Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Jodhpur stepwell and a last look at Jodhpur.

The stepwell in Jodhpur is just a five minute walk from the hotel and took me quite by surprise, we walked along the street and there it was. I was expecting it to be at least fenced in but no.    When you first look at it it quite takes your breath away.  The architecture is amazing.  According to some reports it used to be filled with rubbish but the day we went the water was still very green but quite clear of rubbish. It has been cleaned and sandblasted sometime in the past few years.    Children do swim in it but not that day. We had the bubas with us to photograph.

It is very deep, over 100 feet we were told.  Also the steps are very steep. I took my images from very high up which I have to admit I didn't like. I wished I had the nerve to go closer and sit on the steps.  The Bubas were very accommodating and sat where we asked them and walked about too. I was a little worried that the old Buba with the stick would fall in!


Stepwells (or bawri / baori) are remarkable structures first built in 600 AD. In a dry arid climate like much of Rajasthan access to water is critical. They are literally deep wells that can be reached by a series of descending steps. Such stepwells supported centuries of water needs but fell into disuse during the colonial period as they were seen as unhygienic.
Today there are efforts to revive – both as tourist attractions and as functional ways to mitigate water shortages.  Jodhpur doesn't get a great deal of rainfall even in the monsoon season and water is switched on at the tap in the street every morning and they have their allotted amount for the day.  One day I had to go out with hair conditioner in because the water ran out in the middle of my shower!  I had showered before the water man came!  I hadn't even got any bottled water left.

Last chance to look around Jodhpur old city.

First the market around the clocktower. 
The century-old clock tower is an old city landmark surrounded by the vibrant sounds, sights and smells of Sardar Market, which is marked by triple gateways at its northern and southern ends. The narrow, winding lanes of the old city spread out in all directions from here. Westward, you plunge into the old city’s commercial heart, with crowded alleys and bazaars selling vegetables, spices, sweets, silver and handicrafts.                          

The fruit and vegetable market was fabulous, bright green veggies and everything was so fresh and colourful.

Clocktower behind the market.  The clocktower has a clock on each side of the tower and none of them tell the same time.  Nishal told us that the story is that if you were meeting someone and you were late you would show the person the clock that told the right time for you!

Behind the market!  It is amazing how soon you get used to meeting cows wandering in the street.  In fact it was surprising what I got used to!!

                                                        This was his selling area


I sat and watched this lady while I was having a coffee and she sat there for 30 minutes sorting through but never did buy anything.  The sarees were selling for 100 rupees (roughly £1)  I wish I had bought one now but I was a bit unsure where they were from. I think they were second hand.


                                         He spotted me pointing my camera at the traffic

Immediately starts to take helmet off.


Happy I took his photograph, smiling all over his face as we finally passed!

               And so onto the station again


The train arrived at last and there was a stampede down the platform and much pushing and shoving to get on the train.  They don't wait for the passengers to get off first.

I guess these were lucky and got a seat. Others would be sitting on the floor. I'm not sure which class these were sitting in.

As I walked down the platform I heard such a commotion going on in one of the carriages, with a woman crying out and men rushing to get on the train, I think to see what was happening.
Then this lady appeared at the window, obviously distressed.  She disappeared back into the gloom of the carriages and then it was just the normal noise of people settling themselves.


A little later I wandered down the platform and there she was with the little boy. I guess he was the one she had lost.

I have to wonder why he is looking so sad. I looked around and there was no one there who he was connecting to.  Maybe that is why he looks so sad.  I smiled at him but he didn't smile back.

Pretty lady wouldn't look at me to start with but then gradually smiled.

Happy to be on their way!

My stay in Jodhpur had come to an end and I was sorry about that. I had 11 days there and on the last day I still felt the excitement when I walked out of the hotel.  I still can't believe how I just accepted the filth in the streets and how everything that seemed to go awry didn't really it was just accepted as 'that's how it is in India'.  I loved the people there, so friendly and helpful and for the most part seemed happy with their lot.  I felt safe. I had some days on my own and wandered about quite happily.  I soon got used to being stared at and asked to take photographs . The problem was that some thought I could produce the pictures there and then.  I also got asked for selfies with me. Goodness knows why!  The only thing that made me a bit wary were the dogs.  I love dogs and I do seem to attract them which was a bit worrying.  There are so many and I think they have one litter after the other.  

I have seen and done so much in the 11 days . It was a real adventure.  But next...onto Delhi, on my own and this I wasn't quite so sure of.  But I was sure it was going to be another adventure.....

