FIRST IMPRESSIONS AFTER TWO YEARS AWAY

September 30, 2015

BLOG 2015 #2 September 30

FIRST IMPRESSIONS AFTER TWO YEARS AWAY

FIRST SUNRISE

FIRST SUNRISE

Insight about when to fly in to Delhi for best travel options.  Arrived with Turkish Airlines at 4:30 AM…ON A SUNDAY MORNING. Flying out of Israel was the easiest yet since it was Shabbat, and the airport was fairly empty.  Check-in was an all time record at only 10 minutes start to finish!  Also, Delhi airport was almost empty so no long lines to wait on and I was out of the airport, including getting my luggage, in less than half an hour

And then driving at that hour, on a Sunday morning, through Delhi, was child’s play…no traffic, no noise….and this continued for the first 2/3 of the journey.  The first 150 km., all on the new Highway, took just under 2 hours!  The last 100 km, through towns and with morning activity already beginning, even though Sunday, took 3 hours.  But still a very reasonable ride. Most of the way we drove at the unheard of speed of 80 kph on the new road which is fabulous. There were times when the speedometer hit 90 and even 100!

NOTE THE SPEED ON THE SPEEDOMETER

NOTE THE SPEED ON THE SPEEDOMETER

By 7:30 I was already sitting down to a breakfast of Aloo Parantha and Masala at Grand Cheetal rest stop.

CHEETAL BREAKFAST

Two Road signs along the way:

SAY NO TO PLASTIC BAGS.  PLASTIC IS NOT TRENDY

CELLULAR O WHEEL WILL BE COSTLY DEAL

….and indeed…you can now ad texting while driving to the already existing hazards of India roads.

SEE VIDEO IN LINK BELOW

TAXI RIDE DELHI TO RISHIKESH

India itself has stayed the same in many ways, and continues to change and grow as well at amazing speed.  WIFI access for example, which only two years began to find its way into restaurants etc., and was very “iffy”, is now almost everywhere, and WORKS beautifully! The prevalence of Western mode of dress, particularly among younger girls and women, is extensive although in the towns along the way, I saw none of it.  But here, in Rishikesh, where there are lots more Indian tourists, not pilgrims, just tourists, all are dressed in Western clothing.  It has become a very popular “get away” for the younger Delhi crowd, as well as families, and I’ve been told that for most of the year, there is actually more income from Indians these days than from Westerners, who have become unreliable as a main source, and also pay much less money for the same services and accommodations than Indians do.

But mainly these are cosmetic changes…new restaurants and guesthouses everywhere I look (and I’ve been out and about very little these first few days as it is very hot…unseasonably so), fancier cars, clothing shops etc., but the essence, the soul of Indian, remains the same.  It is something which never seems to change and it is what brings me here time and again.  I will be writing more about this as the time goes by.

Enough for this first post….next one will quickly sum up my first few days

Namaste

With love light and JOY

Jane


Observations from India

September 21, 2014

This was originally a part of a longer post published years ago and came across it recently.  So I’ve decided to share it once again.
Observations:

wpid-img_54093814366319.jpeg

Just a quick note: I’ve been watching in many places as roads and even houses are built and can’t help be amazed at the processes. Rocks are brought up from the river bed by donkey …dumped in one place near the closet existing road, and then sari dressed women, some  with babies tied to their banks or toddlers following them, carry them on their heads and dump them closer to the actual work site

wpid-img_1303.jpg

…and then they are hit with sledgehammers in such a way as to create one side which is completely flat. These are then place one next to the other with the flat side facing out to build retaining walls…or the foundation for a road – the spaces between them are then filled with cement and layer upon layer is built in this way. The cement is mixed by hand, with no seeming consistent way of doing it…water is added (and sometimes gravel – which is also made by hand by men, or women, sitting all day and pounding stones into gravel) until the cement “feels” right – like you might mix bread dough.

Mixing Cement

Mixing Cement

I’ve seen branches cut from trees and trimmed of bark with sickles being used with string as surveying instruments, and I’ve even seen a place where optic cables are being laid, but the labor is still done with pickaxes, shovels, hand ploughs etc., and the debris carried away in trays on the heads of sari dressed women.

