The third full day in India began with a six a.m. wake up call, down for breakfast by six-thirty, and ready to board the bus to leave by seven-thirty. Because of traffic leaving Delhi it was important that we roll out early - otherwise it would have taken us hours just to clear the city. This early morning thing was to become the theme of the trip. Usually to beat the heat, but sometimes it was to beat the crowds as well. We didn't mind. We didn't travel half way around the world to sleep - sleep can be had at home.
This day was to be primarily a road day - ultimate destination Jaipur - but as is OAT's pattern, there were some very interesting and frankly wonderful adventures to be had along the way. But first, the first half of the road trip. So much to see! We began to see and learn about the life and culture of Indians who live outside the major cities. Almost the moment we left the city we began to see so many amazing things.
Like dozens and dozens of smokestacks from brick kilns - probably hundreds to be honest. Not much to look at here, but they were a part of what we saw all along the trip even up into Nepal.
At the border of each state of India we had to stop and the bus driver's helper had to take a list of all the foreigners on the bus to some both. At each of these stops there would be vendors ready to sell us trinkets - bangles, necklaces, postcards, little stuff. Most of the time the price would end up being 100 rupees (about $2.50) or maybe 200 rupees (necklaces).
On the topic of these street vendors let me fill you in on a few realities of life in India. It might seem that this sort of constant pressure to buy something would be irritating, and at times it was, but India is a very poor country with a population of around.......... and a massive poverty rate. These guys could be begging - at least they are trying to make an honest living and because of that fact I didn't mind. It is also this fact that kept us from bargaining too hard. As for begging children, I told you earlier that we agreed not to give the children money, or even candy. Here is why - all of these children are put on the street by adults who take their money from them as soon as you give it to the child. Also, these children need to be in school so that they can build a better life. School of some form is available to all of them. But even children of modest means will beg instead of going to school if they can convince the tourists to give them money. Those giving a few rupees here and there are dooming the children to a life of begging. Karni begged us to please not fall for the tricks these often cleaver children employed. I watched Karni deal with one after another as he would ask them "why aren't you in school?" Without exception they would reply that they go to school but that school is out today. He told us he'd been getting these same replies from the same children for years and regardless of what time of year or day of week. There was one boy who very cleverly told us he "collects American coins" - haha - in perfect English. Karni told me this boy can say the same thing in perfect French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese.... basically any language you can name. Obviously a bright boy wasting his future for a few easy rupees and he'll never learn a trade.
So anyway, on with the picture show
Village after village
Almost as soon as we got into Rajasthan, the state with Jaipur, we began to see camel carts.
This picture shows a family of five on a motorcycle - can you make out all five of them? A common sight.
Isn't she gorgeous? Those eyes! She was as interested in us as we were in her. She's all done up for a wedding - hennaed hands. People in cars, trucks, and buses were always interacting with us as we went along. Smiling, laughing, waving, taking our pictures, inviting us to take theirs.
One of many forms of public transportation - seriously.
You know you're going slow when the camel carts are passing you...
In front of most all "truck stops" and at the beginning of most small villages there were these communal water tanks. As we passed every single one there would be men bathing - and often children as well - (they keep their underwares on), brushing their teeth, washing their clothes - all together, all from the same tank, all right there on the side of the road. You can see their clothes on the line, drying in the sun.
One of the sights I found most beautiful were all the women working in the fields in their bright sarees. I bet the women outnumbered the men 10:1 when it came to working in the fields - or anywhere else for that matter.
This is pretty typical of the villages we passed through. Cows in the road...
Just after this point we stopped for lunch and a walk through a bustling small town. I'll share all of that in the next post. Enough of the vacation slide show for one post.