From Dairy 2 we
now get serious far out .
18. After a quick breakfast, we head down to the river. Over a reasonably well maintained and narrow bridge, and out of the narrow road. Here are many exciting trees, but not much else. We crawl through the barbed wire fence and get down to the river. Here are a few cows with small calves, but they are just as friendly as any other Indian animal.
The views up, down and over the river are amazing. The water seems crystal clear and there is enough speed on the river to cause white foam to occur in the most turbulent places. The nature seems completely untouched, with the exception of the grazing cows, and some beautiful flowering shrubs, that stand along the river at regular intervals. Large granite cliffs, worn round by millennia wind and weather provide a stunning landscape, several eagles cross the blue sky over our heads, and little singers chirp in the bushes. We are in a turtle reserve, but unfortunately do not see any of the local swamp turtles in the river.
We cross the river again, waving to our widely smiling driver, bathing with the locals on a gath next to the bridge. On many of the great cliffs that rise up from the river are sacrifices. It is really great to see people living in such good harmony with nature.
Inside the town a bitch come walking with her little puppies. She continues unabashedly across the road, while the puppies flee from a clattering Rikke back where they came from. Up over the sidewalk, through the patio and into the back yard. Rikke takes it nicely, she is used to kids fleeing or starts crying, when she shows them attention.
We come to the other side of the small town,
where there are five temples. The Cenotaphs temples are
practically similar, the four are located within a wall-bound park,
and are completely similar. Here also vultures sit on the towers,
with spread wings, to capture the warmth of the morning sun.
We drive at noon, a good concept in this hot area. We pass some natural towers: The hard basalt column remains, but the cone-shaped, more porous ash pile around the volcano is weathered. We drive across a river whose banks are covered with palm trees. There is a bit of rain, but not enough to make the road completely wet. We pass a church, far out in the countryside in a fairly sparsely populated area. English building style and well-maintained it lies here alone in the nothingness.
The landscape is slowly changing to less tropical and more agricultural. Many places are ploughed with ancient plough, pulled by oxen. We suddenly reach an area with harvest, or rather the threshing. Whole dry plants of small black lentils are laid in a thick layer on the roadway, and the passing cars open the pods, as they drive over. Luckily, there is nothing called catalyst in this country, so it was all over!
Almost all trucks and tuc-tucs have a text on the tailgate: Blow horns, but they also have another text: Use dipper at night. Wondering about it, until we drive the first night. Here in the country, you do not have much light; you have high. Everyone runs with high light, and then you can lower it, if the oncoming insists. You can also flash it, if you want to overhaul. When there was a problem with AIDS among working women along the roads, a slogan for the truck drivers was to be found, so they remembered a condom. Dipper also means a condom, so it was very easy, and they all had it on the tailgate beforehand.
Late in the afternoon, we get to Khajuraho, which is known for its amazing temples, which are adorned with "everyday motifs". Our guidebook recommends a hotel with patio, which is a little hard to find. Our driver asks a couple of guys on the motorcycle. They say it is in a bad neighbourhood and in poor condition. Would have thought a little more of them, if they had not simultaneously taken photos of their hotel, and praised it. However, they end up driving ahead of us down to "our" hotel.
They were completely right. It is in a poor neighbourhood, something out of town. The "patio" is a cement terrace with a few semi-dead potted plants. Like the icing on the cake, we didn't meet anyone, even though we were going through the entire building.
We had promised them to look at their hotel, if we did not take the second one. They were right again; it is awesome! The Residential is at a large lotus lake, the hotel itself is 300 meters from the centre, and it is new. Meaning; they are constantly building when they can afford it. The owner is a real British guy, who seems very nice. We get rooms with clean sheets, out to the backyard.
We head into the city centre, where we are one of the only tourists in a city geared to around a thousand. The merchants are sweet, speak good English, but are just really hungry. The last three years have been really bad and we are at the end of the non-tourist season. They literally come the running out of their small shops, across the road, begging us for just a minute in their shop. The worst thing is that practically everything they sell looks really neat and costs nothing! We are maybe ten tourists in town right now, and there are stalls and restaurants for thousands.
