Reflections on a Holiday

As one person said of my blog, it's a bit weird, what with you thinking you're still in India. It's been a long time now, that we've been back, and I've had a lot of time to reflect on the experience. Writing the blog has served it's purpose though; since I've been back, I've marked exams, taught two modules, run a meeting and submitted a paper. The holiday seems a long time ago, but the notes I took for the blog has helped me to remember the experience; for this reason, even though I wrote most of these reflections while travelling, I've decided to write these from the present, as opposed to the past present tense all the other posts have used. I've also noticed that my page view stats have plummeted to the point that they are flat-lining around 1 a day (which is probably google). Perhaps…

Agra (11/01/10)

We started off today at the Amber fort in Jaipur. For some reason, the hawking here seems particularly heavy, a theme that was to continue. The Amber fort, though, is magnificent --- it's a labyrinth of connecting rooms, built through the walls of several connecting courtyards. Strange for me, the most interesting bit was the latrines (historical, not modern day, I hasten to add) and the water system. They had underground storage facilities, a system for elevating the water. In general, though I had a great time wandering through the rooms, finding new places. After that we drove to a Agra Fort; we were short of time, but we managed to see much of it --- the rooms were strange, over built over several levels. Finally, we saw the mosque at the back with relentless hawking, including demands…

Delhi (12/01/10)

Outside the Hotel le Roi is a messy street, but inside it's nice. The drive here was hectic and smelly, with many miles of crawling through traffic. Not nice at all. We had another near accident when a lorry in the lane next to us lost a tyre and the car was hit with large chunks of Rubber. We came from the Taj Mahal. It's been described in detail by many others; the sunlight scintillates of the marble facade, leaving you speechless; but, not if it's foggy. Despite this, it is a magnificent building and visiting it is well worth while. I guess nothing can quite live up to is reputation once it becomes a world icon. Just had to phone reception. The room heating controls don't work, with the room getting colder and colder, so they have bought up a fan heater. And that's it; tomorrow, we go t…

Jaipur (10/01/10 pm)

As a city Jaipur is like many that we have been too --- busy, polluted and unattractive, and also very in-your-face; yes, thank you, I am sure that are many elephants, but I still don't want your tuk-tuk. We did see the Jantar Mantar observatory. This is a magnificent place, full of angles and careful measurements --- Jai Singh thought that bigger was better. Each instrument had a careful description, telling you what it measured and what this measurement was for; although the signs kept of mixing up "accuracy" and "resolution" which bugged me a bit. The thing that confused me was that most of the instruments fall into two categories; those for measuring angles and sundials for measuring time. Time and space all sorted, it seems, but time only measurable during the day …

Jaipur (10/01/10)

The bus journey wasn't that bad as it happened. The environmental conditions inside were okay; the heat disappeared pretty quickly; the temperature was nice till sundown, then I put more and more clothes on until I ran out. My feet got cold, but the rest of me was okay. The motion was a bit wierd and rolling, but in general I like travelling overnight and with horizontal. If there was some kind of night bus in the UK, I think that I'd take it pretty often; obviously I'd prefer something that wasn't packed to the rafters and has some basic safety standards. Oh, and a toilet.

Jaislmer to Jaipur (09/01/10pm)

The Aussies were made; the bus is squalid. There are seats and bunks. The posh option is a upper bunk over the seats, with sliding windows on both sides. The opposite side is a single bunk which is open. The seats are if you are really poor. The temperature inside the bus is rising from hot to, well, hotter. I have no idea what this must be like when we are not in the middle of a cold spell. Turns out the seats are not if you are really poor; this is standing up. The bus is now heaving full of people on two different levels. Combined with the general madness that I've seen on the road, I would be nervous if there was anything at all I could do about it. People don't moan about health and safety in India; there isn't any to moan about. Oh and it's not non-smoking. The group of Americans opp…

Jaisalmer (07/01/10 pm)

The town of Jaisalmer is nice, with lots of great, intricate architecture; the lattice work is everywhere. The rest of the fort is actually a bazaar --- to some extent, once you have seen one, you have seen them all. There are some Jain temples, though, which are impressive from the outside, although shut by the time we got there. We eat food in the unpromising named "Shanti" restaurant, drawn in by the far more promising odour. It's combination Nepali and India food, on the edge of the fort, with a view out over the desert. Best food so far by a long, long way.

Jaisalmer (07/01/10)

Overnight from Jodphur was actually okay --- the train was a bit of a tight fit, but fine. We arrived at the hotel just before 6am and kipped on the roof till breakfast. We are staying in the shadow of the fort. We should get a room and see what the day holds. Still no reservations but apparently if they don't come through, we can still travel, but with no sleep; better than nothing. From the distance, an incredible noise shakes the town; it turns out to be a military jet.

Jodphur 06/01/10 (am)

Food last night filled a whole but was otherwise disappointing. This morning, I awoke to a cacophony; constant chanting from a nearby Hindu temple competing at sun break with the Muezzins' call to prayer, as well as the ever present horn blowing and engine noise. We are on the rooftop in a ramshackle building under a large crag with a fort on top. The crag is peppered with basking monkeys and topped by circling birds. The air is cool, clear and sweet smelling. I expect all of this will change.

Jodphur (06/01/10 pm)

Today, visited the Mehrangarh fort in Jodphur. It's a wonderful place, excellent restored and with quality audio guide and signs. Apparently, when they started to restore it in 1972 one source of income was from selling the bat guano that have accumulated, which is an unusual start to a museum. Finished off the tour with an excellent veggie thali that went down very well. Then moved onto a lightening tour of the outside of the palace --- the tuk-tuk man expected to clean up on the return journey, but we already knew it would be shut by the time we got there. It was good, though, from the outside, and lovely at sunset. The tuk-tuk man on the way back tried to take us for 150 rupees back to the hotel; in the end we settled on 60 to the clock tower (5 minutes away). Now in the train station w…