Musings from India (2005)

Some notes from my Peace Corps experience 2003-2005.  On December 25th, 2005 I managed to fly from Uzbekistan, where I was stationed, to Delhi.  I had a wonderful young man driving me from Delhi around Rajastan…who, as sweet as he was, managed to infect me with some damn virus.  Next time, hands together and a slight bow!  The day I arrived was when the horrible tsunami hit the east coast of India, not to mention Indonesia.  I found out about it walking from my hotel that night where I espied a neon news feed announcing it.  It was far away from Delhi and somewhat surreal.

The next morning Danesh came to pick me up and we headed to Agra and the Taj Mahal.  One hears so much about the Taj and it is incredibly beautiful.  To get there, however, you go through the slums of Agra and proceed out of the city to the Taj.  I expected it to be all by itself as it is in so many pictures but there are matching structures on either side of it made of sandstone and marble.  They no longer allow you to take any photos inside but the real beauty is the white marble of the exterior.  It’s too bad there’s not a beautiful view from there.  The river below is pretty lame and the number of people visiting is distracting.  At least I had my picture taken in front of it.  Afterwards we visited the Fort there which was quite enormous and beautiful.

On our way to Jaipur the next day the road was pretty boring.  Mainly camel carts and cows on the road with the cars and trucks whizzing by.  I probably saw about 5 trucks turned over during the trip as they caught a wheel on the shoulder of the road and flipped.  At one point we had to stop and pay a toll to get into Rajasthan.  It was a veritable side-show with the monkeys and bears on leads and available for pictures.  I, of course, took one and paid the man.  Danesh had told me to not get out of the car.  He took such good care of me.  But I wish I had neglected the advice sometimes, as I feel I might have missed something.  We got into Jaipur and wound around the streets and through the markets as the road kept getting more narrow.  People walking, cows walking, bicycles being ridden, horns honking, dust in the air.  I worried that Danesh was taking me to a horrible little hotel until we turned from the filth of the street into a gate and drive.  He dropped me off at the front where a uniformed valet, turban and all, opened my car door.  It was as if I had stepped into the British Raj.  There was a complete isolation from the noise and the crowded city just beyond the wall.  I was shown a room at the top of this converted palace that was quite in keeping with my vision of India.  It was a bit cold and was opposite the manager’s lodging and I felt a little like a single woman being hidden away.  I did complain but grew to like my little place at the top.  The main building had a beautiful library and sitting room and I had some tea there before dinner.  I talked a bit to some Australian women who were heading on to Udaipur where I was heading eventually.  I actually did see them there too.  I didn’t go out into the street but did some email at the internet shop and looked at some items to buy in one of the hotel shops.  The hotel was quite dark and furnished with British paraphernalia.  I was still concerned with mingling with the population and it took me some time to get used to the closeness, the hawking, and the great unwashed.  After here in Jaipur I got a little braver.

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About micetrail

An avid traveler, trader and terpsichorian
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