Mar 05

Rajastan and Jaipur pics

Some pics of our time in Goa

Feb 25

25 Feb, Hampi (‘hempee’)

Sitting on our b&b’s roof. What I see: a troupe of locals with drums and snake-music, doing circles around the village streets. It sounds celebratory. Behind them is a magnificent ancient hindu temple, cut out of stone ages before. The resident ‘travel agent’ / house cleaner hangs around the area below, waiting for fellow travelers to be trapped by his offer of a cheap tuk-tuk tour around the ruins. He’s a bit creepy and Stefan’s already put him in his place. Below us is a 20m2 area containing loads of rubbish, and 4 buffalos. A lady came out a minute ago and hit one with a big stick. She is tiny but it worked and he went inside. She’s barefoot in the buffalo waste. It’s Saturday but kids are running around in school uniforms. A monkey is eyeing the french family’s breakfast - he tried to get ours but stefan nicked him with a blunt knife. A ‘kettie’ is supplied by the hotel, but with no ammo, as this is a ‘holy’ village, strictly vegetarian and non-alcoholic (except for the lone ‘government lodge’ which serves meat & booze.) The buffalo lady now has a huge smile, she’s got a baby cow at the end of a rope. It must’ve been born Very recently, he can’t stand up properly yet. She is so beautiful in her sari and her smile, sweeping the courtyard with tied grasses. I think he thinks she’s his mom. The band is approaching again. In front of us are colossal stone boulders which together with the temples make little Hampi famous. India is splashes of color and I am envious of the Indians’ short memory - enduring hardship and easily bursting into celebration. Planning to rent a bike again today and explore.

Incredible India

Taking the train in India is like boarding a small self-contained city.  It’s impossible to sleep in the daytime - there is a constant stream of hawkers and entrepreneurs trying to entice you with their samosas or grapes, masala chips or cucumbers.  The chai sellers pass every couple of minutes, with their lukewarm milk mixtures, and beggars, singers and even a recent accordion player attempts to rid you of your spare rupees.  At every stop, I imagine that scores board the train, only to catch another passing train later on to get back.  I am amazed that they are all able to evade the system, because the ticket officiers seem fierce and authoratative, at least with us foreigners bundled together every here and there.  This might be due to the Indian system of bribery which permeates every area of life here.  On a previous trip, Stefan got locked in the latrine (it’s a long story) and eventually kick-boxed himself out of it, breaking down the door. An un-fficial bystander promply demanded 200 rupees from  him, to pay for the damage he’d caused.  Stefan has long ago figured out that all Indians are smaller than him, and that they are easily intimidated.  He did not have to pay the 200 rupees.  

A little while ago, an Indian came running down the carriage, shouting ‘look, waterfall’, so we all peered through the barred windows in our non-AC sleeper carriage to try and spot it.  We were passing a lush jungle area with hills and valleys - this was an hour ago, and the landscape has already changed considerably.  Right not it’s flat, dry, brown and interspersed with patches of fields were lower caste men usher their cows along fields full of grains that I do not recognize.

It’s also the place to meet interesting people - fellow backpackers, westerners who long ago got stuck in lawless and forgiving India, and locals who keep shifting seats, try to fill your space with huge nondescript boxes whenever you look away, and do not seem to have any sort of ticket for the journey.

India is heating up and after 3 weeks here we can feel the temperature rising.  Even linen pants are already too hot, only thin cotton will do, and we are stifled underneath our mosquito net at night, trying to sleep through the sounds of truck horns, packs of barking dogs and loud hotel bellboys.  (when Stefan asked one of them yesterday how old he is, he replied ‘18’ with swift practiced confidence.  He looked no older than 13.)

It is true that Hindus revere cows, and believe them to contain something like 360 million deities, each.  Cows roam freely everywhere, eating whatever human waste is left on the streets.  Most of them are decorated in some way, with tassels of bright oranges and pinks, or handmade woven necklaces.  We just passed a small farm truck, the brightest I have ever seen, decorated like it is a wedding car, full of bright plastic flowers and streamers and Christmas type cheer.  The Indians have a way to embellish everything and make it beautiful, from their own bodies to motorbikes and shrines and tuk-tuks and elephants.

Someone just walked through our carriage and proclaimed that it is illegal to board the roof of the train, and that anyone found doing so will be fined 500 rupees ($10) or 3 months in prison.  After some lunch snacks were sold, a small boy came along crawling on the floor, looking for left-over bits of food under passengers’ feet.  And the Brits sitting next to as are still recovering from a serious fit of giggles, in response to a lady singing and asking for money.  They said that she sounded like a cat being wrung out.

And old man in some kind of uniform just warned me to put away the laptop.  ’Be careful.’  Only 3 more hours left to Hampi.

Jan 29


Oct 04

I Have Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold

Aug 05


Aug 03

life expectancy in Angola

Jun 23