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A bumpy ride to visit the Boshnoi

The day of our last trip out of Jodhpur dawned, as usual very hot, blue sky and noisy!  Early breakfast, early start.  I'm sure Mark said we were having a comfy 4x4!   A nice big Jeep.  Well we got the Jeep but it was an old battered open jeep (why wasn't I surprised?) and I either had to climb in or stay behind because the back was wired up.  Think old army jeep! We took off down the narrow bumpy alleyways at speed, kicking up the dust, no one moves out of the way, so forcing us to swerve to miss hitting them. The seats were amazingly quite comfortable But feet planted firmly on the floor to stop us being thrown about!  We bumped out of the city and took off up one of the main roads towards where ever we were going!  We had no idea. Mark had asked to go a village where no other tourists go.
So it was a bit surprising when we pulled up at a pottery!...
A pottery with goats!!

Me milking a beautiful well behaved Anglo Nubian goat!

Let me explain.  We had seen a lot of goats during the week and I had told the lads that I used to keep goats and they were impressed (I think) that I knew what they were called.  Actually.... I don't think they believed that I had actually kept goats.  So they sent Kishal off to ask if I could milk one without telling me!
I couldn't believe it when he came back with a silly little can to milk into. I used to use a big stainless steel bucket.  Oh well small can, frisky goat what could go wrong?  Actually nothing, it was like riding a bike!   I had never milked standing up but she was a dream, she didn't budge.  Fortunately she had been milked earlier so didn't have a huge udder to empty.
I filled a third of the can, (without spilling a drop) but had great difficulty straightening up!

I was thrilled to bits really, it had been about 27 years since I had last milked a goat.

It worked

I was very impressed by this.  The wheel is almost on the ground.  No electrics with this one.  It is very heavy. We were asked if we wanted to have a go and I would have but would have found it difficult to have got down that low!  Also the heavy wheel did spin at quite a pace and very close to the toes!  So we let Mark, who impressed us with making a presentable pot.

The potter gets the momentum by using the stick. Muscle power!  The difficult part for the uninitiated is to get the stick in the hole on the side!

The finished object

The little shop sold many different items but in the yard there were many pots and I was 
really interested in the kiln.  My husband's hobby was pottery and we had a wheel (electric) and a kiln.  He always planned on building an earth kiln in the garden.  Not quite sure how it would have heated up in this country, it was high 30's when we there and it gets much much hotter.  One day in May 2016 it was 53 degrees. He was interested in the scientific side as well and used to get me to bring the campfire ashes back from Guide camps. He used them to make glazes. 
Back into the jeep again. The roads around here were very bumpy but the countryside is quite green.  Suddenly the jeep stopped, the driver had seen the goat herders bringing their herds.  We pulled in and everyone jumped out in eagerness (except me, I was flagging! but I did get out and was quite glad I did. There were two herds coming through from where and to where we never did find out but they kicked up a lot of dust!

A little boy appeared quickly from the nearby village to get his photograph taken!
Jeep in the background... back down. Kishal had taken pity on me and asked the driver to unwire it.  He really looked after me and is such a considerate person.

So off we went again........a  short way down the road and we came upon another village. Immediately people were running from all over.  We decided to stop and were straight away asked for money by a young teenage lad.  Obviously they had had tourists there before.
I think he was told off by someone and we went in.


This was the only person who didn't come out to greet us........but he wasn't really shy, he wanted to pose for photographs as did all the boys, the girls didn't get a look in.  Few men around, I guess they were working in the fields.

This is he after getting to know us.

I climbed under a very low straw roof to get in here and I couldn't straighten up.  Wasn't quite sure what she was making but.....

it was these... and it was very hot and smokey in there.

  I planned on having my hands done like this but only saw one shabby kiosk in Delhi that       did this and tattoos. Given the language difference I didn't dare risk going in.  Although I 
 love tattoos and have been considering having one I didn't think this was the time and 

These boys posed themselves for this image!  How could I not take it. I've no idea where the baby appeared from.  I was, at the time, trying to take a photograph of a young girl but they just pushed themselves in. By that time I was just laughing and gave up and spent a happy five minutes teaching them how to do 'high fives'.  They thought it great fun.   Just as we were leaving a couple of older men turned up and money was exchanged!   Rightly so, they had allowed us into their homes and posed.......they deserved it.

More bumpy roads and we arrived at another Boshnoi settlement.  It was very quiet with most of the men again working in the fields.  We were invited in for a cup of chai and to take photographs of one of the tribesmen.  

The only other people we saw were these two women who were very reluctant to show us their faces.

They gathered up the straw and carried it on their heads to another part of the farm.

I had no idea what these things were but...................

this is the gear


and this is the machine needed to make drinkable opium.



