Friday, March 25, 2011

Into the foothills of the himilayas

Morning after boarding the train.   Riding one of their late trains.   They're all late.   Got to station at 8pm. Train was to arrive at 9.  We finally pulled out around 12:30am.   We were all very tired at that point.   Kind of the center of attraction.   One kid started taking photos with his camera of each and every one of the women.   I shooed him away.   He kept coming back.   Rats and roaches big enough to roast for a family of four.   

Austin and Sabrina are in second class sleeper.  Rest of us in 1st class.   Not enough tickets left as the group expanded during planning.  They like the adventure.   All the kids are absorbing like sponges.  

Slept through dawn.   Rose Ann and Amelia and Caroline in the bunks asleep.  India passing by. Looks like Kansas except the land is divided by random dikes.   Think it's for rice to grow after the monsoons start.

We boated on the ganges to watch funeral pyres.   Our guide gave us a running commentary of the ceremonies as they proceeded.  Very moving.  They had 6-8 funeral pyres going simultaneously.  I didn't know they cut out parts of the bodies and threw them in the river as part of the thing.  Hip for women and I couldn't tell what it was for a man.  It was very beautiful and somber.  

We darted through the narrow allys of varinasi.  Too skinny to put a motorcycle through yet they did.  Tiny shops everywhere.   Met with a Baba.  (as in the big Baba G).   Our guide Harmit cut a deal with him to tell fortunes the next morning.  It was to be after a dawn boat ride on the Ganges.  Austin,Sabrina,Audrey,Johanna,Elizabeth,jackie went.   Dawn was exceptional.  I saw pictures of it.   JoAnne came down with Delhi belly.  Late morning we headed to sarna.  This is the birthplace of buddism.  Budda gave his first sermon here.  I don't know who came up with this Archaeologist guide that took us through but he was impeccable and his presentation and depth of knowledge was impressive.  Joanne slept through the whole thing.  Audrey now has bigtime upset stomach.  Think it was the chai tea with the baba.  
We're taking a train back to Delhi to take a train to palampur.  800 km first leg.  I don't know how far the second.  Should be there tomorrow.   I think the village thing is tomorrow night.  

We've been trying to buy an extra bag for purchases and sunglasses for Rose Ann.  Can't seem to get it done.  Hopefully in Delhi.  We had stayed at a very nice hotel.  Kept the bags there and went back to ready for departure.   Your personal space expands as you go through the guarded gate.  They check for bombs under your car and x ray your luggage. Metal detector and you are in.  Quiet, peaceful acreage in a cesspool of humanity.  Rose Ann and I walked the street looking for the sunglasses and bag.  We had an hour.  We were back in 15 minutes.   Sensory overload.  couldn't take the crowd and traffic.  Dark, and a massive amount of pedestrians. 

We've been talking and don't think there's any way to describe fully this experience.  Imagery and smells waft by and we will retain only bits of it.   The food has been all over the board.  Clean in western terms is pretty non existent.  We settle for clean in India terms.  Harmit has taken us to a wide range of edibles.  My favorite was a Taj (brand) Hotel for lunch.  Catering to western needs.  I just craved a salad.   Can't do that on the street.  

Typing on an iPad is hunt and peck.  No key feel and writing any volume is tedious.  Only way to really work though.  Ipad2 is great for photos.  All cameras have been downloading to the iPad daily and we review them.  Kids are voluminous with the shots.  The different perspectives from all the photos are great.  Carolines camera has shot craps.  Screen is toast.  She's trading with me off and on.   She's our resident cow,rat,dog photographer.  

Train was late by hours.  Got back to delhi in time to have lunch/dinner and rode the train all night to chakki banks.  Then drove another 3 hours into the foothills of the himalayas.  Fantastic hotel with Tibetan architecture.  Saw Dali lama's house and monastery.   Almost like an alpine village.   Shops all around.   Kind of like trying to shop in Aspen.   Snooty vendors selling wares at inflated prices. They're very very experienced with tourists.   After saying that we reassess in relative terms exactly how much in dollars we were bargaining for.   Came back in peaceful surroundings of the hotel.   We crave ice.   Can't drink it because of Delhi belly.    

I was wrong.   We actually drive tomorrow to see the village in the mountains.  Palampur.    We're going to hike into the village.  I'm not sure if that's by choice or not.   I'm excited about this.  

Found out the couple who hosted our chai tea during the crazy drive to Jaipur were royalty.   They own over 200,000 acres and are doing quite well.   Lovely people.  

We're all starting to miss home.   Heading to bed for an early drive tomorrow.   

Sent from my iPad


  1. I have heard India described many times as "sensory overload."

  2. I think that you guys have done a wonderfull job keeping us all poated.

    From Alexandra Hartge

  3. Just so you all know that your grbils are in great shape. I can not whignt to see you all and see all the pics that you guys took.I am so jelus of you that you are in India.