Friday, December 10, 2010

The KhajuAgraYana epic - a further episode in the Ramayana

An epic tale about joining Rama Robert in an month long exile from home (USA) to the distant wild and exotic forests, ashrams, mountains, cities, and cultural monuments of a far off land (north India)

The companions - Sita Suzanne (left at home), Sita Alice, Sita Anne, Sita Claudia, Sita Gail, Sita Jeanie, and Sita Kathy, with Laxman Abe, Laxman Llyn, and Laxman Philip.

Our Hunuman army of assistants and helpers- Uday agents, tour guides, drivers, cooks, hotel clerks, and luggage carriers.

Ravana - in many guises, with one of his ten faces for each of the ten of us personally - to tempt us through beggars, rug salesmen, hawkers; to offer us unclean succulant, tasty vegetables and sweats and drinks; to invade our bodies with colds, and sniffles, and germs, and diareaha; to make us too cold without space heaters, or too hot without air conditioning; to force us to pay extras, or too much, or carry on bargaining or haggling far too long and unbending; to make luggage carriers argue and argue without carrying the luggage; to randomly change wonderful smooth wide roads into bumpy, rough roads for mile after mile; to present us sights of poor, staving, and suffering humans and animals, un-cared for, ignored, left to themselves. These and many more things the evil Ravana presented to us or did to us.  BUT we struggled and overcame all of his attempts through our individual and collective heroic efforts.

The places we went, and saw, the food we ate, the people we met,  -

And what we did, and learned, and experienced, and thought, and

The exotic India trip - topics

The exotic India trip - topics (thoughts in the weeks after the trip)

What are some of the topics, or themes through out the trip







What's new, what's old

21 November 2010 Arrival home

Sunday 21 November 2010

What a trip - long.  14.5 hours direct flight after some hour or more delay.  Almost left my good camera, as my seat rows were called and I started to rush to the line - until someone spoke up and said, you left your camera on the floor.  So went back and got it.  Guy next to me zonked out right away, while aisle guy seemed to be restless.  Then, after supper, I went off to sleep, waking and needing to go to the bathroom.  The next seat guy was wide awake and stayed that way watching a television series on his laptop the rest of the way.  It was dark, really dark almost the whole trip - couldn't see anything up near the pole.

In Newark I had a long wait, from about 5 am to 1 pm flight to Richmond.  Long, long lines waiting to go through customs.  About 1 hour further wait until my two suitcases came through, so I could pass them on for delivery to the Richmond flight. Sat around, and sat around, and sat around.  Toe hurting badly.  Did some Internet as I signed up for a day on Boing at $8.  Checking in with Deej via living room webcam, as she took off for shopping at Short Pump around 10 am.

Flight to Richmond fine - but wonder why they always seem to go south, down along the coast almost to Norfolk, and then turn and head back up to the northwest to get to Richmond.

Arrived early so had my luggage already as Deej came through the door.  Great to see her again. Nice ride home,dosing some.  Stayed awake until about 11 pm.

A long, long trip, but good to be home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

20 November 2010. Delhi and fly

Saturday 20 November 2010

Lunch with Crispin, Aya, and Dr. Datta at the International Center, as arranged by phone calls last night and this morning.

While doing Internet in the lobby, notice Ruth Lacy's sister! and she, Jessie, recognizes me!  She's staying there with her two daughters, coming from their time at Woodstock in the last week with the Class of 1965.  Photo somewhere.

I pack and take my stuff to the lobby and pay off any Internet and other expenses.  Take a auto to Khan Market as the desk says there was no Metro to it.  Walk around Khan Market and end up buying some bracelets from a hall way vendor.  Walk over to International Center.

Very wonderful thali lunch with the three - good, interesting conversation on a variety of academic and non-academic topics.

A tuk tuk with Crispin and Aya to the Khan Market and then I search out and find the Metro station 3 bocks from the market.  Get on the crowded Metro to the Central Secretariat station and then another very, very crowded one to Rajiv Chauk.  Almost stampeded back into the train at Rajiv Chauk - wow, whew!

19 November 2010 Delhi

Friday 19 November 2010 Shopping day

first to the Delhi Haat or Market, down by INA.  Take metro or Rajiv Chauk and transfer to Gurgaon-headed train. Emerge not knowing where the Haat is, and finally ask a auto-rickshaw wallah, who says, right there, around that wall!  Have a momo Sikkim lunch, but frustrated because the ATM doesn't work and I'm out of money.  Buy some slippers and little things.

