keeping amused while on the bus
31.01.2016 - 16.02.2016 80 °F
Before I departed on this adventure, I was asked by many what the weather in India is like at this time of year. I just realized that I haven’t really talked about the weather. It’s great. It’s getting warmer as we progress through the itinerary. It was in the mid 70’s in Delhi and is in the low 80’s in Jodhpur. It cools off quite a bit at night, down to high 40’s – low 50’s. I have not seen a drop of rain, but Jodhpur is called the Land of the Dead because of the frequent famines. I understand it did rain in Jaipur overnight, though. So FYI, this is the time to travel to northern India.
I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned orange hair yet either. I’m not talkin’ strawberry blonde, I am talkin’ ORANGE. I remember seeing it the first time days ago (Varanasi maybe). This old guy had bright orange hair that had grown out to reveal three inches of white hair coming in. I just thought he looked like a tired old queen – not in the Maharani sense of the word, either. Then I started noticing it more and more and I knew that there is another explanation for why all these old dudes have orange hair that they don’t even keep up. It’s henna as it turns out, and some men henna their hair to signify that they made the pilgrimage to Mecca. (One can easily see how long ago they went!) Parveen says that for some, they think it keeps them cooler during the warm months. Huh?
Speaking of gay rights (was I?). It’s pretty dicey. Homosexuality has historically been a crime here but the courts are going back and forth on decriminalizing it. I understand that gay rights events and gay pride celebrations held in some cities are tolerated by the authorities. Of course that isn’t enough, but in a country with 25% illiteracy, it’s going to be a long time before the population is enlightened. To be honest, I am surprised that the courts are addressing the issue at all.
About an hour into our drive to Udaipur this morning, Parveen suddenly asked the driver to turn around because she wanted to stop at an elementary school so we can meet the students. In the USA, the teacher might find it very disruptive for a busload of foreigners to file into the classroom. Here, however we were very welcomed. Children study English from an early age and many of them ran up to us and asked, “What is your name?”, but that was about the extent of the conversation. We visited a classroom of older children (11-15) who were a bit more advance in English and we asked them more difficult questions like what is their favorite subject? and what are the colors on their national flag? Then they sang their national anthem to us, and we sang our national anthem to them. That was such a rewarding experience!
One of the other Carols and I have been playing a little road trip game as we ride along from town to town. (There are three Carols on this trip – that’s 25% of the population!) In India, men evidently have absolutely no bladder control. The poor things cannot ever wait until they can get to a more discrete location than the side of the highway. So every day, Carol and I have a counting game – you remember road trips when you were a kid? Count the VW Bugs? Well, Carol and I have a contest to see who can count the most men peeing in broad daylight, in full view of the cars and buses going by. We can be heard announcing “ONE!” “TWO THREE” “there’s number FOUR!” at each other back and forth through the bus. A couple of the ladies have caught on to what we’re doing but a few are still wondering, what the heck? It cracks us up, that’s all that counts.
Other interesting things that we saw on the road:
It’s hard to segue from stupid, classless bus antics to the next stop on our trip to Udaipur, but I will. We stopped to visit the Ranakpur Jain Temple, built by a devout Jain business man in the 15th century. This amazingly intricately detailed giant piece of marble art honors the founder of the Jain religion. We were there for an hour or so wandering around the carved columns and listening to a pre-recorded tour tell us what the carvings and art depict. Even with tourists in there, it was serene and, well. . . . .holy. Jainism is a 2500 year old philosophy, similar to Buddhism, but Jainism didn’t catch on like Buddhism did. Evidently Buddhism had more support from the wealthier classes.
We are finally in our hotel in Udaipur. I’m gonna finish this glass of wine and go to bed.