaipur we head  to Udaipur for three nights (11/11, 11/12, and 11/13) but may have to stop and spend a night in Ajmer, which is equidistant between Jaipur and Udaipur.  The drive between the two is long and can be made longer due to unpredictable road conditions.  We are given to understand that there are quite a few “unknowns” when it comes to inter-India travel, so all of our plans are subject to change.  While in Udaipur we hope to make a trip to Ranakpur.

Udaipur will conclude our travels in Rajasthan as we then take a flight to Mumbai (Bombay) for three nights (11/14, 11/15, and 11/16).  Last but not least are our last three nights, which we will spend in Goa (11/17, 11/18, 11/19).  We then return to New Delhi on 11/20 so that we can catch our flight home on the 21st (or not).

सुरक्षित यात्रा (bon voyage) to us (almost)!

October 28th, 2012

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine

I couldn’t think of anything better for my first post than a quote that combines two of my favorite things: books & travel.  And, for good measure:  ”Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” ~ Cesare Pavese