We seek asylum on a roof terrace, overlooking the nearest temples. really sweet waiters, good food and still extremely reasonable prices. And to three of our company's great joys, they have beer! We sit and sip until it is getting dark. Then we head down to the lotus lake to watch the sunset. There is a wide gath down to it from the road. Built of recycled stones from other temples. All are carved, many with patterns and very nice figures. They are now just a flight of stairs and some figures turn their heads.
I take a look at the vegetation: Five different kinds of aquatic plants, reasonably clear water reveals several plants, but unfortunately, the lotus is almost blossomed. It is teeming with small fish, and there are some larger ones as well. In the low areas there are frogs, maybe oriental fire bellied frogs?
Rikke sits reading "The Jungle Book" on the edge of the street, and Jesper tries to keep all the small children at arm's length. They know how to get in touch with tourists and when they ask him where he comes from he answers the " the moon", but it is not enough for them to go. Finally, he is consider how deep the lake is and whether it is affordable to throw them out. Morten has taught me a really good trick: Speak Danish. It can scare away even the most persistent kids.
Locals come down and throw a handful of something to the fish, and say a little prayer. Then come two women who perform a larger ritual. Carved lotus leaves and stems set in elaborate floral decorations. Things get mixed up in brought casks and spread out over the water, much to the delight of the fish. They make prayers and then they put on something similar to a hat, with a candle on. It all seems really beautiful and harmonious.
I'm trying an internet cafe. It takes literally ten minutes to open the front page of TDC. As I try the second time, the power fails in the city, and then it can be just as much! Unsurprisingly, I find the others on the roof terrace, each one with a beer in their hands.
We try hard to get photos of a couple of big kneeling mantas, sitting in the plants surrounding the square. This is not entirely successful, mostly because Jesper has not brought his camera for completely inexplicable reasons. He looks almost completely crooked, without it.
As dusk and later darkness has fallen, enormous swarms of gray spruce have circled the trees of the square. Thousands of gray sparrows make "black sun", and smaller flocks of parakeets contribute to the massive visual, and not least, sound impression. As it has become quite dark, the lamps of the terrace attract countless small black beetles. They are no more than one and a half millimetres. but with several thousand, they may well be annoying. We turn off the nearest lamps and they pull over to the nearest tables.
19. After a hearty and varied breakfast meal - consisting of the usual four toasted breads with butter - we head over to the famous temples. They are located in a very well maintained park, with well-groomed lawns and beautiful flowering beds. The temples, of which there are several, lie on a plinth high, built of the beautifully carved stone of former temples.
The first temple we see, is built around a huge polished statue of a boar. Instead of fur, there are people. Here, like all other shrines, one must place one's footwear outside. It has used very dark sandstone for all the buildings and I am glad we are here early in the morning, else the ground would be real hot.
Then we get to the main temples themselves. There are five or six where the entire surface, both inside and out, is covered with statues that depict everyday situations. Elephants that fight, people who harvest, some who dance or kisses. Some who are in a 69, or groups helping each other to have sex in the wildest positions, and then some who would rather do it with a cow or a sheep.
The scenes are divided into strips that go around the building, where all figures have the same height. At the same time, there are larger figures in vertical columns. They are larger, and fairly similar from side to side, and from temple to temple. One of the common features is a large dragon and a young woman in the innermost corners. It just like standing up, she squats and looks up under her stomach at its ....
Where other temple areas have been marked by Muslim rulers and their strict laws, these have gone free: Everyone has heads. We have just seen all the motives, but take a walk in the park. Behind one of the temples is a small idyllic lake and further out, Rikke first looks, and after constant search; we other see the mongoose family. Some of the beds contain three meters high cacti, others beautiful flowering Balsamines.
We return to the square, where the merchants are hungry as goats in March. It scares us away more than it does trade, and our money goes to the more reluctant. Rikke finds some brightly coloured bags and a lot of fabric items that she doesn't buy. In one business, we look at bronze statues. In one corner, above the safe, we find some particularly beautiful statues. We all fall for a Ganesh, but after hearing the price, only Morten is interested. Usually a good trade is a two percent rebate, but Morten ends up with 75 percent. It is simply for the owner to get money in the box. We others would also have been interested in that price.