Foundation Wall of New House-Note Rocks used as Raw Material

This is all part of what India is, and although I really haven’t written much this trip, I’ve been reading over some of my older journals, and realize that much of what I found worth writing about in the past, I simply take for granted now

Retaining Wall...Note Rocks used as Raw Material

Retaining Wall

….Nothing seems as strange as it once did, or even noteworthy…it is just the way things are here and accepted as normal.

Namaste

Jane


Latest News in Cycle Rickshaws

October 23, 2012

I Just Had to Share This

India: Moving Forward While Standing Still

From an article in yesterday’s newspaper.

 

Namaste from Amazing India


Back in Rishikesh 2012 Part 2

October 14, 2012

Back in Rishikesh 2012 Part 2

View from Guesthouse at Dusk

I write this as I sit outside in the morning sun which warms my bones after the chill of the evening, night and early morning.  The sun is not too hot to be uncomfortable or prevent hours of happily walking around.  And it’s heat is felt truly for only about 3 hours a day.  It is a beautiful time of the year to be here…before the need for warm clothing, uncomfortable layers etc., of the winter weeks, and without the scorching, debilitating heat of the hotter months.  And of course without the rains of the monsoon.

Everything is still very green and lush and walking around is just complete pleasure.

At night and early morning it is already fairly cold with the strong winds which are so typical of Rishikesh…but of course, the sun rises just over the mountain , (now at 7:20 but it is getting a little later each day), through the window which faces my bed and gently pulls me awake (if I happen to still be asleep), with it’s shining kiss.

And then I sit in it’s warm embrace as I do my morning prayers and meditaion. Could there be any better way to begin a day?

There are of course changes, as there always are in India, and yet things continue to feel like ‘time stands still” in most things.  The first shocking change was a wall which was put up on one side of “my” rooftop by the neighboring hotel, which completely blocks one of my views…very disconcerting but doing my best to come to terms with it.  If you can’t change something, learn to accept it and change your perception of it!

And all the local places are now setting up WiFi which is lovely, but still not truly working well yet.  Perhaps by next year.

And then of course more new rooms, more new guesthouses and a lovely surprise.  My friends who run the wonderful Pundir Provision Shop

Pundir Shop Tapovan Rishikesh , have now opened a restaurant upstairs.  We have eaten their twice and the food was superb!  AND, it is air-conditioned!!!  It was actually so cold we had to ask them to turn it off!  J

But of course tomorrow I am starting Panchakarma, so no more of the lovely food I’ve been eating up until now.  I had my full of yummy stuff over the past few days…am sure I gained at least a kg., and will now be able to settle into my very boring and limited diet for the next month.

And of course hearing the lovely news from my friend Devi that her sister is getting married!  Just wonderful.  This is a family of 5 daughters, the father has not worked in 15 years.  The oldest daughter was already married but the others were sure they would never marry because they would never have enough money for a dowry.  This sister has found an arranged match with a wonderful man who wanted a very limited dowry, just for appearance sake, and everyone is extremely happy as you can imagine.  The bad part is, the wedding is 2 days AFTER I leave.  If I had know, I would have flown in a couple of days later.  I cannot extend for even one day due to problems with my government pension…really sad.  However, the owner of the guesthouse has already invited me to TWO weddings of his niece and nephew, and so once again I will get to go to the production that is called “India Wedding”.  Should be fun.
Indian Wedding

Walking through the streets here is like coming home.  So many friends to see, from local shop keepers, to beggars and rickshaw drivers.  And of course my dear local friends and their families, who I will see often and visit over the weeks to come.

And then, to my great surprise, I am being recognized as a “celebrity” in the area and didn’t understand why.  Seems the guesthouse has finally put up a website, and they used MY photo (from several years ago-don’t know where they got it) as part of the cover photots of the website.  So when I walked around the first day I was hear in my red “suit”, the same one I am wearing in the photo, people were pointing at me until someone finally showed me what was going on.  It is soooooo  funny.   Here is a link and if you check out the dots under the cover photo, you will come to one of me.  You can see me in my red suit on the rooftop and the room behind me to the left is my home here in Rishikesh.  http://newbhandariswisscottage.com

And that’s about if for today.  Hope begin getting out and about and getting back to my camera over the next few days.

