Palitana, Gujarat, 2009. Shatrunjaya is one of Jainism’s holiest pilgrim sites. A mind boggling array of 863 temples perched on a hilltop plateau high above the gulf of Cambay. Three thousand two hundred steps lead to the top. We began to climb. Slowly but surely. Luckily there was plenty to distract us from our aching calf muscles and thirst. Donkeys being herded uphill, carrying paniers … Continue reading The Black Sheep of the Jain Family.
Ranthambhore, India 2009. Ranthambhore National Park was once the hunting ground of the maharajas of Jaipur and is one of the last few habitats capable of supporting viable populations of ‘Panthera Tigris” – the Royal Bengal Tiger. The guide tells us, ‘a tiger knows when a jeep enters the forest. Whether he chooses to show himself or not is his decision’. Seeing a tiger needs … Continue reading The Tiger Walks In The Morning.
The Build-up – ‘the wonderful’! “We spend so much money on weddings”, sighed Mr. Singh. He might also have said: energy. An Indian wedding requires stamina from all concerned. An unceasing stream of ritual, prayer, blessings, dance and music. For days, our guesthouse in Bundi, Haveli Katkoun, had been filled with song. Family member from all over India had arrived and a happy chaos reigned. … Continue reading An Indian Wedding: Weird & Wonderful.
From the archives: Bundi 2010. Once in a while you meet someone extraordinary. Someone with such an infectious positive energy, that the only thing you can do around them is smile. Mr. Prakash Gupta – alias Kukki, is known throughout Bundi. He began talking as he welcomed us into his living room cum bedroom. Pulling out book after book, he proudly showed us articles that … Continue reading The Intrepid Mr Kukki.
Shekhawati. 2010. Shekhawati is a landscape of narrow country roads, half forgotten villages and beautiful havelis. (large ornate traditional houses). Crops of bright green mustard seeds, wheat and cauliflower interlaced with sandy tracks, ornate yellow sandstone wells and crumbling cenotaphs. An open air painting of shifting colour and light. Once an area on the silk trade route between the ports of the Arabian Sea and … Continue reading Shekhawati: An Outdoor Gallery.
She greeted us with a traditional ‘namaste’ greeting. Palms pressed together, fingertips pointing heavenwards, hands just below her face. She bowed her head – “welcome”, she said and ushered us into our room – guest quarters at the front of the house. She busied herself, fetching water which was set on a small table in front of us. “You will take tea”? Chai cements all … Continue reading Portrait Of A Hindu Housewife.
Fabulous headgear of men in the Thar desert. Bulbous brilliantly coloured affairs. A rainbow, dotted, flecked ‘who’s who’ guide, to area of origin. A map of home, cloth of belonging. And beautiful to boot. Continue reading Men In Turbans.
Every October in the 8th month of Kartika, business and religion come together and the quiet town of Pushkar is transformed into the circus that is the Pushkar camel festival. Thousands of livestock owners stir in the Thar desert, pack family and belongings onto wooden carts, trailing camels, horses, and cows behind them, to trade on the Mela ground – a huge, dry, expanse of … Continue reading Pulsating Pushkar.
We noticed the barber shop, the size of a postage stamp, squeezed in between the internet cafe and our guesthouse. “Shave sir”, asked the barber appearing out of nowhere, nodding at Jim. “Can I have a haircut”, I asked hopefully. Normally the only customers in these shops are men. “Yes, yes, five minutes waiting”. All three chairs were occupied so I sat on a bench … Continue reading The 80 Cent Haircut.
Our very first trip, after becoming nomadic? We jumped in at the deep end – and in 2009 spent seven months in India. Delhi, with a population of 12.8 million, everyone of them, it seems, on the make, was down right hard work. Tenacious touts pretending to be our best friend, wanting to direct us to places where they would receive commission. Auto rickshaw drivers … Continue reading Delhi. Frantic, frustrating, frenetic.