We reach back to our favourite restaurant, just get it started to rain heavily. We are getting a little delayed by the rain, but must reach the Tibetan shop. I see some bracelets made of dromedary bones and nicely patinated. Here are also some beautiful brass shelves and jars in coloured glass. We had an appointment with our driver an hour ago, and are rushing back and forth between the last few drops to the hotel.
We continue our journey east. We are far out in the countryside, it is the closest to medieval towns we pass, and they are even up to the main road. People walk on the roadside with big loads on their heads. Hay, fresh corn plants, buckets of water and large bundles of firewood. We stop in a slightly larger city, both to get a cup of coffee, but also to give the driver a break. He has sat with his head out of the window several times and his eyes have become suspiciously small. No wonder; we have driven far and it is a narrow and bad road.
The city we are in, has only one paved road, the one we are driving on. The main street itself is just dirt, and after the rain of the day, it is mud with big and in between pretty deep puddles. Morten and I walk down through it to see the shops and people who live here. There are very few in Western clothing. The stores are black holes, three metre wide, two high and two to five metre deep. There is not much electric, if any, but the tables in front of the shops contain some coloured plastic junk. Behind a very coloured booth, in which the wife sell suits, while the husband has a mini-workshop with open aces.
Despite the totally upturned and messy street, the women walk in very brightly coloured, ankle-length suits. Personally, I'm a little proud that I don't get mud on my short pants. I can't figure out, how women can walk here or work in the field in these suits, and they still look freshly washed. And then they only have a sink!
We're almost in the tropics, and here's some sugar cane. They are run through two rollers, and the very sweet juice is drunk as juice at stalls in the street. Refreshed we drive again. Darkness falls and toads and frogs begin to cross the road. The road is difficult to drive during the day and it becomes almost impossible at night. Pedestrians, cyclists and other motorized vehicles without lights on, on a nearly one-lane road, are no fun in the dark of the hills. The holes that are hard to avoid during the day, will be impossible to judge in the dark. It does not get any better, they are filled with water.
As we are about 130 kilometres from Allahabad, the driver informs us, that there is a slightly larger city six kilometres in to the right. We understand a hint of a wagon bar, and agree. We first try in hostels on the outskirts of Chitrahut, but they don't think they live up to our standard. Neither do they; no light or water. Finding the best hotel in town. There have never been tourists here, but it works. There are no alternatives either.
We get some reasonable rooms for 25 kroner
each. Here, like so many other places, the air-conditioning is just
a big box with a big fan and a small fountain. Noises completely
crazy, and does not cool nearly as much.
Everything has a price, and we have to drop four bucks each. At the checkout is a large cake display. They look really good and now I can't stand it any more. Buy one of each of the 10-12 cakes and try. Disappointing, it looks like pastry dry cakes, but they don't really taste like anything, the consistency is like wet coconut flour or wet toast bread. Well, you don't get the world for three bucks.
20. There are only 130 kilometres to the holy city of Allahabad, where three holy rivers meet: Ganges, Yamuna and then one that only the believers can see. I'm obviously not a believer. We had planned to spend all day here, starting with finding a hotel. We'll have to pick up a guide, he just can't find it either. His interest is, he is a boat man, and of course he expects to sail us out where the rivers meet, later. He has that conviction for an incredibly long time - he is almost impossible to shake off.
When we finally find the hotel, it's not exactly our dream, but the price is fine. What we say; until we fill three sets of papers each. Then suddenly it is per room and not for both. Spending an eternity on getting the first money back, and re-evaluating our stay in the city. Let's see if we need to sleep here.
It has rained last night, and it is still overcast. We decide to find some food, and then see if it clears up. The boat driver is still on tow, guiding us first to one end of the densely packed city, then to the other. He clearly needs to stick to the river! After dinner, he leads us down to the place where the rivers meet. In a light drizzle, Indian tourists and little traders stand in mud to their ankles by the shore. Countless boats sail around the cocoa-brown water. We look at it a bit as we fight our way between boaters and hustlers.
The other attraction of the city is a fort that we are standing below. One can only get inside, with the permission of the Ministry of Defence, and then "fort-hungry" we are not. Furthermore, we must not bring our cameras. We've seen what the city has to offer, and might as well head on to Varanasi. On the way, we meet some totally overloaded buses. Even the roof is completely full; people cling to the eaves, outside them!