View from Guesthouse at Dusk

Namaste

Jane


Back in Rishikesh October 9-13 2012 Part 1

October 13, 2012

Sunrise over India

Well, I’ve been here now for just three days but it seems like I’ve been here for a couple of weeks at least.  I am now sitting in my room with Tata Photon+ mobile broadband service stick which my friend is lending to me whenever I want it so that I can use internet in my room.  The wifi services here are not working well enough for me to take advantage of them in my room, so this is a real blessing from him to me.  I am listening to lovely Israeli folkdancing music (which I love), and eating Besan Ladoo…which I also love!!  Heaven on earth.

I honestly haven’t felt like writing since I arrived, but have many things written in bits and pieces in my notebook….hope to eventually get them all up here.  And to my great surprise,  I haven’t taken (hardly) any photos either. But I won’t force anything to “happen”.  Just flowing with things as they go.

Sunrise over India from the taxi window

I arrived in Delhi on Wednesday morning at 4:30, with my friend M.  We were picked up by a taxi which I had ordered previously and began our journey to Rishikesh.  And to my great surprise, it took a long time for me to feel like I was actually in India!  Everything has changed so much over the past year and 8 months.  It took hours before my friend had her first traumatic meeting with Indian culture shock.  She was beginning to become complacent, maybe even bored, but India being India…it will finally find its way to you in all of its glorious, and not so glorious ways!!

what a unique idea!

At the airport there was no initial assault on the senses as there used to be.  We could have been in any lovely airport in any country in the world.  The new terminal has nothing to give you the feeling that you are truly back in India.  My friend was pleasantly surprised, and happy, but I was actually disappointed.  .  Pleased of course that progress is moving things forward, India as always moves ahead while standing still….But I wanted desperately to “feel” India on a gut level, in my soul!

We were taken to our taxi, and to my total astonishment, there was AC working!!   And it worked most of the journey to Rishikesh!  Quite unbelievable.  Not only is it obviously more comfortable during a hot drive, but it keeps all of the dirt and dust out of the car!

I was already told that the new highway is open and running between Delhi and Rishikesh, but had no idea what to expect.  Well, the first 150 KM of the 250 KM journey took under 2 hours, Then we stopped for breakfast and toilet and lovely Cheetal Resort.  When we got back in the car, the driver explained that the highway only continues for another 10 KM and then we are back on the old road for the last 90 KM of the trip to Rishikesh.

So, finally, we would “feel” India!!  The highway is approached through a bypass road from the airport, so we didn’t even get to ride through Old Delhi or New Delhi on our way out of the city.  And all of the hussle-bussle was truly missed by me.

Once off the main highway however India finally “hit” with full force.  I was ecstatic, my friend traumatized.    We were back to the horror and magic that is travel on Indian roads.  (You might remember the previous post- Rules of the Road).

The last 90 KM took well over 3 hours of nerve-wracking driving, noise, smells, near death passes, a cacophony of humanity coming to life in the morning hours.  Just wonderful! But my poor friend!  I think you NEVER forget your first drive on Indian roads.  Just like you never forget childbirth (!).  It finds a place of honor in your soul and stays there forever, but hidden enough to allow you to venture onto the roads again for travel in the future!!

I am going to end this post here so that I can finish it up and post it.  And hope to continue either tomorrow or later today with one more catch up post about our first two days here. They have been a blur of sensory, culinary and physical stimulation…exploring, showing my friend the local sights and also how to find her own way around, eating wonderful food, enjoying the perfect weather, see all my wonderful friends again and just feeling peaceful and tranquil and back home after much too long.

Namaste

Jane


Faces of India Part 5 – People at Work-What is Your Job?

August 30, 2012

People at Work in India

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Hope you will enjoy the following photos.  Many of these jobs are found all over the world, but might look a little different or be done a little differently  in India, and some of these jobs are found ONLY in India.  🙂

bicycle rickshaw- Sooooo Indian

Only in India! -change maker for beggars

main ghat veg market varanassi-everything so fresh and beautiful to look at

tailor

Tailor

sugar cookie vendor-found on the streets in the afternoon in time for Tea-the cookies are yummy!

