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THIS IS INDIA

Written on: Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

A journal entry from: ASIA PART II

Station Rd East, Aurangabad

Cafe Internet

This is India. You don't have to be anywhere or go far to see it. Because it's everywhere you look, staring right back at you. The sights, sounds and smells are far from familiar and all too foreign. Their stares judge you and your western ways but then their smiles warm your heart and welcome you. This extraordinary country has the ability to captivate while frustrate and this is only the beginning of why I love where I am.

I left Mumbai and that comfortable feeling behind me as I embarked on my Indian voyage into Marharashtra. The anticipated five hour journey turned into seven and the bus ride was loud and dusty. My first stop Nasik and its sacred bathing ghats. The city sits on one of India's holiest rivers, the Godavari, and thus it is visited by pilgrims from all over. Surprisingly, it is a city not on the tourist track, so everything was written in Marathi, no one spoke a drop of English and we literally were the only foreigners to be spotted in town. You don't have to be Hindi to appreciate this holy city and it's great reservoir of spirituality. It was absorbing enough watching those perform their ablutions next to the dobhi-wallahs in the ghats. I can only imagine how intense Varanasi will be. I met Theo from Holland en route to Nasik and we have been co-existing for the past week. He has been a wonderful traveling companion and the bonus is that he also shares my love for sweet lassis. We roamed the narrow streets and walkways and were approached by hordes of the townfolk. All fervent to meet us and shake hands with the westerners, particularly Theo, and practice conversing with what little English they hardly knew. We spotted a marriage procession on the streets, or perhaps it was the other way around, as they spotted us and pulled us in to celebrate very loudly with them. It felt like we became quite the spectacle for the Indians, nevermind the Adonis groom sitting high and mighty on his white horse. It was great fun!

We continued from Nasik to Aurangabad and from there we visited the magnificent rock-cut temple caves of Ellora and Ajanta. The photographs, that cannot do justice, are only a momento of the caves' size and grandeur. On our first day, we ventured on the local bus to Ellora and discovered how eager conversationalists Indians can be if you let them. They are very simple conversations but probably some of the best I've ever had in my short life. It took us an entire day to explore the thirty-four caves at Ellora and we had saved the best for last, cave number sixteen, and so as the sun lowered, once again into the horizon, we were rewarded with an awe-inspiring experience at the massive temple complex of Mount Kailasa.

We switched our gameplan for Ajanta the next day and went with an organized group. Apparently thinking that we would gain better insight as to the caves intricate panels and complex murals, luckily for us, so did twenty-seven others. Unfortunately, the overcrowded caves did not allow for me to hear half of what our expert guide was explaining. I did, however, manage to capture several great snaps, so in the end we were all happy.

Aurangabad also deserved a day of it's own. From the impressive Daulatabad Fortress that takes over an hour to summit, this 14th century fort has spiked doors, a grimey moat and pitch black bat-filled corridors; to the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, also known as the Poor Man's Taj Mahal. The Indians have informally named it this, but have a look at the photographs and I'll let you be the judge of that.

The mornings here have been chilly, but from what I hear back home, I am in no place to be complaining. But still, a hot shower seems like a distant memory and that instant cup of coffee is perhaps the next best thing in the world first thing in the morning. Well, if the squirt of 'coffee' they give you doesn't cut it, then the spice in your breakfast sambar or poha should definitely do the trick. By the way, did I mention that I may just eat my way through this country.

 

From Dblock on Feb 10th, 2008

Hey Sis! Finally got the chance to read your blog in detail, instead of just looking at your pictures!! Looks like have you're having a great time so keep us updated on your travels and keep on taking those great pics!! See you in Asia in a couple of months!! Till then Ingat!!

From Erin Ross on Feb 10th, 2008

Oh. my. god. Dianne your photos are stunning... National Geographic quality FOR SURE. They make me want to go to India- so colorful and interesting. looks like your still having an amazing time- i got your email and I'll send you some random texts when you aren't expecting them!! xo

From Sintra on Feb 12th, 2008

Absolutely gorgeous photos Dianne. The camera was a really good investment. I can't wait to see what else you have in store. safe journey!!!!!

From Lana on Feb 16th, 2008

WOW! How are you doing! This is sooooo incredible- your photos are amazing! I love following your journey only wish I could join you!!! xoxox

From Jessica on Feb 20th, 2008

Your photos are just gorgeous! Hope the rest of your journey is wonderful. :)