Last post from India – rats, camels, and power lines on fire!

Well, first things first.  We finally got around to taking a picture of the brilliant powerlines system they have in India.  It pretty much consists of a rat’s nest of wires supported just above our heads, sort of an ‘each for their own’ type of arrangement.  People steal power, frequently lose power, and we’ve even seen power lines on fire, with no one seeming to take much notice! The other pic is for my dad, who loves taking photos of limes and chiles, and would be interested to know that they are considered a good luck charm here, and strings of them are found on every shop and car!  The picture is sideways, but you get the idea.

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Since Hampi, we’ve hit up some big cities – Delhi and Jaipur, and have some assorted pics.  The first one is the Grand Bazaar in Delhi, a crazy little strip of humanity!  The second is the largest single piece of silver in the world, used to hold Ganga water for some Indian dignitary while he visited England, so he could cleanse himself even while abroad.  The third if from the huge astrological observatory in Jaipur, where the instruments are the size of apartment buildings.  This one is Seth in front of the sundial, which is accurate to 2 seconds.  The final one is Pushkar, where we are hanging out and relaxing until the 18th, when we head to Bangkok.  If you look really closely, you will see the hundreds of kites in the air, as we were here for the annual kite festival yesterday, where kite flying, drumming, and dancing filled the streets!

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The highlight of our last two weeks was the ‘camel safari’ we did just outside of Bikaner.  Two Swedish girls, a guy from Boston, Seth and myself went off for two days into the desert, equipped with 6 camels, 7 camel drivers, guides, and cooks, and two large carts to haul all of the blankets, food, and beer.  Just a casual little expedition!

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The camel trek was lots of fun, as we enjoyed getting to know the funny guides (constantly getting really high), having some local boys play music by our campfire, and getting to know the three other travellers.  But we also rode through some of the poorest villages in all of India, isolated in the desert, accessible only by 4WD and camel cart, with very little water and food after the drought this season.  These towns were the most untouched by tourism that we have seen, and the children would run after our camels, yelling ‘Tata!’ (hello) and asking for our empty waterbottles, a very valuable commodity, apparently.  We wanted to get to know them better but their poverty created a huge barrier, as they were only begging from us, seeing us as bearers of vast amounts of wealth.  Even at night, our campfire was ringed by a group of small children hoping for a handout.  At one point, a boy was begging for what seemed like a beer, but it turned out he only wanted the can, for use as a lantern.  At the end, we were left with the impression that the desert is a majestic and beautiful landscape, but harsh and inhospitable to live in.  We have a high respect for those who can survive in it, and I can’t even begin to understand how they could grow any crops at all in the hot, dry sand.

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The trek finished up in a town famous for its ‘Rat Temple’.  Not sure how this all started, but someone must have started feeding the rats, and the temple became infested with hundreds of them.  Now, they are billing it as the “Eighth wonder of the world” all because of these resident rats, which are now very well fed and NOT afraid of the light or the tourists.  It was not our favorite sight, especially as no shoes are allowed inside the temple.  Perhaps it might be the 1,987,789th wonder of the world, but it ISN’T in the top 10.   

3 Responses to “Last post from India – rats, camels, and power lines on fire!”

  1. vinod bhoajk says:

    I am vino from Bikaner who organise you safari in thar desert of rajasthan. We all are very happy to see your website with nice photos of camels and camelmen and village.
    thanks for it

  2. Jen says:

    Hey Claire and Seth,

    That’s a great picture of those two boys. Look forward to seeing you two in Thailand!

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