Making a Sweet Drink from Raw Sugar Cane-Very often Long lines at these vendors

snake charmer

snack vendors-so colorful

snack vendor

Sari Merchant – It is Always Men selling these-as well as fabric in the following photo

Fabric Shop – Most women’s clothes are still made to order and one of a kind in India-although ready made and chain stores are beginning to make inroads with the spread of Malls

PLUMBER-let me figure this one out

electrician at work using Indian ingenuity for problem solving on the job

main ghat veg market-varanassi-everything so fresh and beautiful to look at

Cooking my morning porridge at local restaurant

Chai Walla

fruit stand

Fruit Vendor

Provision Shop

yoga instructor


Changing India-Impressions from a Delhi Mall

April 4, 2011

Impressions from a Delhi Mall

I visited a friend in Delhi and she decided our first stop on our day out in town would be a local mega mall, which had just opened up a new section which even she hadn’t seen.  She is a shopaholic and her greatest pleasure is “shop until you drop”.

The Mall was everything a Mall should be and more, and this was, I was told, the SMALLEST of the malls in Delhi.

I expected it to be empty but it was full of people shopping, eating etc. You can see some photos on the facebook link as well.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281708&id=547896544&l=d212f45e57

The only thing which would make you realize you are in India are the products being sold in the department store.  In addition to the regular western clothing and housewares, there are local items to be found as well. I love the photo of the jeans and saris on racks right next to each other, which is a true testament to the changing India!

Jeans and Saris - India -the New and the Old Existing Side by Side

and of course the buckets which are still used for bathing in many homes.

and of course the local dress still worn by a majority of women.

or the incense sold in the supermarket on a shelf called “pooja needs” (items for religious ceremonies)

To give credit where credit is due, environmental awareness is high in India, and the supermarkets no longer use ANY plastic bags.  Goods are packed into locally sewn cloth bags which can be reused, and they are free!

We walked around until I was ready to drop- literally, and than had lunch in a lovely franchise place called Chilies (I think) and the food was delicious, but expensive for India – and yet the place was FULL of people taking a food break while out shopping.

The toilets were also modern and beautiful as befits a fancy mall

– but note that even though the toilets are western style, a hose for washing instead of using toilet paper is still provided in the stalls!

or the women carrying their purchases on their heads!

–remember more photos available at facebook LINK

Namaste

Jane


March 15-17- Journey Home via Delhi

April 3, 2011

March 15-17- Journey Home via Delhi

Driving from rishikesh to delhi by taxi, for the first time in the day time.  In March….

It is hot, the windows are open (no AC), it is dusty, I am dirty, I am sweaty, and the trip despite the new “super highway”, (every type of vehicle known in India can be found on this road and you can see them on the facebook LINK: Aside from the poor condition of most of the roads, these vehicles are probably the main reason why a 250 km journey takes AT LEAST 5 hours and can be as long as 7.  If you hit top speed, about 80 kph, you might travel like that for 5 minutes at a time.  Average speed is between 40-60 kph for most of the journey

vehicles on super highway

is interminable – I am tired.  We just stopped at cheetal (more later or in another post),

Cheetal Rest Stop

but for the first time since arriving in India, I FEEL like I am in India…

I left Rishikesh this morning after saying a sad goodbye to my dear friends here,

Me with Seema and Ashish

but God willing, we will see each other again next year. And then, into a taxi for the journey to another friend’s house in Delhi.

Actually, I am sitting in the taxi trying to make the time pass, and I am connected to the Internet with my netstik!  This is really cool!!   On the one hand, at night, I doze on and off and the time goes by.  On the other hand, traveling during the day, despite it being more difficult, lets me see sights I would not see while traveling at night. As usual, you can see all the photos on the facebook link:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d
(there will be several different photo links in this post, so check them all out if you feel like it!)

We finally made it to Delhi, and then the driver, despite speaking to my friend on the phone several times, still spent 1 ½ hours being lost!

By the time I got where I had to be, I was beyond tired, hot and dirty!  But arriving here, was like being given an injection of “new life”.

I absolutely cannot describe to you what my friend calls her “farm house”.  It is an enormous estate owned by a billionaire Dutch business family, and it is well beyond anything I could ever imagine. . Twenty two gardeners are needed on a daily basis just to take care of the grounds! I have taken some photos, but know that this will also not give justice to this paradise located in South Delhi, in an area called Dera Mandi.  It could be anywhere in the world, and would still be beyond anything I could describe.

