Page 6 of sapere18 Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Kinnaur July 22nd 2008

Shimla was waking up, as were the folks on the benches in the waiting area of Shimla’s shabby Rivoli bus stand. The man at the ticket booth was ready at his post by six fifteen, but not willing to issue me a ticket until a quarter hour later. I have learned not to ask why anymore; he was printing out tickets for others. I am doing my utmost not to resist India, as confusing at it is at times. “Come back in fifteen minutes.” He firmly asserted. I saw my bus scrunched in between others. It wasn’t going to leave without me. “OK, thank you.” Killing the man with kindness and a smile had no impact. I went back to a steel bench, hugged my pack, and watched the rest of the residents of the bus ... read more
You Can't Eat Just One!
Kinnaur Toppee
A Temple With A View

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla July 20th 2008

The state capital, composed of various vertical and rectangular buildings, is on the brink of sliding right into the valley below. I determined to bypass the taxi stand and walk the mile or so to town while dodging the exhaust pipes of buses and other motorized hazards. “Oh, and good news for you, sir! No Indians at this hotel.” Huh? The comment made no sense to me as I followed the Punjabi concierge up to my overpriced room. With a view of the entire city, a room here is often part of a packaged weekend for people from Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jaipur, or Delhi. In the lull of the off-season, it is possible to wheel and deal a little bit. I did. But Shimla is primarily for Indian tourists. “So, you can meet some nice Australians and ... read more
Yorkshire Dales?
In the Clear

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla July 17th 2008

For the next thirty hours, my only goal was to get there. Even as the bus pulled away from Jaisalmer, I hadn’t confirmed where there was. Ticketed through to my transit point of Chandigarh, I knew I would not stay long. I had some ideas, a general direction. To Amritsar in Punjab? Back through Haryana to Haridwar in Uttarakhand? Only in transit would my next resting point reveal itself to me. It would depend on connections and how easily I could manage them. I was sure it was time to go north. My big connection was back in Bikaner, home of the Chhalanis, where I would board an overnight train. Bus personnel on the route between Jaisalmer and Bikaner spend the overnight on top of the vehicles’ roofs. Sipping my cup of morning tea at five ... read more
Footbridge?  Why?
Medical Advice in India
Everything Just Shrunk!

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaisalmer July 14th 2008

The same rains later marched on Jaisalmer and laid siege to the city. Over the city’s long and turbulent history, the battering is nothing new. The downpour is vengeful, as if it were payback for prior misdeeds Jaisalmer committed over the years. Or perhaps it is nature’s way of delivering a vital resource all at once and letting its inhabitants sort out the details. At any rate, the storm does serve a sanitary purpose. It carries away swift streams of solid waste in torrid currents downstream into ditches and alleys. Within a matter of minutes, Jaisalmer cannot absorb the assault of water, and becomes an urban river of brooks ankle to shin deep. The water rushes out of sight. It has to end up somewhere below. By now I am sure that is not where too ... read more
Love This One!
Natural Shower
Rooftop Restaurants

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaisalmer July 12th 2008

That there would no air-conditioned coaches on the desert rail line between Bikaner and Jaisalmer made little difference to me. So what? Why should it matter? It is a morning journey. I’ll be in a hotel room by mid-afternoon anyway. Except for the padding on the seats, there is little difference between traveling this train in second class or the inferior sleeper class. The masses jump on the hard wooden benches of the sleeper cars, as the empty train halts at Bikaner station twenty minutes before the seven-thirty a.m. departure. Moms supply padding to soften the blow between bench and bottom. Within a short time, sleeper class is bulging with passengers. Many of them have fallen asleep, uninterested in the morning routines at Bikaner’s railway station. Families and day workers climb down from one platform and ... read more
Where Did That Come From?

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Bikaner July 12th 2008

The Thar Desert is selective as to what lives or dies and what flourishes or withers. Make no mistake, it has the final word. It is a flat, featureless plain of low, bristly scrub. The Chhalanis and I roll through the Thar in the Chevy hatchback. Conversation among them concerns either business or family. I stare fifteen miles into the distance and no changes in the landscape. I cannot help but fear what would happen if a vehicle broke down and there was no assistance. The sixty-kilometer ride permits the family to question me. After having explained the writing portion of my journey and where I would like to take the project, Mrs. Chhalani was not getting out of the car without a few bold words for me with respect to how I should write about ... read more
Full View
Animal Pen
Mr. Chhalani

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Bikaner July 11th 2008

Mr. Chhalani and his son were there to meet me on the platform as promised. The father speaks in spurts. If you haven’t gotten to know him well enough, you’d think he has a crabby disposition. His deceptive irritability conceals an unconditional, yet forceful kindness. Hanging out with the entire Chhalani clan is an exercise in tag-team hospitality. Once one of them is done strangling you with generosity and consideration, he runs to the corner of the ring and slaps the hand of a brother or the lady of the house; on comes the next to smother you with more. In the end with the Chhalanis, resistance is futile. Their newly built, custom-designed mini mansion is indicative of the name they have made for themselves in Bikaner. Yellowing newsprint still sticks to walls above doorways where ... read more
Just Outside the Gate
Packworth Factory
The Boss

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jodhpur July 10th 2008

The phone rang on his landline at home. His cell phone rings far more often. His primary servant Dinesh, a rather sheepish man, handed me the cordless receiver in order to speak with his boss. “Richard,” Madhukar called out on the other end, “how is everything? Are you comfortable?” Well, yes. I have a two servants looking after me, a private driver at my disposal, and an armed guard for protection. The house is my own and the air conditioning makes my room feel like an Arctic biome. Things are looking pretty good. “Fine, just fine, thank you.” “Look, for dinner tonight, I thought we could make one stop first. An important religious leader has agreed to meet with me, and that is very special. He is one of the most important religious leaders in India. ... read more
Esteemed Leader
Next In Line
Part of the Job

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jodhpur July 8th 2008

There’s something to be said for a game named after an insect that takes the better part of a PhD to understand. Having shown the mildest of interest after watching from the sidelines for ten minutes, the eldest man looked at me and pointed the handle end of the bat at my chest. I was seated on some steps by the side of a water pump; my feet reaching over the open sewer ditch to the ripped asphalt. “Do you want to bat?” he asked me. I admit I hesitated. Fifteen years ago, I would not have. How hard could it be, anyway? I grew up playing baseball and was decent at it. I’ll show these Indians a thing or two on how to a hit a ball. I was confident. It had to be easier: ... read more
At Bat
Visit to Barber
Quiet Home

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra July 5th 2008

Whole families had already jumped to the platform before the train came to a complete stop. Long gone was the thoughtful man with whom I shared my open compartment. The overnight train from Calcutta to Jodhpur arrived to collect the masses in Agra two hours late, at ten o’clock in the evening. In a lapse of judgment, I expected ushers to bring meals or snacks. All in the couchettes had spread out their sheets and drawn the drapes across their compartments. Services had ended and it was time to go to sleep. For me that meant it would be until morning until the servers would come by again. Initially it didn’t matter. The breeze from the energetic but experienced air conditioning ducts chilled my drenched shirt. I knew I would have to change it soon, but ... read more

Tot: 1.348s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 23; qc: 147; dbt: 0.1218s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 3; ; mem: 1.9mb