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Published: August 6th 2007
I thought Indian food in New Zealand was good but wow! It's even more delicious here than i'd expected, & it's so cheap. After our first day in Dehli I was already a self-confessed chai addict. It only costs 5-10c a cup! A decent portion of curry & rice in a cheapish restaurant costs around $1.20 & a chappati costs less than 5c. I wont even mention how much coke costs. I hate it...it's taking over the world!!
The first question I was greeted with when I stepped off the plane was; "are you married?" And so far, the only Indian people i've talked to are men. On our first day we were asked out for a drink by 2 young guys in the business district..I was a bit wary at first but they ended up being really nice. It's really weird with men here because they're so blantant with westerners & when they stare at you, they don't try to do it discretely so it makes you feel awkward.
Driving into the desert
On our second day we drove to Bikiner, a smallish desert town in Rajastan. It took 9 hours & we were completely stuffed when we
arrived. It's so hot travelling here - even when you open the window the air blowing in hits your face with a hot swish. We saw a terrible road accident soon after leaving Dehli. I doubt i'll ever forget it. It was a bit unfortunate to have seen it so early on in our trip because the roads here are scary enough anyway. There were 4 dead people sprawled out in the middle of the road & 2 of them had their guts splattered out beside them. The roads are full of huge trucks here & they're shocking drivers. Our driver told us "they like to dance on the road", which is a great way to put it. They'll be on the right side of the road & suddenly - without warning - swerve out onto the other side. We stopped for chai on the way & everyone from the whole road crowded around us & stared. We were travelling on a small local road & they never see tourists there, so we were like hollywood stars to them!
Rats, rats & more rats at the Karni Mata Temple
Known by most people as the "rat temple", it's where pilgrims
This is especially for all of the people at Champz...Justin, Matt, Zane, Cheryl, Sam, Jack..
I'm not sure what OSH would have to say about it, but i'm sure the kids would love it.
come to worship hundreds (& hundreds & hundreds) of holy rats & it definately isn't for the sqeamish! It seems obsurd to westerners, but it's quite entertaining! You have to take your shoes off to go inside, & if rats scamper over your feet it's meant to be most auspicious. While I was crouching down for a photo rats kept coming over & biting my toes! I'm not sure if that'll bring me good fortune, but who knows! If I was going to be any animal here, I'd opt for a rat. The camels have to work too hard, the cows have to scrounge around in the rubbish for their lunch, but the rats have a constant feast of delicious food & fresh milk given to them every day! And all they have to do is scamper around with thousands of other ratty friends while people bend down on their hands & knees to worship them! It almost makes you feel sorry for all of the rats living in New Zealand.
Jaisalmer, the fort city near the border of India & Pakistan
After leaving Bikiner we headed further into the desert to Jaisalmer. It's a small (by Indian standards) town near
the Indian-Pakistani border. The whole town used to be contained within the fort, but now buildings are popping up all around it.
45-50 degrees every day here
Just before we arrived I got a really bad fever - I don't think i'll ever acclimitise to the average temperatures of 45-50 degrees here at this time of year! It's scary what it does to you - one minute I was fine, just a bit tired, then 10 mins later I was really weak & disorientated, couldn't see properly or walk steadily & had sweat bubbles under my skin! Maybe the 9 hour drive on the first day & 5 hour one on the second didn't help - especially with no air-conditioning or shade. In May & June tourism here completely shuts down, & locals go home & sleep between 12 & 6, when it's too hot to be outside. The temperature averages around 50-52 degrees then! I guess that's when it pays to be a camel.
The Jaisalmer fort (built in 1156) looks as if it has come straight out of a fairytale, or elaborate movie set. Janine remembers, from 20 years ago, camels walking around the alleyways, but
now there are scooters & the only large animals are the lazy Brahmin cows that try to steal food from the markets. It's on the list of 100 engangered sites around the world, & other countries are starting to put money into restoring it.
Oh to be famous
We met the son of a famous indian who was in the Guiness Book of Records. Not really for the largest of achievements! He wrote 824 letters on one grain of rice. We looked through a magnifing glass at heaps of grains with words & pictures on them. It's nutty. He must have been a very patient man!
Marriage in India
I still find the idea of arranged marriages hilarious! We saw at least 2 marriages a day in our last 5 days in Jaisalmer. And there were many more we heard but never saw. In India it seems to be a competition between families..who can have the longest fire work display...which groom can have the largest horse to ride on...who can have the longest line of chandeliers (a truck with a power generator is driven beside a line of boys carrying them..with their cords going into the truck. Kitchy to us
but apparently gorgeous here). Weddings go on for 3 days, with the whole wedding party parading down the street in the evenings.
I met a 21 year old teacher in a lassi shop & he told me he was getting married in two months. His parents have arranged the marriage, but have never met his soon to be wife. They have only spoken with the girls parents! He hasn't even seen a picture of her. They were meant to get married 2 years ago, but the date organised didn't work because he had a university exam, so it has been delayed for 2 years, & he still hasn't seen a picture of her or even spoken to her parents! I've heard that even when people have seen pictures of their husband or wife to be, often they're given pictures of somebody else. Mostly someone much better looking than the person that they have to marry!
We left Jaisalmer a week ago & have been through Jodhpur, Pushkar & are now in Udaipur. Will put some new pics on soonish.
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