Thursday, 21 February 2008

Pix from Jaipur

Just a few more!

Driving through the back streets of town, you quite often come
across single stalls, in this case, vegetables.   The owner was
very keen to have his photo taken - so I did.

Keep your eyes open at all times.   Keith spied a printer
still using wood and metal blocks with an old fashioned printer.
His workplace was chaotic with boxes of blocks everywhere.
The wooden ones are so dusty, I think they really
needed a new home.  The metal ones consist of some
very interesting motifs.

A rather fine block print of an elephant,
see below how the different colours are achieved.

The beautiful Jaipur blue pottery.  Made from a porceline
type paste, softer than the original Chinese version.
I think the designs owe much to the Persian/Mugal influence.

Four block for four colourways.  If you get to
visit a block printing factory you will be
encouraged to have a go!

That's it from India for now.  I expect the odd image might appear at a later date - I do have a parcel on the way.   I shall phonograph the parcel when it arrives, a masterpiece in itself.  Not just paper and string, but specially stitched in calico and sealed with red sealing wax.  

In the meantime, back to the drawing board so to speak, things to design, workshops to organise - gosh it's good to be back!

Monday, 18 February 2008

A very tempting invitation after
a month on the road - but what to choose?

I have had such a fabulous time.  Met loads of interesting people, seen amazing things, and learnt the Hindi word for 'cold'.  I knew it would be cold at night, but not so cold!   Even now in Bhuj and and Northern India it is unseasonably cold - when we left the weather was warming up nicely in Jaipur, even discarded my thermal vest on the last day.   Note for the future -11 February is the date, apparently, when the spring officially begins.

Already missing curry - think it might be on the menu tonight!   It does become additive if you have curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It's not compulsory, there is a choice of bland food too!

I often wonder why I keep going back.  There is usually one day when it gets to you!  As Mark Tully says - you're never alone in India.   It is a contradiction, the good the bad and the ugly, not to mention the smelly.  All senses are on full alert.   There is nowhere quite like it.

More pix to follow - I think Blogger is busy and doesn't want to play.


Posting from home - yes, we're back.  Arrived home in the early hours of Saturday.  I gave up 
trying to find an internet cafe in Jaipur.   With not much time left, decided to just enjoy Jaipur.

This blog is in two parts - Blogger is playing silly games, and I thought it would be easier 
at home!

Another chance for a train ride from Ranthambhore - only two hours, pleasantly spent looking 
at the scenery going by.  Scrub land, goats and sheep;  mustard and wheat crops; great lumps 
of rock rising out of the land, inevitably with a fort and/or temple on top.

We shared our carriage with two army boys, one was really interested in my Lonely Planet 
guide - never mind that by this time it was quite disgusting having had a pot of honey accident 
in a plastic bag en route.  Although a bit sticky, still just about readable for the last lap of 
our journey.

A trip to Amber Fort just outside Jaipur.   It is huge, not inhabited, so there are many nooks and corners to get lost in - ask me how I know?!!!

Amber Fort having a make over.   At one time the only way up was by elephant, or a 
very steep climb.   New walkways have been built - not so steep, thank goodness.  
The whole of the Fort is undergoing restoration, no mean task.   It did mean we couldn't get 
close to some of the wonderful rooms, but it will look fabulous when finished (in time for the Commonwealth Games next year - or am I being cynical?!!) well worth a visit anyway.

The Fort Sadhu - note collection tin for donations from photographers

An elephant taxi leaving Amber Fort.   Only ten elephants work here now and just in mornings.  
 Due to poor conditions, there is now a plan for an elephant 'garage' nearer the fort.  
At present they have to walk 11km each way and suffer terribly in the hot weather.

One of many niches in a small pavillion.  Mirror glass (shisha)inset 
in white marble.The border is black marble inset into white.
This area is now closed off - at one time is was possible to go
inside the Shish Mahal - Mirror Room.  The door was closed and
a candle lit, the effect was magical.

The end of a busy morning

I have a few more images from Jaipur which I will put on a new blog - I think I might have used up my alloted page space!

