Sunday 30 April 2006

India: the Golden Triangle - Bharatpur to Alwar

Received further indications of my worsening Alzheimer’s. Despite the usual ritualistic checking of our hotel room I managed to leave my camera bag under the bed. Thankfully the hotel staff found it while we were checking out. I think even a goldfish would remember it’s (underwater) camera.

The roads were quieter than usual on this Sunday morning as we rumbled north through village after village. Overcast skies and heavy fog created flat grey scenery, interrupted only by clusters of brightly dressed ladies in their Sunday best. We snacked on packoras and Indian pickles.

Our hotel, The Hill Fort Kesroli in Alwar (150km from Delhi) popped out of the mist from nowhere. The 14th century fort sits on top of a hill overlooking farmland and a small village immediately below. From the turret outside our room we could observe intimate details of daily life that would not normally be seen: children being scrubbed at water pumps, sad motionless donkeys, lumbering buffalo, waggly-eared goats with no sense of direction and ladies doing domestic chores while the men napped in the intense heat of late afternoon.

We wandered into the village before dusk and gained many friends by taking photos. Photograph one boy and soon ten others will appear, all wanting to see the resulting image on the back of the camera. It is part one of the joys of life when a group of children have a bit of fun with a strange foreigner; but inevitably older boys arrive and ask for money and pens (a pretty popular request everywhere). Ignoring these demands, we continued. I managed to snap a house of poop. These family-tent sized buildings with highly decorated walls appear all over Rajasthan. We learned that these are piles of cow patties with a covering of poop for long-term storage. Even more intriguing was a teenage boy who was pestering us for money. Not sure what effect he was trying to achieve, but he seemed to have smeared fresh cow poo in his hair.

The air was very oppressive as we sat in the courtyard before dinner, sipping cold drinks. The only sound was from the gentle hum of a brave French couple serenading their young children. We ate for England, again….so good!.

The combination of thick 14th century stone walls and an air conditioning unit built around the same time, created an unbearable temperature of about gas mark 6 in our room. I awoke at 2am to find Mrs M encamped outside on the turret. I made tea and read a few chapters in the dampness of my bed.

1 comment:

Whickers on Wheels said...

Loved your description of Indian life viewed from the turret: pure poetry. But surely it's the ladies not the waggly-eared goats who have no sense of direction!