Metro back up to Rajiv Chauk around 2:30 pm and go down Janpath to the Cottage Emporium and shop for pillow cases, clothes, Diwali brass lamps, etc. On way back to Rajiv Chauk, buy a suitcase on Janpath.  Back to Florence Inn.

18 November 2010 Lucknow tour

Thursday. Deepak gives me a great tour of the city of Lucknow.

Go to the Residency and walk around

Pick up Holly and Anushka and go to the big main masjid and mosque complex, the Imambara.

Back to the city, and get and eat some mithai mukan on the street with Holly near the old Lucknow bazaar gate - really wonderful taste and treat.  Start walking into the main old bazaar lane, but most shops closed for BakrId, so go back to the gate and Holly buys some sweets at the sweet shop.  One of the clerks says he recongnizes me (though I have not been in Lucknow since I was about 9 years old!).

Drive past Isabella Thoburn College, and to a really big, wonderful Mall - just like in the States in many ways - and have a McDonald's lunch.  They point out the net above the first floor ceiling, to prevent suicide attempts for the upper 4th or 5th floor balconies.

A visit with Deepak's uncle and aunt - really interesting folks, with lots of questions to me.

Back to pick up my knapsack, and to the airport for the 2:30 pm flight; but get to wait for the one-hour delayed flight back to Delhi.  Pleasant flight - smooth and not packed.  First flight where one needs to pay for any food or drink.

Get picked up by Uday - and taken to the Florance Inn for my new single room.  Looks nice, but no Interet access from it.

17 November 2010 to Lucknow

Wednesday.  17 November 2010.

Fly to Lucknow on Go Air - delayed flight

Deepak picks me up, and goes and gets Holly

Buy Lucknow famous Chikan outfits, 2 for me, one purple one for Deej (largest size), and Deepak gets his, hers, and kids for his friends.

Spend night at the Singh's place

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Metro, Library of Congress. Group flys off

16 November 2010 Tuesday

Grab Metro with Robert, Janpath's Tibetan Market (mask), America Center Library of Congress with Lalita, as B and Mary are already there, Lunch at Rajdhani. Tour of LC. More Janpat - Ganesh's and suitcase. Supper with group at Spicy Restaurant. Chocolate for departing group - they fly off.

Street kids, Humayan's tomb, Kutab Minar, Rajdhani

15 November 2010 Monday

Visit to slum area with guide about street children – fascinating, what a life! Lunch with Alice of quick puri and subzi for Rs 36.  Humayan tomb, Kutab Minar and iron pillar, Rajdhani restaurant with Cate and Jack. Get bag left in storage and laundry.

Delhi tour Masjid, Rajghat, Baha'i temple, Dances

14 November 2010 Sunday

Drive by booksellers lined the streets in old Delhi, on the way to the Jama Masjid (largest?) and visit it, Rajghat, Baha'i Temple, Dances of India, Anjlink thalli supper.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Delhi - Memorial and dinner

13 November 2010 Saturday

To Delhi by train, Florence Inn, Delhi Smriti, Crafts Museum, dinners.

Up at 5:30, pack, shower.

6 Breakfast

6:30 leave, rather 6:40 after all other open busses leave for R Park

7 at train station.  Stand around until Shatabdi comes at 7:40 instead of 7:10. 

Boring ride as window seat but next to post and a very dirty window.  Use computer to do some work on copying off from Robert’s card and adding the tiger and other photos. More 10 Nov day photo selection and revision, combos

1:20 arrive – cursing speed around 70 mph

Collect bags and off to Florence Inn

Quick sandwich lunch and off to Gandhi Smriti – which I found disappointing and boring – lots of photos, illustrations, little essays, his bed, his last footsteps in stone.  With bad English, over done . . . Over to Craft museum for a couple hours – Bengali baul singers, Madhya Pradesh painters, little knick knacks

Then to supper for the group and an interesting restaurant, as I head off to Kailash’s, phoning him, I’m sorry to be so late.  But drunk or idiot cabby, taking me wrong place first for agreed Rs. 200, the to Kailash’s – fracas with cabby at Kailash’s door 

Finally to very pleasant, and good Indian meal with Kailash and Abha around 9 to about 10:15 talking about hour family and friends.  A pre-arranged Rs. 350 cab got me home around 11 pm.  

 Rs. 15 Kingfisher beer in the room as English Wine Shops closed at 10.

