Adventures in India   2 comments

Adventures In India

Aug. 25 – Sept 16, 2009

This was our twenty-first trip with our favorite travel company “Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel.” The name of the trip was Heart of India and we did the post-extension to The South of India:  Kerala & Cochin. Pictured below on the right hand side is our excellent tour director Kapil Rohatgi.

India is a land of contrasts—from the filth on the streets to the beauty of the Taj Mahai and Ranthambore National Park. It is a culture like we have never experienced before. The Hindu religion seems to be their life—from the rituals along the River Ganges, to the sacred cows and everything in between.   We enjoyed experiencing the daily life of the Indians.


the Faces of India…………yes:  the beautiful, the happy, the wrinkled, the puzzled, the pleased, the curious, we saw them all.  The beautiful lady in the first picture is a bride.  We were driving along in the countryside and saw the whole community gathered, so we stopped, and Kapil, our tour director, found out the specifics for us.  The colorfully dressed ladies in the picture on the second row were all standing around the bride, and if you look you will see the bride towards the back on the right of the picture.  Another time Kapil had the driver stop at a farm and he got out and asked if they’d mind showing us around.  The pretty girl in the second picture lived on the farm along with the three young men in the bottom right picture.  Whole family units live together and farm together.  Living on that farm were three or four men, their wives, the old mother and all the kids of the three families (lots of kids).  Only the young boys were there that morning because it was the little girls turn for school. Kapil said that the boys will probably marry and their wives will then also live there.

The very, very pretty lady in the center of the first row was part of the group on ladies (directly below).  Kapil interpreted for us and we found out they were from Calcutta on holiday.  They were traveling in a bus and had been on the rode for about three weeks.  This gal had one child who was seventeen years old and her husband was a merchant that owned three stores.  The next ole’ boy was in the market place stirring up something to eat.  The gypsy lady is making clay pots.  The shirtless fisherman and his buddies showed up how to use a Chinese fishing net and this is one of the fish they caught.  The old man next to the fisherman is enjoying puffing on his water pipe.  I have lots and lots of “faces of India” but can’t show them all.  Of course most have a story that goes with them.

View faces of India

View faces

Sacred Cows of India……..Oh, my goodness the cows were everywhere!  In Delhi, with a population of 18 million they really didn’t also need cows wandering around pooping everywhere.  Kapil told us that the cows in the city have a regular route.  For example the cows know to go to a certain dwelling each morning because they will be fed the first bread of the day because, after all, they are sacred, and from there they continue on with their feeding route.

The cows would be in the market areas stealing the produce from the stands or doing whatever else they please.  We were amused watching a cow take an apple from a produce stand, and after she ate it she decided to try something else, but the merchant came around and calmly shooed her away.  She then walked three feet and began to eat at the next stand.  The cows seemed to really enjoy being in the markets, and if they decided to rip down an item of clothing that is for sale at the market, then that is okay also.

Here at home in Kansas if a cow gets out near the road, she is very spooked and one must slow down and be very careful.  Well, in India the cows don’t become spooked.  You may find them laying in the middle of a six lane highway, or just wandering through the traffic.  Everyone will stop if necessary because after all they are sacred.

The Children of India………… Oh, my, the precious children we saw!  Just look at those faces.  I don’t really even need to comment, but of course I will.  The first child appears to have on eye liner along with the dot on his or her forehead…don’t know.  The little gypsy boy was riding in a basket carried by his dad and he had a mustache painted on under his nose, along with a mark on his forehead.  In the center picture the group of boys were in a classroom at a school we visited.  In the next picture Jim had lined up the three little kids, and then they enjoyed seeing themselves on his digital camera.  A couple of the kids were fishing at the river. The little girl with the yellow dress was at a wedding that we attended for awhile.  Kids are precious the world over.

