The Land of Maharajahs
Where does one begin to describe this place? I have only been in Northern India for a little over a week and already I am in love. Everywhere I turn there are cows meandering down the street, women in every imaginable color of sari, and huge towering forts perched on cliffs. It is sensory overload and it is everything I dreamed it would be. I have already haggled with vendors over pashmina's, eaten a year's worth of curry, and ridden a camel in the desert. Our accomodations so far have felt like 5 star hotels compared to many of the places we stayed at over the past four months. We are fairly hardy travellers now and I doubt that anything could phase us at this point in the game. Lately we have been staying in old 17 century mansions called havalis. They are carved out of red sandstone and painted with exotic murals and designs. The best part is that they are so cheap.
My shopping paradise!!!
After Nathaniel and I arrived in Delhi we started to research the best way to travel around India. Initially we had asssumed that we would take the train, as that is the most common and cheapest way to travel, but then we read that India's rail system is the most dangerous rail network in the world. It crashes anywhere from 4 to 500 times a year. Logically we started to explore other alternativeso only to discover that more than 233 people die on India's roads each day- that is 85,000 a year! We thought that figure sounded a little exadurated, but sadly it isn't. Nathaniel's friend Dan Richardson had warned us about India's "death traffic".... At the time we didn't quite grasp the full meaning of those words. Let me assure you, we are well aquinted now. We decided to hire a private taxi for two weeks so that we could see all of Rajasthan. We figured it was a little bit more expensive but it would be more convienient and would save a lot of time. For the most part it has been a good deciscion, we don't have to wait for hours for a train that may or may not come and we have the convienence of stopping whenever we want to. The downside has been the scary "death traffic". Here is an exerpt from from one of my journal entries:
" What a hair raising journey today has been so far. The stretch of road between Udaipur and Puskar is by far the most dangerous road that we have driven thus far - and not because of loose gravel, steep cliffs or blind corners but because of reckless drivers - ours being one of them. In the begining it was his constant use of his horn that was making us deaf and incredibily irritated. Nathaniel put in earplugs after counting 73 honks in 30 minutes. Painful. Now we are white knuckled with fear that we are going to be sandwhiched between two transport trucks or have a head on colission by a truck hurling towards us in our lane. It is utter insanity! I thought that perhaps I was immune to feeling afraid on third world roads, but apparently not. Our driver only stopped passing trasport trucks on blind corners after we yelled at him that we didn't want to die!"
Alice the camel.. just kidding! There are camels everywhere and i mean EVERYWHERE
Aside from that scary traffic I really can't complain about India. The service here is impecable and people are incredibly friendly. We are throughly enjoying all the old forts, some that are hundreds of years old and full of intrigue. Today we climbed up a mountain to an old amory and saw Asia's largest cannon. Nathaniel was impressed that it could shoot a 50 kilogram cannon ball 40 kilometers. Crazy.
It feels kinda like we have hit our second wind. There was a time for awhile that travelling was getting stale, and I was finding it increasingly hard to remain enthusiastic about another 4 months of traipsing across the planet. But I'm quite happy to say that I'm back in good form, with Jocelyn close on my heels to keep me from antagonizing the monkeys. There are a lot of monkeys in India. - Nate