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January  February Continues  More Ramblings

(Pushkar is just as relaxed as it looks. Tucked into the mountains it sits right on the dividing line between hills and desert. Here tourists come to shake off the dust they picked up in Jaipur and to take brief respite from the famous Indian hawkers and touts.)





February 6, 2000:

 February seems to be running at a much faster pace than January. Not that India has changed in any way, it may have even slowed down a bit just to counter my feeling of time warp. What kind of place can have any grip on time if the words for yesterday and tomorrow are the same? I swear, I sit down for my first cup of tea in a new city and before I'm through a week has skipped by.

Today, up at the temple for Bramaha's first wife, I met an American ex-pat who is living in Delhi. I asked him what he thought about time. He told me that living in Tanzania without a television weaned him from watching television. "Now I have so much extra time to read and do things." He said. "That's all they want in India--television. Don't they see it's better without it?" But I guess you have to have it to not want it, but maybe that's too much of a Western idea.

So earlier this evening I tried to ask the guest house owners what they thought about time. The owner explained that India is in a time of money and power. Two things he didn't have. "If you can finance me for 1,000,000 rupees I can have television in my rooms. Everything you want."

Two people in two differnt worlds. Niether of them answering my question. East meets West. They sit down, have a cup of tea. West looks at his watch while East orders two more drinks. West wonders how much time this will take. East thinks with another four cups of tea West just might give him his watch.

It's a bad analogy, I know. But it's as close as I've come to defining the two opposing veiws, one wanting what the other has. People always say "Time will tell." But I'm telling you that here time is relative.

 February 11, 2000:

 Udaipur. Udaipur. Does anyone remember Udaipur? You're scratching your head and searching your mind, or you're not thinking about it because you're waiting for me to get to the point. The famous city of Udiapur is that same mystical place the James Bond movie Octopussy was filmed. And yes, it really does look as incredible as it does in the film. I, unbelievably, have yet to see the film that's shown at 7 pm in every one of the rooftop restaurants in town. The first evening I went to sleep at 7 due to the all night-er bus that landed me into Udaipur at 4:30 am that same day. And, the second night because the VCR was malfunctioning in the guest house I'm staying in. Tonight might be the big one but it's 6:17 pm right now and I still have lots of typing ahead of me.

I spent the day 17 km outside of Udaipur at a small ashram. It's so small (and under construction) that its yet to have a name. Kalu, our resident chef/taxi driver at the Nukkad Guest House invited myself and another guest out to visit his holy man and make a traditional Rajasthani meal. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, I thought, and went. We took Kalu's scooter. Since arriving in India over 5 weeks ago I've taken several scooters but this was the first time I'd been on one with three people. Luckily it was also the first time I'd been on a really decent road in India so the extra weight didn't hold us down too badly. After we arrived out at the ashram we took a short walk and met the holy man. He said smiling, "Baby!" After a few more "Baby!"s I figured out that it was the only word our sadu, our holy man knew. We made, or I should say, Kalu and a few other Indian men made daal, a lentil stew with a million different spices, and bread balls. I have to admit my failings at remembering the Indian name for bread balls, but I have a good explanation. Every time I asked and Kalu answered his answer was swallowed up with a big "Baby!" from the holy man. So I'll just say we had daal and Baby! To make these babies though, was something. Just like a chipati, you mix flour, water and salt together. But unlike a chipati, you then make small tennis ball sized balls, make a fire out of dried cow dung and cook the babies in the coals. This makes the babies very crusty with a nice dung-like flavor, very Indian.

Tomorrow I've been invited to go on a full day horse back trek. I'll be able to see some of the more remote Rajasthani villages as well as make my ass sore as a pleasant reminder of the trip for the next week. I'll try and write about it but I'll have to see if I can sit to type.

February 14, 2000

 Happy Valentines Day! Okay, I am lying on my stomach typing this since I'm not able to sit due to the saddle sore rear I picked up a few days ago. I went riding for 10 hours but after the 5th hour it was more like the washing you see along the river sides: Indian woman repeatedly whacking the laundry on a piece of flat rock or cement. I was the cloth, the saddle was the rock and gravity a big Indian woman.

The ride was beautiful though. I was able to get outside the city limits and see some of the surrounding villages. Dinesh, our gora walla, or horse man, introduced us to several people in various villages and told us about the economy of the region. Rajasthan missed out on the annual monsoon last season and now most of its farmers are buckling under the drought. On top of this there has been a government strike, as of today, for 64 days. The majority of these villagers, if they have no children working in the nearby city of Udaipur, make just under a dollar a day. When I asked Dinesh about his village and his family he told me that yes, he did have enough money to keep his mother comfortable in the city but she refuses to go. "She told me that she'd die in ten years in the city because she'd have nothing to do. She likes walking the 4 km to the water well every day and being outside."

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