In between drinking the opium and having a smoke he pulled his coloured turban apart and redid it.  The fabric was beautiful.  

So that was it. We left him there in a happy state and continued our journey. This time to lunch!  We arrived at our driver's house. A pretty large house with a lot of ground and beautiful horses.  We gathered he was the owner of a hire car business.  This was the feast that was prepared for us.  The hosts were kind enough to make me a separate non spicy lunch and they mistakenly thought I couldn't eat eat the Naan and Roti so made me some Dhebra made from millet. It was delicious.

The two lovely ladies who prepared our lunch.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Blue City and the Railway People

Jodhpur has an area that is called the 'Blue City' and viewing from the top of the fort is an amazing sight. In reality it is difficult to find a specific area when you are on the ground. We went on two occasions. 
The streets are very, very narrow and are only accessed on foot, motor cycle or cycle. 

 I got talking to a Muslim man who had a very fine non blue house in that area and he told me that originally they were painted blue to keep them cool. However, I had been told that the buildings were plagued with a termite which were killed by the copper salt compound that was in the lime wash.  
The blue district was inhabited by the Brahmin (high class Hindu, mostly priests and town elders) class who could afford the washes.
Blue is considered a royal colour and it is commonly thought that the Brahmins painted the houses blue for this reason!  As usual nothing is straight forward in India!

I left Mark outside hovering as I accepted the invitation into his very old house and he proudly showed me the renovated areas and original areas that he had left. I met his wife and daughter-in-law, was offered water and treated very courteously apart from....... he asked me was how old was I. The men always wanted to know how old I am and they would tell me how old they are and all about their family. (Generally the tuk-tuk drivers)   He also proudly showed me his prayer room,


a tiny room where he worships twice a day and invited me to photograph it.  He gave me his email address and facebook so I could send him a photograph. On leaving he told me he was an astrologer and if I send him my birth dates he will give me a reading. That will be interesting!

Up these steep steps and I came across an open door to a really interesting house. I could see there was a mirror inside and just as I pressed the button he came into sight.  I really thought I would be in trouble because he had caught sight of me and I was really glad I was with the lads!  Instead he beckoned us in. I quickly took off my shoes and left Neil struggling to get his off. I went inside and was greeted with such hospitality. I was introduced to his father, who looked very bewildered and his wife who shyly agreed to pose for me.  It suddenly hit me that maybe I was out of my depths and panicked slightly as Neil didn't appear. They wanted to take me up on the roof to see the Mehrangarh Fort. At this point I thanked them and went quickly outside just as Neil had got his sandals off!.  Mark was a little worried that they would have asked me for money. I don't think so and it was lovely to meet them.  It was at this point that I really realised how intrusive street photography is.

We spent a while in the labyrinth, not really knowing where we were. But we had climbed up so we had to come down! And as if by magic at the bottom were two tuk tuks which whisked us away for lunch (cheese and tomato toasties, bliss for me!) at the Cafe Royale at the Clocktower.

The fort is huge and on another occasion we were taken by Kashel to a place off the blue city to do some water reflection work with the Bubas.  Mine didn't turn out brilliantly of the Bubas but I'm very pleased with the ones of the fort walls.

This was at a beautiful lake just below the fort walls. Rather derelict but the buildings were still fine.  The area gave me the creeps a bit and I didn't feel entirely comfortable there as there were a few wild dogs around, it was clearly a place where they lived. I was happier when we got back onto the streets.

This gorgeous lady was sitting in an alley way and I noticed her as we were leaving the area.  I asked her if she minded if I took a photograph of her but she didn't answer and her expression didn't change!

The Railway people.

We had two trips to the railway station and it was more modern than I expected it to be and I was told by one of the lads that the Indians are very proud of their stations.  I would suspect that not so proud of their trains!
All of our gear had to go through the scanner as at an airport.
It is a very lively place.  We were told there would be a train every 30mins. Not so!    We hung around for about an hour and a half and only one turned up...very late.   However, lots of interesting people on the station patiently waiting.


Very surprised to see a flowered carriage

I had seen this beautiful young lady the day before at the clocktower market. She was with her carer and was clearly disturbed. I think she was also deaf.  My tutor said I could make her dress a beautiful bright turquoise but I don't feel that I can do that because in reality it was filthy.  They were begging and she clearly knew what she had to do as she didn't hesitate to grab the notes I gave her. I didn't see so many beggars but the ones I did see broke my heart, as she did.  I would like to think she was treated kindly by the old woman but I don't think so.

I guess they would have walked from the market to the station which is quite a stretch.

I watched this carriage for a while and was quite concerned about the man with the baby. More and more people came and pushed in front of him.  He was still sitting there as the train pulled out.