We get to the historic city of Varanasi in the middle of the afternoon. The weather has improved significantly and the mood rises automatically. We have read that you cannot drive to our selected hotel, so we park in a square. A silk merchant leads us down narrow alleys and small squares to the banks of the Ganges.
We walk down the city's main gath, which is being cleaned after the monsoon's high water level. There are clear water and shed marks up to ten meters up from the houses that lie along the river. There are very few doors and windows on the bottom ten metres, and those that are, are filled with slimy mud.
We see our hotel: Vishnu Rest House, and are led up by a gath a little next door. We promise the good silk merchant that we will of course look past his shop, one of the next few days. In fact, we promise him every time we see him, and I have a bad conscience as we will never got see it. We actually look for him on the last day and then we can't find him.
We have decided to say goodbye to our driver and car here, and take trains or similar to Delhi. Since we do not drive back with him, we pay double tariff, and have to drop 1330 kroner for the 1125 kilometres and five days trip. He gets a good amount of tips, because he was cute!
The hotel is built around a temple where the owners of the hotel are pastors. A bell is ringed and blows in a big horn sometimes during day, and not at unreasonable times. Otherwise there is just a television you hear from inside. From the terrace you look directly down at the riverbank, where washcloths and men works hard. There are quite a few long and narrow rowing boats, and a rare one passes by. There can be one to four tourists or 25 locals in a boat. There are also some motorized boats that carry people and stuff over on the other side of the river. We see some single sailboats, they resemble falcons or Viking boats, with a primitive square sail.
We sit and enjoy the fresh breeze and the view, with a cup of coffee. Then the hunt goes into the Internet and ATM. We walk through such narrow alleys, many only a meter wide. There are many houses built together, and we are almost in a tunnel. The streets are paved, but incredibly smooth with the rain and a layer of dust and cow dung. It is almost impossible to keep balance. No major streets anywhere; we are in the old town, which is only accessible for mopeds and pedestrians. Very residential with small shops in between.
Finds the internet cafe, which is just down at the moment. We get a cup of coffee while we wait, but then the power turns off, and we head home. We have been advised not to go out after dark; an average of one tourist per month disappears. It's just gotten dark. Very dark! We are walking, but only our voices hold us together. One boy passes us with a flashlight, and I hang on, but the others do not enjoy his light, and I have to wait. If one opened a door and grab one of us out of the tightly closed line, we would not notes it. We cling to the walls so as not to fall into the mucus, and finally, many stairs and steps later, we are home. Our flashlights are here!
We sit in the light of the candles, enjoying the view of the Ganges, and the dimly lit sky. The countless swallows have been replaced by bats and a few night hawks. We get four times macaroni with mushrooms for dinner. Beer can be obtained from the city, and some believe the evening is saved. The power returns for a short period, but then it is dark for the next day. Trying to turn on the ceiling fan so that it starts when power comes on. The problem is just that: as in most rooms, there is a large switchboard with contacts - without marking. We get through the night, albeit sweaty.
21. There is still power failure, but fortunately; the kitchen is based on firewood or cowshit. Below us is a smaller army of washing women and men in action. It's more or less assembly line work. Some people sit and soap their clothes with soaps. Others beat it countless times against large flat stones, then it gets twisted and hung on long twisted ropes.
We walk up through the narrow alleys again. There is no water in the houses, but small taps at ground level outside most. It's not everyone's taps that work; some just have the water running, others a mute garden hose that is closed, stuck on. It is cloudy but about 20 degrees. The streets are still slimy, but not as bad.
We get to the newer part of town that is completely packed with people. In the vegetable market, a couple of very young puppies are tumbling around. Rikke does not release them until she discovers the amount of crawling creep they are infested with. The streets are filled with a homogeneous mix of horse-drawn carriages, cars, people, donkeys, bicycles, tuc-tucs, rickshaws, mopeds, small trucks, tow trucks, cows and motorcycles. You have to be very vigilant to avoid being hit.
