After 7 more weeks of work in Delhi in January and February, Jeff and I are travelling again. I’m really appreciating my work schedule, since my second work shift was so much shorter than the first of 11 weeks Work has been interesting, and as always I’m learning a lot and love being immersed in the world of evaluation. On the other hand, it’s hard being in a supportive role -the movement of the projects is totally dependent on others, who do not always have the time, willingness, or ability to take things further. So again, it’s about patience, doing everything you can, but standing back and letting people take things in in their own way. I’m happy, as long as my days remain full.
And then… Rajasthan. What a magical place: palaces and forts, camels and elephants, vibrant music and dancing, women wrapped in the most colourful sarees imaginable, and men sporting bright turbans and huge moustaches.
Right up until the eleventh hour we had a plane ticket booked forGoa, the chilled-out beaches in the Southwest. At 1am the night our flight was supposed to leave, we decided we just could not miss the chance to see Holi in Northern India, where it is really celebrated. So we cancelled the flight and found ourselves in Jaipur that evening. We stayed in a great hotel with a little pool and garden area, away from the hustle-bustle of the city. They offered a pre-Holi celebration with music, puppets and traditional dance, and we also went to an elephant parade nearby. Highly touristy, but still fun.
On the big day, we “played Holi” with the staff of our hotel and the staff and guests of surrounding places. Which basically involves throwing a lot of coloured powder paint on each other, yelling “happy Holi!”, dancing around to Indian drum beats, and trying not to let the Indian teenaged boys get too friendly when they hug. Lots of fun.
Jaipur is a fun and vibrant city, with an amazing palace, a beautiful walled in old city full of pink sandstone, and insane amounts of shopping to be done. We have a box of bedspreads and other textiles waiting for us when we get home. From there, we went to Ranthambore National Park. Our attempts to see a tiger were in vain, but we did see lots of peacocks, deer and their larger cousin the sambar, monkeys, crocodiles and many birds. Other run ins with nature included getting head-butted by a cow at the train station – or “gored” as Jeff likes to say. Unfortunately, we lost most of our pictures of this part of the trip 😦
Next, we went back to Jaipur and splashed out on a private car tour of some major stops of Rajasthan – Jaisalmer, the golden city; Jodhpur, the blue city or sun city; and Udaipur, the lake city. We felt a bit indulgent, but soon learned that many people travel the area this way, due to reasonable taxi prices, long distances between towns, and some very cool scenery on the drive. Unfortunately, I was 0 for 2 against the animal kingdom, when we took a camel safari in Jaisalmer and mine tried to throw me off, resulting in major anxiety and some rope burns. Watching the sunset from a crowded but beautiful sand dune made up for it.
Unfortunately, the rest of this leg of the trip was dominated by an awful ear infection, which brought stabbing pain to one ear, a fever, and partial deafness. I visited an ENT specialist and paid about $5 for a consultation and a ton of medications – the pain and fever have mostly abated, but I’m still quite deaf.
We are now in Kerala, in Southern India… more on that next time, and some more rajasthan pictures to follow at some point.