Main House on Estate

Sunset over Estate

I was first given the grand tour of both the vegetable gardens, (see photos on Face book LINK:)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d

and then the estate,  and then went back to shower and “make myself human” again.  After that, I was given an early dinner (as my hosts did not eat until well after 9 PM and I really had to get to sleep.  I was served a wonderful, simple meal, all directly from the gardens, and am sure I will forget something, but it included first of all, a lovely vegetable salad of sliced veggies, some partially cooked to make them edible (like the potatoes), and others just fresh:  3 kinds of sweet peppers, beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, very tiny potatoes, sweet peas, tomatoes, and more which I don’t remember..;.should have taken a photo but I was too tired by then to care about anything but eating and going to sleep.

I was then served delicious palak paneer (spinach – from the garden and Indian homemade cheese), wonderful dahl full of fresh coriander and fenugreek and parsley, chapattis also made with fresh herbs in the dough and covered in homemade ghee, and a delicious veggie dish of cabbage and sweet peas gently cooked together in ghee.  Rice of course (curiously made in the microwave) …it was sublime.

I went to sleep shortly after and to my surprise slept a full 12 hours!  Luckily I have my earplugs, because if I didn’t, the horrible squawking sounds of the peacocks would have kept me awake all night I think! I guess their beauty ends with their colorful feathers…

Peacock on Estate's Tennis Court

Woke this morning to a warm day, and now sit waiting for my friend to finish work so we can go into delhi for the afternoon.

I was served a breakfast of papaya (from their own trees), fresh coconut milk and the thinnest, most amazing stuffed potato (aloo) parantha I have EVER been served anywhere.

I know this day out in delhi will be exhausting, but it will also be fun being in town with my local friend, rather than as a tourist.  And I will still have time to rest before my flight…I have to be at the airport at 3 in the morning so will be leaving here at 1:30 AM.

More later I guess.

It is now 10 days later, to my dismay, but finally have gotten back to this.  My arrival home precluded my doing anything as “trivial” as blogging, but I am hoping that I will remember everything I wanted to write about the day in Delhi and the trip home.

We left for the city in her SUV vehicle with driver, which was a great luxury as she didn’t have to worry about parking every time we stopped someplace, or she wanted me to look at something along the way. It was also air conditioned and truth be told, was TOO cold for me!!

She lives in South delhi and while driving into the city we past the CChatapurTemple which was amazingly beautiful but closed, so I could only see it from outside.

Chatapur Temple Delhi

Me and Hanuman from Outside the Closed Temple

Hanuman The Monkey God Chatapur Temple Delhi

Vedic Aymbol Chatapur Temple

She finally decided that my first stop, before she did her shopping, would be a local mega mall, which had just opened up a new section which even she hadn’t seen.  She is a shopaholic and her greatest pleasure is “shop until you drop”.  .  IT is really not my thing but I couldn’t disappoint her, gracious hostess that she was (I have one daughter who would LOVE to spend a day with her!!).

Sitting area inside Mall

The changes in India are felt even more so in the cities, and Delhi is THE city to see change.  The cars are one example. Up until a couple of years ago one saw old cars and many many Ambassador cars on the road.  Now you have to really search to find an Ambassador, and the road is full of every type of new car you can imagine…Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus,Honda Civic, BMW, Mercedes, Chevrolet, and assorted chauffered cars where the drivers hold umbrellas open for the madam so the sun won’t get on her face.  The streets are clean, the roads improved, but still congested and Indian “rules of the road” still apply!  The busses are all new, European models, low to the ground for easy access, digital signs proclaiming destinations, AC of course and quite lovely to see.  The bus stops are also clean and neat.  And then everywhere, you see the Metro running.  The stations, at least from my viewpoint below, look beautiful, with large parking lots full of cars.  I have not had the opportunity of riding the metro yet.