After finding an internet cafe that had a fantastic fast connection, do we send Morten home to keep an eye on the toilet? We embark on the intense hunt for an ATM. Being led into a backyard where there is a money changer and maybe a closing bank? Since we are not interested, he is trying instead to sell and hashisis and maybe drugs.
Eventually we find a bank. Had figured they were more common in a large trade area, but no. A new suspicious backyard, a half-weathered staircase, and then we're in something like a bank. They just don't take plastic cards. We go out to the rickshaw guy they showed us over to it. Since the bank's instructions were not very useful, we have to try him. We squeeze into his carriage; Rikke in the middle, Jesper and I on each of their narrow armrests. Have agreed price, and yet become more and more uneasy, as we continue in infinity through the city. Scout for an ATM between the countless businesses, but see no one. We get well sore behind, but sit so high that photography is optimal.
Then all of a sudden, we create a smaller queue among business people as we milk our four cards. Then it's silk time! This time we take a rickshaw each. Our rickshaw driver knows just the right place in the Muslim Quarter. Across town again, just another direction. In a wide back alley we find two shops. We are led into one, and shown down into the basement.
Here, the floor is covered with
two huge white mattresses, with a row of benches in between. The
walls are completely covered with shelves, which are again filled
with rolled up silk. An older, and highly cultivated gentleman, who
is otherwise a Hindu priest, shows scarves. Brocade, woven and silk
in yards. Prices are ridiculous low and it is undeniably difficult
to limit. Even I'm going to buy three scarves! Rikke comes out with
about ten kilos!
If one finds the backpack in black in order for the occasion, then have to drop 20 kroner. We end up in a narrow bazaar street where almost all the shops are exciting. Bronze statues, jewellery, silk, marble and wood works, tinplate toys, wood and plastic, batik garments and much more. A man walks with two cages on a long stick. In them sit parakeets and brightly coloured little birds. Want to buy them and set them free but they just get caught again.
We end at the big gath, and follow the river home. Here are a couple of slightly larger puppies around, and there are cuddled and photographed. A small boat has been added and a large water pump is pumping water up to a flushing group that cleans basements and temples for mud. We pass the platforms where the bodies are burned, there just aren't any.
Slightly worn, we get home to Morten. Spends the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the patio. Dinner at the hotel and after a few beers, we head to bed. In the middle of the night, a small dog starts barking, right outside our windows, which are partially netted and cardboard. Eventually I get up and go out on the terrace. It stands ten feet from me and loosens. Here are two things to throw at: Empty plastic bottles and bricks. I throw a plastic bottle in the head on it and shut it up - for minutes. Not only that, I've lost my one earplug! The power went on again last night, and I'm lying down!
22. The water is one meter higher this morning, and things are flowing with the flow. Discusses whether there is corpses in-brtween. It is easy to see, when there is a dead ox in between: there are crows on it, and picking despairing in its thick leather skin. It must be frustrating to sit on a ton of food, and then not be able to get in to it!
Jesper spotted a mongoose on the terrace. It sneaks in between the 50 large potted plants that stand at the end of the square. Jesper jumps around between the pots, Morten keeps watch and I walk on the edge of the wall. We get them out, but they disappear like two brown lines, through a small hole in the wall.
A guy comes walking with two stacks of wire baskets, while playing the flute. He walks along the bank, 12-15 meters below us, but stops as he sees us. The baskets are unpacked and several rainbow boas or alike are spread out. A few cobras emerge from their baskets, and "dance" to his flute. The children, and not least an unusually nosy kite, find it difficult to hold distance and claws from the snakes. We shoot some photos and I throw a banknote with coins down to him.
We spend a little too much money on silk yesterday, and get new directives for an ATM. It is located just around the corner. Well, shit, we saw most of the city yesterday, and it wasn't expensive. We find more silk at another comfortable silk shop, and show Morten some of, what we saw yesterday. Then back to the hotel to book out. We pay DKK 300 for two nights in two rooms, and all the coffee and food we have eaten at the hotel.
We booked a flight to Delhi and sat more and more nervous for a few hours waiting for the taxi. It turns out, the plane is a little later, you should not book in so early, and it is faster to get out to it. Finally, there comes a guy who leads us up to the taxi. A somewhat older Ambasadour, and a driver who twists it very quickly through the city. It is starting to rain, as we have come out of town. We stop so that the driver can change the gas bottle as we run out. He then pauses a little later, to open the new one.
