My Fantastic Voyage

India- up close and personal

Langurs and tigers and crocs, oh my!!

Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

On Sunday, 23 May 2010, I experienced an Indian safari. After a long and rough ride, we approached what appeared to be a palace on our left. To my complete delight that was our destination. We were able to cool off with a wonderful swim, followed by lunch and then a slide show about the park. Finally we were loaded into the jeep and on our way. Now, I have to say that we are actually experiencing a heat wave in Jaipur this week. Temperatures have been about 10 -15 degrees higher than the average. 120 is rather astounding to feel, but then added to it is the intense desert wind which is heated by the sand as it blows. Riding in the jeep was unlike anything I have experienced. Usually, even when it is very hot, wind will help to cool you down or at the least, dry your sweat. Not here. Not at all. It intensified the heat incredibly. With that aside, I had such a wonderful time. We passed through an ancient fort and it was like being transported back in time. We drove for a bit and then began to see spotted deer, langurs, and summer deer. Soon after we were mesmerized by the colors of many peacocks. The blue bulls were very odd with their horse-like bodies and cow-like heads. At a large watering hole we encountered antelope and turtles. It was such an amazing time. Of course, my hope was to see a tiger. The chances were only 50/50, but I hoped. After a few hours driving and seeing many animals, we took a break by a very large watering hole. I saw a crocodile in a small bit of water and then was treated to a mating dance of a peacock! The guide decided to try for just a bit more and we set off. No sooner than we turned around did I hear the magic words, “There’s a tiger!” I looked and there she was, all sleek and beautiful and arrogant. Her orange on black unmistakable as she looked our way before turning and slinking off. Ah…one last glance back at us and she was gone. That glimpse was more than satisfactory to me. It topped off a tremendously delightful day.

I am in India

traffic in India

I am in India.
Experiencing the organized chaos known as traffic in India, I am astounded. The cacophony of blaring horns, used as indicators of myriad vehicles passing, is the sound accompanying the feast for my eyes and the test of nerves set upon me. People walking; people pushing water trollies, food trollies, and wheelbarrows of a sort; riding bicycles, motor scooters, motorcycles and bicycle rickshaws; auto rickshaws called tutus, cabs, cars, small SUVs, tractors, trucks; camels, horses, donkeys, elephants, monkeys, and of course the sacred cows, all do a daring sort of dance across the roads without blinking an eye. The art of weaving in and out and in again, slowing, swerving, and speeding up, all within centimeters of others is a feat that defies my comprehension. The ease of mind lasts but a split second once departing from the bus as the departure lands me in the above-mentioned craze, but without the barrier and relative safety of the bus. As the acrid fumes and heat assault, I find myself quickly across the street and going through the gate of entrance to the Lotus Temple. This is a Baha’i House of Worship which embraces all religions and all beliefs. As I am walking towards the temple and taking in the beauty of the structure, the grounds, and the variety of people wandering, an Indian woman is walking towards me. She is wearing the beautiful and traditional saree, and is removing it from her face and head. As the brilliant ruby, saffron and gold recedes, an incredibly welcoming smile is revealed. She comes within inches of me and reaches out her hand, on which her palm has a larger crimson smudge than that on her forehead. She enraptures me and is apparently enraptured by me as well. Her bronze skin with deep wrinkles, her eyes that smile brightly, the strength in her grasp, along with her radiant smile tells me a bit of her story. It is a story that I will take with me and savor.
I am in India.

The Lotus Temple