End of France, Start of India by Patricia
For our last dinner in France I ordered the lamb, well done. (I know I know, not very cool). Before I can blink the head guy at the restaurant comes rushing over, arms outstretched, palms upward, looking completely exasperated. He shouts out Madame, Madame! I could NOT have the lamb well done…...this thing and that thing. So to shut him up and stop people from staring I said “fine, fine medium is good”. It turned out to be delicious, cooked perfectly and was a yummy end to all that French decadence I have descended into. The weeks of croissants, baguettes, cheese, foe grass and wine have come to an end and once on the plane I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t need the seat belt extender…. and recommitted myself to my vow of treating my body like a temple when we touch down on Indian soil.
Well we are here and it’s already fabulous! No description I could come up with could possibly do it justice. Everything is more… more noise, more pollution, more colour, more wealth, more poverty, more, more, more. The line up for the first day excursion was The Red Fort, (spell binding) Qutab Minar, a religious building dating from the onset of Islamic rule in India. The spice market…. always interesting for Aaron. ….Humayum’s tomb built in the 16th century. Jama Masjid – India’s largest mosque which can hold a whopping 25,000 people. Oh yes of course the stop at the “handicraft store where Barb bought a table cloth and I bought a scarf for “mosquing”. It was really chaotic when we got out to go up to the mosque (Jamma Masjid) and Barb grabbed her table cloth in case she needed to wear it as a head cover. Right… Well when we got up there it wasn’t our head that was a problem, it was our legs (we had capris on) and they gave us these long robe things to wear. Mine was green polka dots, Barb’s turquoise blue. Aaron looked the best because he just had to coolly wrap his housecoat around his waist. Of course we attracted all kinds of attention looking so ridiculous and right away this guy rushes over and wants to interview us for TV because India is having the Commonwealth games and I guess they need fluff footage. We are barefoot and the cement was zoiling hot so sporting our new housecoats Barb and I gather our courage and sprint across the red-hot sandstone to the spot where we will make our Indian TV debut. All the while Barb is clutching on to her new tablecloth/head scarf. As the cameras were rolling a large crowd gather round probably thinking we are movie stars as we looked so fabulous. At this point Aaron has totally bailed. We said all the right stuff yes we love India; yes we love the food, yes! Yes! Yes! And what would we say to the Indian people... Blah blah we mumbled something about how they should be proud etc. Then it was over and we raced back over the hot coals and out the door to claim our shoes.
Taj mahal - met the driver we hired to ferry us around for the next 13 days and headed down to Agra. He was coughing and hacking the whole way and at one point Barb was compelled to ask if he had a cold and he smiled with his few betel stained teeth said “oh no, I smoking”. We were relieved…. The Taj was of course magnificent…what can I say. The next day we saw the massive, incredible Amber Fort in Jaipur and then Aaron took the train back to Delhi to meet Jade and Barb and I moved on.
Next stop... Bikaner. This is a dusty dessert town (kind of in the boonies) with a superb fort and in the old days an important stop for the camel caravans. We were lucky enough to be there when the temperature hit 48! On the way we stopped at Karni Mata otherwise known as “THE HOLY RAT TEMPLE”. Legend has it that Karni Mata asked Yama, the god of death to restore to life the son of a grieving storyteller. Yama said “no” so Karni reincarnated all dead storytellers as rats depriving Yama of human souls. Every one of the 5 thousand people in the village expects to be reincarnated as a rat. Ugh!! We did the usual taking our shoes off and I swear I now have 2nd degree burns on my feet as once again Barb and I are running (gracefully) over the hot, hot, hot cement, this time with our OWN head scarves on. (Barb didn’t have her tablecloth with her today...) When we get to the shrine we are horrified to realize that there are thousands and thousands of rats living there. There can be up to 4 thousand little varmints and believe me this is not a big temple. They are everywhere…….scurrying along the floors, railings, walls and crawling all over people. There were dead ones shoved into piles and some lying around dying. Masses of rat crap all over… Yuck! We weren’t doing Canada proud as the whole time we were screeching and flinching and jumping around. Finally this young man took my hand told me to “no lift feet” so I don’t step on them and then while I had a vice grip on his arm he proceeded to literally drag me through the temple. Finally we hotfooted (literally) it back to get our shoes and got away from that creepy place.
$15.00 for an ayurvedic massage and it was kind of a riot. The “massage room” was a regular hotel room with twin beds. They whip the top mattress off and lay a plastic sheet on the box spring part. Two women “therapists” were waiting and as soon as I got there they said, “take off all your clothes”. (Always a comfortable feeling for me, taking my clothes off in the middle of a room in front of strangers.) The temperature in the room was at least 35 degrees and if I wasn’t quite hot enough the hot oil that they pour on you for the treatment did the trick. I told my girl that I had a sore shoulder and she smiled and said yes yes where you from? Okay… Off to Jalsimer, I wonder what’s next!
Thank you for sharing your travels with us, Patricia!
For those of you new to the site, welcome!
Here is where you can find more of Patricia’s traveling guest posts:
Senegal Part I
Senegal Part II
Senegal Part III – Mini Adventure
South of France
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Have a wonderful weekend!