The Mall was everything a Mall should be and more, and this was, I was told, the SMALLEST of the malls in Delhi. Please see the next post which will be entirely about my impressions from the Mall. It is worth a separate post and gives further insights into the changing as well as traditional aspects of life in India. But for now you can see photos at this LINK:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281708&id=547896544&l=d212f45e57

We finished there, back to the driver and then my friend took care of her own business.  Some of it personal, some of it as estate manager (which is the reason she lives in her house on the estate!).  To purchase flowers for the main house, we went to the flower market which was beautiful, but many people forbade me from taking pictures of their wares – don’t know why, but THIS PHOTO will give you some idea of how beautiful it was.  You can again, see lots more on the facebook LINK

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281695&id=547896544&l=14d56f320d

View of Flower Market

Back home, again, dinner by myself which was uncomfortable, but necessary so I could sleep for a few hours before leaving for my flight.

Because of this rest, and good food, before flying home, my flight home was probably the easiest I’ve ever had and I really was blessed to be able to do it this way

The new departure lounge is everything a modern international airport should be, and more, but once again, I did not take photos.  If you want to see it, you will have to come to India!!

From the plane I saw my LAST SUNRISE over India for this trip….

Last Sunrise Over India from Plane

I’m going to end this here so that I can begin posting it in the hope that it will finally reach you.

I had thought to write about the Cheetal Rest Stop as well, with it’s amazing flowers which change with the seasons, but I will simply post the photos on facebook as well and let you see for yourself.

Cheetal Flower Photo Link – worth viewing:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281705&id=547896544&l=861eee8adc

Too bad this is now off the main highway, and not easy to reach.  Don’t think I will be making this stop in the future.  It adds a good ½ hour onto the travel time between delhi and rishikesh, and as beautiful as it may be, and as tasty as the food is, and as clean as the toilets are, when I am traveling that many hours, I would prefer not adding that extra time .

It has been a wonderful journey, and being home now, makes me appreciate it even more.  I am happy to be where I am now, but am grateful for the few months of personal time I was so lovingly given.  I am truly blessed!

Namaste

Jane


January 19, 2011 – Sun, Sweet Lassi and Indian Paradox -Impressions of a Changing India

January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011 – Sun, Sweet Lassi and Indian Paradox -Impressions of a Changing India

Just a quick post.  Woke to a lovely sunny morning and decided it was a good day to go into the market and do some errands…some things I needed to purchase and ship hope.  I usually wait until my last couple of weeks and am then hassled, and the weather is hot.  So decided to do it while it is still cool and I am in no hurry.  And as usual, what should be a quick trip to the shop became a full day’s work.  And I still have to return again to finish the transaction and get the parcel off in the mail. But that’s fine.  No hassle…typically Indian and I don’t mind it at all.  I know that it is possible to do just one thing a day here, and so technically life becomes very simple.

 

My Dinner Waiting to be Steamed While I Post This!

When I returned from the market, pleased that I had done the basic work of getting the stuff purchased and ready for the post office, I sat for awhile to talk to some friends in the next guesthouse and then returned to my room and didn’t feel like cooking.  I ordered room service and where, until today, there would be no question about my ordering chai to drink to warm me up, today, for the first time since I’ve been here (a whole month already), I actually ordered my first LASSI.  Delicious as always and it hit the spot, proving beyond a doubt that very slowly the weather is warming up.  Nothing drastic, but enough to be able to enjoy a cold lassi on the rooftop in the sun!

While purchasing the items to ship home, among them, two pressure cookers, I had to sit and wait for some time in the “pot shop” and the owner and I began chatting over chai.  I mentioned how I’ve noticed prices going up in India drastically from year to year.  Asked how people managed and he said that salaries are also rising.  When I asked however, about the poor, who don’t get salary hikes, he simply bobbled his head and said “what to do…too many poor people”.  And then went on to tell me how expensive his vacations have become.  He told me that it was just as cheap to go to Macao and Hong Kong as it was to vacation in India.  Didn’t understand how this could be possible, until he told me about his vacations in Chennai, Hyderabad and Goa.  The one in Goa for example, cost him, for him and his wife, for a 3 day vacation, 60,000 rupees!!  Yes, that’s right.  That is about $1500!!!  I don’t even remember the other prices her quoted to me, but they were equally astounding, at least for me.  He said he only stays at 5-7 star hotels (never heard of a 7 star hotel personally).  I said that I only stay at “0” star hotels and he laughed.  I commented that he must be selling an awful lot of pots to be able to do this and he bobbled his head, laughed and said…”yes, many pots for sure!!”