Then we are finally at the airport. First security check is outside the building. One more inside, and then we can go up to the restaurant and wait for us to check in. We have to fly with Sahara Air. Get boarding passes and then through two more checks. This must be the world's most secure airport. Even the employees are checked, when they have just been out on the other side looking for a folder or the toilet. The seals on the food containers are checked. A nail clipper that has managed many flights to and from the US, is confiscated. Morten's six kilo bronze statue, Christmas light chains and other hardware staples receive special attention. The staff is really meticulous, but still with a friendly smile and extremely polite
Finally we are out on the runway, so you just have to designate your checked bag, so it can be brought on board. A giant shih with a fierce full beard, and an even more impressive moustache stand still, with a proper cannon in his hands. The calmness and confidence he exhibits makes me want to choose him as a personal bodyguard if one day I need one.
There have been three power failures in the time we have been at the airport, but everything is running smoothly and we make it easier on time. Nice plane, reasonably new and embarrassingly clean. As we roll out of the runway, Jesper remarks dryly: It is the longest stretch we have travelled in India, with no honks!
We land in Delhi in the middle of the afternoon. The city looks nice and clean, as we drive from the airport, through what looks like the embassy district. It passes, as we turn into our neighbourhood. We are in the old town, right in the main bazaar. The delicious hotel we had chosen is sold out. It cost twice or more of what we have paid so far, but it has been a cheap holiday and we will spoil ourselves.
We previously recommended another one, which it turns out is even more expensive, and not particularly delicious. One employee follows us to another in the chain, which is also not the case. We are in a street, with masses of hotels, and try anything. Really delicious four person room. We'll take two. One is not quite ready, they are about to paint, but they are finished as we eat.
Return to the first hotel , 100-meter down the street, and we pass five or six holy cows. The hotel should have a really nice rooftop restaurant, and it does. We order, as usual, too many dishes, but it is delicious! They have different meat dishes and the guests are almost all tourists. Welcome drinks, beer and four or five dishes followed by an extremely delicious walnut chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream will be 330 kroner. About ten times as expensive as other places we've eaten, but what - it was worth it.
Rikke calls her mother at home, and as they talk, an elephant walks past our windows, down the street. Lene asks if Rikke has been drinking? We sleep in ouer own double bed. It has the advantage that I can lie fully extended, we each have a fan - Rikke wants more time in it than I do, and our laundry hangs under its own fan in the children's room.
23. Sleeps great, and drops our reservation at the other hotel. This hotel don't have a restaurant, but recommend the one at the other hotel. Why, is a little stuck in the uncertain. The breakfast is on the ground floor, and it is far from perfect with the extremely sublime food we ate on the roof last night. We are sitting next to a television (something we have otherwise been spared) showing music videos. Everyone with the same theme: New love. Everyone with group dance with fun shoulder movements and very jerky dance. The main artists are very close to being European in appearance.
We start heading towards the Red Fort, which is one of the city's main attractions. We pass through the main bazaar, over the course, past a huge mosque where we cannot enter our attire, and then we can see it. It's huge! We have been offered rickshaw countless times, but have refused, both because we wanted the walk and because of a screwed-up price. When we finally stand outside the wall, and are told the entrance is on the other side we have to give in. There are simply too long around the fort, off a wide and dull road.
We hop on board two rickshaws and race around the huge wall. On the sidewalk lie sleeping people, dressed in warn-down and almost black clothes. See some with a syringe, and it's probably not insulin! Otherwise have not experienced anything else of this inflamed environment, and by god have not missed it either.
We stop at an entrance and have to cross a huge square. Buy tickets in a small underground office, and then go through the security check on the bridge. Here are mainly Indians from other parts of the country, and quite a few backpackers. The fort is simply huge. It was built in 1650 by the local maharaja, and was later used by the English. Most of it is in perfect condition. We see the white marble palaces with inlaid coloured gemstones, the huge lawns and the beautiful flowers beds.