Half hour Internet, some with Deej off to DC visitor / seller Kay with Beth. Send of photo of us at supper to Walter and Deej. And put up on FB

Tiger in Ranthambhore

12 November 2010 Friday

Ranthambhore all day – a morning 3.5 hour run through the jungle, and an afternoon run also.  Then swim.

Up at 5:30 am for tea and cookies at 6, leaving at 6:30 am in an open bus. (fracas)

Pick up some 8 others from another hotel (Dev ??), people from Washington and California states on the Indo-Asian tour. Guide and driver very good.  Into the park  -- see deer, peacocks, langurs.  Finally spot a tiger walking slowly from left to right through the jungle about 150 yards away and I take burst shots of it.  Best photo of everyone’s’.

Then no more. Back by 11, breakfast and I leave to walk and get beer and walk on and on to a Rs. 60 per hour Internet place.  Upload some stuff – Taj and Fatehpur photos and alert Bryson on ‘purchases.’  Back getting a bargained Rs. 150 elephant bag.

Leave at 2 and by 6 for our afternoon run, this time further up, on the right on the plateau on Sector 4, instead of sector 6 lower down and to the left where we went in the morning. The guards and entry stations seem a peculiar ritual – each guide jumping out to make sure they get the approval of their group’s forms.  Then their jeeps or open buses can take off.  There seem to be about 30 total jeeps and buses during each visiting times.
No tiger at all this time – see white spotted owl, 2 separate crocodiles, and a baby crock, more deer and peacocks and langurs, also birds.  See sun setting on way back.

Still sniffles but maybe a little less, but toe is horrible.

Go for swim in the pool in the middle court yard and Robert takes photo after he’s had his afternoon tea there.

Supper at 730 pm – then try Internet without success.  Write Deej to call Walter to call Kailash, etc about Saturday supper – since phone calls to Kailash from my phone just ring and ring

Fatehpur Sikri and into Rajasthan

11 November 2010. Thursday

Fatehpur Sikri and travel to Ranthambhore.

Up and shower /shave, breakfast at 7:30 am, leave at 8 for Fatehpur Sikri on pretty good 4 lane road, arriving at 9:30 am. Gail sits with me

Tour Fatehpur for a couple hours – non-religious part and then religious part, amazing town.  Photo of Emperor Shah Philbar with his 9 Jewels or Chiefs (fellow travellers in the group).  Stub toe badly at the Chisti tomb with sock off.  Back to vehicle and Park.

Now a long, long road trip – mostly on good roads, 4-lane, some toll, with bus doing 40 mph, but 3 sections really bad dirt roads, bumpy, wash boards.  Lunch stop about 2 a place in the middle of nowhere, in Rajasthan and now colorful skirts and turbans.  We head west from Agra, but turn south just before Jaipur, for about 2 more hours in the dark, getting to Ranthambhore Regency around 7.  I had bad sniffles all the way, and the toe is aching.  Super at the Regency, try their Internet, but no good.  To bed, sick, tired, frustrated.

What started out as a good day – fantastic Mughal city and architecture, and watching the Rajasthani countryside go by – turned sometimes into a bumpy road as sniffles and pain engulfed me.

Taj Mahal, front and back

10 Nov 2010 Agra

A wonderful day seeing the Taj, going to a marble inlay shop, lunch at Only Restaurant, over to see the Baby Taj, then around to view the Agra fort from the outside, and across the bridge to see the Taj from the back side – and watch the sun set from that garden.  Supper and go to Kohinoor jewelers, so others could buy some . Back for a swim. Wow, those Mughals were amazing – culture, architecture, flowers, gardens, designs and designs.

A boring list of when, what

7:15 am up and off to walk, getting 2 water bottles and 1 coke

745 Shower

8 breakfast

840 shave

930 bus to Taj, battery taxis, tour with Vivek

11:30 to a marble inlay house, see activity and look at objects; didn’t get the $25,000 2-foot high inlay elephant.

1 Lunch at the Only Restaurant – bamboo walls and ceiling, Rajasthan boy and player greet us

2 To baby Taj – more inlay wonders and designs

4 to back side – to view the Taj from across the Jamuna in a garden

5:30 back to hotel

6 swim by myself in the Mansingh hotel pool in the back - large, swim one end to other

6:30 to jewelers – boring to me

7:30 supper at Multi-Cuisine restaurant

9 back to hotel

Getting bad sniffles –feel rotten.