Monday, 11 February 2008

To Ranthambhore

As so we leave Bundie for Ranthambhore, apparently the best place to spot a tiger.

Pleasant three hour drive through the countryside, small villages and farms. Definitely keeping away from National Highways and road works. We did stop along the way, firstly at a large lake full of a variety of duck. egrets and cranes. Then at a small town for a chai break. I'm somewhere by the white car - and a very good cup of chai it was, and most welcome after all the dust.
Ranthambhore is really the National Park, with resorts/ hotels arounds. We have a little bungalow, which is really nice. No hot water as yet, though - but extremely good food.

First morning we went up to the Fort, built 1000 years ago. Amazing place, and I was very
proud to have climbed to the top. Very daunting at first, what with my bad back! Keith was
insistant that I could make it. Well I did, thanks to a series of winding zig zag steps breaking the climb to the top, and a few rest breaks to "admire the view".

The Fort was crowded with pilgrims, some making their way by laying down, marking their body lenght, getting up and laying down at the mark. It was a special day for Ganesh. The Temple has such a mass of people waiting to get in. Here is one jolly chap - or has Keith gone native?

That occupied the morning. The afternoon was our first trip out to find a tiger. We had route 2
a reasonable choice. Plenty of spotted deet, sambal, antelopes (the size of a horse), monkeys, a great variety of birds, but no tiger.

Coming back in the cantor (think single bus few seats and no roof) we froze. and when Keith suggested the early morning safari I was not too impressed! Still that's what we are here for.

Early start, 6.00. Blankets at the ready. First sighting a leopard, quite a rare thing to see.
Not to many animals or birds about, still cold and the sun not making it into the valley. Gradually we feel the sun, and the valley opens out. Great excitement, there are tigers about. Wow..........................................we see five!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What can I say?

Off to Jaipur tomorrow - to the land of good internet service, I am working on dail up and it has taken ages!
Apologies for odd font sizes!!

Village life

After spending a day wandering around Bundie, we took a trip out to a potters' village. There were about five families involved in making water pots and chapatti toasting plates - all biscuit fired and decorated with white slip. No glaze so very breakable - no chance of taking any home.

Walking through the village, apart from potters, there was a 'general store' and not much else besides.

Everybody wants to have their photo taken. These girls live on a small farm.
The farm had crops of wheat, aubergines, etc. plus mango and papaya trees.
and a lot more besides. A lot of the produce is taken to market.

The start of the basket making process.
She has a very sharp hook held in her right
foot, to strip thin twigs for the basket.
These are then soaked before weaving begins.

The potter's yard, with kiln on right. The pots are
being loaded onto a lorry, conveniently parked in
the road on the other side of their wall.

Potter's children, with unfired pots in background

On the way back we stopped at a Cenotalph.
Six generations of the royal family are buried here.
Some of the monuments are beautifullly decorated,
but all are in a sad state of neglect. It looks like a
scene from Jungle Book - monkeys jumping around
overgrown shrubs, and a cobra house!

Friday, 8 February 2008


One of the main attractions of the town are the beautiful paintings in the Palace, quite unlike the usual miniature paintings of Rajahastan. These are beautiful, painted in turquoise and azure. Mainly depicting Khrisna and his gophis (milkmaids) or life as lived in the palace.

Rudyard Kipling, apparently, wrote a few words of Kim here in 1888. He described the palace as being built by goblins.

Part of the courtyard - you can see the paintings covering every surface
Lady of the court with bird
Lady of court having a little drink - apparently they did take to drink,
being extremely bored in the zenanna.
This picture was extremely beautiful, and quite light in colour,
trying to capture the feel of moonlight.

A typical decorated doorway

The ceiling painted in the Chinese style - very opulent

More on Bundie next time. I have now handed out keys to a room. Time to vacate the desk! Off on the road tomorrow to Ranthambore tiger spotting.


After a bone rattling journey on and off the unfinished NH78, covered in dust, we arrived in Bundi seven hours later. Described as an enchanting small typical Rajasthani town unspoilt by tourists, it certainly lives up to it's reputation. Everybody very friendly, so it is nice to relax and not be constantly bombarded to go into someone's shop.