View children

View children 2

Laundry Service in India……..I suppose these poor people get paid .3 cents a day.  We visited a laundry service place and got to observe the whole process.  (The six small pictures.)  They had cement cubicles with a little area full of water.  Of course for that to be filled with water, they carried it by the bucketful.  They would scrub and beat the clothing on the rock, and then rinse it in another bucket.  There was a huge area of clotheslines, but no clothes pins.  The clothesline consisted of three strands of coconut rope, and the clothing is pushed in between the strands until it stays on the line.  Have you ever seen a coal iron?  Well that is what they used to iron the clothing.  We watched a guy fill this huge iron with hot coals, and then lug it over to the big ironing boards.  Now, do you appreciate your present job more?  The large picture taken in Mumbai, shows where people live in the make shift tents and it appears they are washing their clothing in nothing much better than a mud hole.

View Laundry

Modes of Transportation……..There is always room for one more!  If we’d look in a public bus we couldn’t see one inch of room between the people that were piled inside, but of course there is always room on top.  In the trucks going down the road it would look like whole communities were loaded up.  I would have loved to have counted the number of people that were riding in the tuk-tuk in the fifth picture.  The fourth picture isn’t crowded with people because that’s half of our group riding in comfort in the cute little truck.  Jim & I were in another truck looking back at our friends.

Not only are the modes of transportation crowded, the highways and bi-ways are equally crowded with everyone driving helter-skelter like maniacs.   Even though there might be marked lanes on the roads….not to worry….just drive where ever you want, in any direction that you please and play “chicken” with the guy that you are about to have a head-on collision with.  Don’t forget to add to the mix: a few camels pulling carts, an elephant or two, a herd of goats, cows sleeping in the road, a pig or four, a lady herding water buffalo to water, fifteen chickens and a rooster or two, a tractor pulling a wagon loaded with produce and all the neighbors, a cow walking along eating out of the back of a vegetable wagon, bicycles, a bicycle rickshaw (school bus) loaded with cute little kids, motorbikes, someone selling something, and men pulling rickshaws loaded to the sky with goods.  We escaped with our lives on the highways and bi-ways of India.  Oh dear, what an experience!

View trans

The River Ganges………We arrived before daylight at the Ganges River in Varanasi, which is the Hindu holy city that is located on the sacred Ganges River.  Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back over 4,000 years.  I don’t think any trash has ever picked up in that period of time either, and the river is supposed to be the most polluted river in the world.  We walked through the nasty streets and down the steps to the river where we boarded a boat.  It had the spirit of an unending religious festival with pilgrims crowded on the narrow streets and riverside ghats (steps). People were arriving at the ghats at dawn to take a ritual dip, perform yoga, wash cothes, and offer flowers and incense to the river.  We saw the riverside temples and bathing ghats in the light of dawn.  We watched devotees performing their daily religious rites on the stone steps on the river’s edge.

However, the most uique experience of all was observing the cremation site from our boat.  Kapil told us that the most holy thing that can happen to a Hindu is to die in Varanasi and be cremated at the Ganges River.  Cremation takes place twenty-four hours a day on numerous piles of burning wood.  They cremate the bodies shortly after death, wt the bodies being wrapped in cloth and carried to the ghat on a bamboo litter.  We watched as they dipped the body in the river three times, then carried it to the one of the many burning piles of wood.  After they are cremated their ashes are thrown into the river. When the cremation experience was over, we climbed out of the boat, walked up the steps and back through the narrow, crowded dirty streets.  And oh my, this area was something to experience also.

That evening we loaded up, two people per rickshaw and went back to the Ganges.  It was really rather sad with this little tiny guy pedaling we big Americans down the street.  This was also a very nerve-racking ride down the busy streets among the cars, trucks, buses, cows, pigs and people.  It was a relief to actually get off and walk again through the narrow, dirty streets down to the river.  Again we loaded into a boat and this time got to observe the aarti ceremony which is a Hindu ritual where light is offered to deities.  We also observed the fires of the burning cremation site after dark.  Well…..this day certainly was a unique experience, one that we won’t forget anytime soon.


Posted October 13, 2009 by marilynfarmer in Travel

2 responses to “Adventures in India

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  1. Very much enjoyed reading your trip blog about India and
    Amalfi Coast. My husband and I are thinking of taking those trips too.

  2. Hi there, always i used to check weblog posts here inn the early hours in the morning, as i enjoy to find out more
    andd more.

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