Monday, February 27, 2012

Travelers' Serendipity

This morning we go birdwatching in Baradhpur, and that is all we have planned for the day. The rest of the day is supposed to be just a travel day -- a long, boring drive. So, in the way that these things happen, it is filled with wonderful surprises and turns out to be one of our most memorable and favorite days of the whole trip. For example, we see these ladies carrying rainbow-colored loads of grass on the side of the highway:

And a pilgrimage, working its way toward Jaipur for the Holi festival next week:

We stop at a temple along the way, but I can't tell you what it's called since it's not normally visited by tourists, and the name is written only in Hindi script. We have to run across both directions of the highway to get there, nearly causing my poor mother a heart attack. It opens just after we arrive, and so we are there to watch the temple-goers enter, ringing the bell at the front. They get stamps (like a Hindu third eye) on their forehead, and if there's one thing I love about Hinduism and Buddhism, it's how un-dogmatic and laid-back they are. So they warmly offer us the stamps, too, though it's so clear we are not followers. In the photo below, I may look like I have a worried furrow in my brow but, in fact, it is just my red forehead stamp. They also have the girls take rice puffs from a communal  outstretched hand, and I quickly usher them away, take their photos, and surreptitiously take the puffs from them and throw them away. The girls want to know why I won't let them eat any, and on our way out of the temple, a boy going in vomits all over -- then keeps going, presumably to stick his hand in the communal outstretched palm, too. "That's why!"

And finally, as we pull into Jaipur, our driver Dinesh takes us to see the Gatalji temple at dusk. It's not on our itinerary, and in fact we've never heard of it, but right from the start, it feels magical. First of all, it's run down -- but not too much so -- and beautiful at the same time. It looks like something straight out of Shangri-La, nestled inbetween cliffs. I take a crazy number of architecture and people photos here. And one of the things that makes it most unforgettable is that this is where we are swarmed by the monkeys.


No comments:

Post a Comment