We did stop off at Chittogarh - the main attraction there is it's huge fort - so many temples and palaces.
All very impressive
A section of wall with old stonework embedded
A frequent design found in palaces and temples
Border motif on 12th century Jain temple
A shrine to Ganesh - many shrines to different gods appear all over, in alcoves, along the road,
in fields etc. All very minimal in design
We came across this group really enjoying themselves. It turned out that they had hired their outfits to
dress up.The giveaway was they had new cameras and a video.

A rather windswept me at the Jain temple. I am still wearing my thermal vest and wrap!
The good news is that the weather is really warming up, and the thermal vest is in the case.
I am borrowing the hotel computer, having tried all sorts to get a connection. Such nice people. I'll post this, and see if I can get another one off before I have to hand over to reception - already advised a French lady where to get lunch!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Out and about again

A painted wall in the palace, such rich colours - wouldn't mind a copy of this in my bedroom.

We spent another lazy day walking around town, meeting with Puish and his family for lunch.  He plays the Indian flute, his young son is learning the tabla, whilst his daughter is studying classical Indian singing.   As ever we were given an informal concert.  Absolutely wonderful.  Over the years Keith has recorded his music, and this time we gave him a CD of himself on flute. clarinet and Indian harmonium.   We have promised to visit again, when we will then go out to his village and meet up with other musicians.  Well, there is another reason to return!

I came across these chaps in a tiny room down a side alley.  They have stretched chiffon on a frame, and using an ari, or tambour hook, are couching down gold thread, and enclosing shisha.

Very intricate work, and from the size of the wound fabric I would estimate that this is a sari length - around 3 mts.  A way to go then.

For all the bag ladies, this could be your favourite shop. 
 Embroidered bags, bags covered in sequins and/or mirrors.  
Where do you start?

An itinerant musician, very jolly chap.  He was playing his stringed instrument
jangling his double blocks of bells.  Interesting rythmn, if repetative!

Tomorrow morning we leave Udaipur at 8.00am for the seven hour trip to Bundi.  A small town of forts, palaces and beautiful wall paintings.  We shall stop along the way, no doubt interesting things to see.   I'll be in touch again when I can source internet connections.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Out and about

This is my favourite travelling companion - Keith, my husband.  He arrived from UK yesterday, so the journey continues.  Here he is posing in the palace with the lake and The City Palace behind.  Oh yes, he is sporting a rather fine Indian haircut.

These children about six and eight have come into the city from a nearby village,really to beg.They are dressed and made up to represent Pravati and the God Hunaman. Hunaman looks really sweet, so at least a few rupee went their way.

The front entrance to the palace - many houses have these wall paintings, 
but this one doesn't have a forest of wires in front of it!

One of the many coloured windows in the palace - just like sweeties

Yet another wedding band

I must thank those who have left comments!   It is nice to know the blog is getting through.  I am gradually getting the hang of it, and it certainly keeps me on my toes.    
The reason I didn't accept the invite to the feast was merely that I do not eat meat!

Friday, 1 February 2008

Relaxing in Udaipur

Ah, those ladies.  Well this is the story as I understand it!   There must have been over a hundred ladies, all dressed in their brightest attire.  All were given a water pot with a coconut cunningly disguised in muslin.  Apparently this ceremony takes place at both weddings and funerals.  I am happy to say this was a pre wedding one.   The pots are taken to the temple for blessing.
Senior Water carrier

Bride and her bridesmaids ?

There are always little faces looking out at you

A very lazy day -  first wandered over bridge, found a tailor and order a silk kurta and trousers.  
A good start.  Hung out with my musician friend and his wife at Gangaur Ghat - photos later. The spent the afternoon on the hotel roof reading and enjoying the sun.

I took as stroll around the back of the hotel - definitely of the tourist track, as ever
there are always amazing things to see.
There are two other cauldrons out of view.  These guys have been stirring them for 24 hours - dhal, vegetables, meat, and indeed anything else you can think off.  Tonight is the feast.  I was kindly invited, but felt I had to refuse!

This chap is hand carving stone for a new hotel - fantastic work.