A very intrusive guide tries, but we can't listen to his expensive lectures. He later tries to highlight us as stupid ignorant as he wants to sell himself to others. Stupid, our English is better than his! On the other hand, if he just sells a twenty minute trip every three days, he can make a living from it.
Here, as I said, there are many Indian tourists. They try to photograph us in secret, or ask nicely for permission. I pose a few times with friends. There is only one restaurant in here, and it does not look exciting. We have walked several kilometres and could well need a refreshment, but no. On the way out, we pass an arcade souvenir shop. I find a nice box of dromedary bones that costs a tenth of what I would have given.
We find a few new rickshaws. Following the crippling defeat of Jesper and Morten during the last race, they now choose a one-laked man. He must have help up the railway bridge, but then they have an excuse to lose !. We hop off at the other end of the main bazaar and quickly find a restaurant. It is strange where nice shops, hotels and restaurants can be found in huge spaces behind the small dirty and lousy bazaar shops. The light is more of a dim light, but they have food and not least beer.
We are saturated through the bazaar, in search of bargains. We find some natural medicine we have ordered, a fat leather belt, which unfortunately is too long for me. Morten buys it for 13 kroner - without bargaining. T-shirts with god motifs, Christmas tree chains, scented candles, necklaces, bracelets and what do I know. Rikke finds some fabric and find a tailor who can sew a dress for tomorrow. We end up at the hotel and Rikke and Jesper enter.
Morten and I try a parallel
street. Here is a small spice market and a slightly larger vegetable
market. My camera teases and the last half movie turns into nothing.
Should have put the film in the second - identical camera, but I
didn't. Then we get to a mattress street. They sit on the sidewalk
and sew straw and foam rubber mattresses in hand. Around the corner
is a somewhat nicer street, with furniture stores. It's a little too
western, so we take the alley behind. This is where the furniture is
made. Carpenters, tons of foam and tons of upholstery throughout the
length of the alley.
24. I have come in contact with an Indian lady, who collects the same plants as I do. She has had a plant named after her, and has been invited to Europe to give talks on Indian plants next week. We have all been invited home with her, and the others have become curious. We think we booked a car for nine o'clock, and wait until half past ten before we leave the reception. Five minutes passes, and he's found one. We drive out through the city, a little out into the countryside and into a suburb. Don't know what we will meet, and are pretty excited. We know that India's middle class is as big as the US, but we haven't seen many of them.
After the driver have been asking several times, we find a nice neighbourhood, with guards at the entrance. We land just a little late in front of a nice house, with many herb pots in front and on the high wall. The driver parks in the shade and waits. Meena belongs to the upper class that we k now existed, but which we have not seen at all. They have lived in much larger houses, but the man has been retired from the army and they will also be able to afford something else. They have only two servants and then a man who comes and helps Meena move pots and mix soil, a couple of times a week. While in Europe, a nursery owner comes and lives in the house so he can look after her flowers.
They are incredibly sweet and hospitable. I walk around the garden with Meena while the others talk with her husband. She probably has just as many different plants as me, just more of each and many in huge sizes. They come from all over the world. The family from the United States bring some when they visit, and she travels a great deal herself. I borrow Jesper's cool digital camera, and shoot about 50 photos of the garden and individual plants. Gets a few cuttings, of an American plant I've been hunting for a few years.
I reluctantly go in to the others in the house. The man is still giving lectures around this part of the world. His specialty is; how to stay friends with the huge sleeping Chinese dragon. His views on war, people, the US president and much else are completely like ours. Meena seems a little shaky about where we live and what places we have been in India. She could never dream of going to such places. We are invited for food, but have already been here three hours, and must have been shopping a little more, here on the last day. We say goodbye to them, and not least their dachs-dog, and roll back to the centre.
Now that we don't have to spend more money, the neighbours - on both sides - of the hotel are obviously two ATMs! We cross through the bazaar again, though without finding much. Return to our roof restaurant, to try the last third of the menu, plus a few favourites from the other visits.
25. The holidays are over, we get up early and drive to the airport. Expensive breakfast, a stroll in the duty free and then to Munich, where we are for half an hour. In Copenhagen we paddle around a bit to find the car, and with the horn at the bottom, we rush to Roskilde, many experiences richer.
Great holiday for little