He then began to tell me about the wonderful malls springing up all over the country and when I mentioned that they seemed very expensive, he agreed but said that is because they sell only the best quality and of course it is OK to spend a lot of money for good quality.  He says his wife loves to go shopping at the malls and travels for hours to get to one and spend money.  Apparently, India is not far behind the rest of the world as far as consumerism is concerned.  I just find it so disconcerting when I look around and see all the poverty everywhere.  It is difficult for me to accept, but the average Indian doesn’t seem to think there is anything out of place, or paradoxical about it.  That’s just the way life is.  Some people are poor, and will always be poor, while others have been blessed with upward mobility and will climb as far and as fast as they can!

This would help explain all the new building going on even here in Tapovan Village…

 

New Private Flats Under Construction Replacing Open Fields in Tapovan

mostly flats, not guesthouses or hotels.  What you see in this picture, and others I posted a couple of days ago, was just a year ago open fields…now there is barely room to walk between the buildings! Seems many retired couples are purchasing  small one-bedroom flats in the “suburbs” and even some young couples are purchasing them as “first flats” before they move on to something better.

 

MY ROOFTOP THIS EVENING…WARM ENOUGH TO STILL BE OUT AT 5:30 IN THE EVENING!

That’s it for today….


January 17, 2011 – Puja Ceremony Before Moving into a New House

January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 – Puja Ceremony Before Moving into a New House

I was invited today as a special guest at this ceremony .  My friend, Laxmi, has been in the process of building a house for the past 2 years.  It has been an uphill struggle the entire time and only through the good will and assistance of many wonderful people (making sure she would not have to take any bank loans), she was finally able to finish building this house and arriving at this auspicious day chosen by a priest.

New House from the Front

This is a family that has been through very difficult times.  Her’s was a love marriage, highly advised against, and with terrible results.  Her husband turned out to be a drug addict and after two children, she finally left him.  She has been supporting the family as a massage lady at Dr. Arora’s clinic all these years and works very hard at what she does.  Her mother-in-law is a great help to her, living much of the time with her and her children.

Up until now they were living in a one room house where they all slept, ate, did homework, played etc.  No bathroom, a kitchen out in the yard…no running water.  They now have a two story house which must seem like a mansion to them.  Upstairs there are three rooms.  One for Laxmi,

Her OWN room. This is about the size of the room she used t live in all together with her children and mother-in-law

one for her children and mother-in-law

 

This room was used for the puja but it is actually the kids room as well as the mother-in-laws when she is there

and the third a living room.  Off the living room

 

Living Room

is one of THREE toilets/showers!! Remember, this is after living in a house with NO toilet or shower!

 

"Guest" toilet/shower

This, so that the room can be used for guests easily, or even rented out to earn money.  Downstairs is another large room and another toilet/shower built to be rented out. SEE THIS LINK FOR FULL ALBUM ON FACEBOOK

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=262923&id=547896544&l=45d9aeab3a

And upstairs is also a full kitchen and another family toilet/shower.

The house is very plain and simple but will be a wonderful new home for this lovely family.

Built in Indian fashion, sort of “figure it out as you go along” style, there are things that no westerner would put up with…just one example.  The shelves in the kitchen are so high that the only way to reach them (for EVERYTHING needed for working in the kitchen) is to climb up on the countertop!!

Kitchen shelves

standing on counter top to reach LOWEST kitchen shelf!

I imagine in time shelves will be added at a normal height but for now, Laxmi seems to feel the kitchen design is fine!

Anyway, I was at the puja (religious ceremony) to sanctify the house and guaranteed it would be blessed with all good things and it was an interesting morning for me.

I’ve taken photographs but due to the cramped quarters, not sure if you can get a real feel for the place…what you can see, is the definite cramping of the entire neighborhood with others also building homes, with no zoning laws or permits needed…just do whatever you want, wherever you want, as big as you want and as close to your neighbor as you feel like.  A shame, but people here just seem to regard it as a positive sign of development and upward mobility.

 

views of the neighborhood from the roof

 


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