|Jani, Kathryn, Paty & Katie at the Taj Mahal|
|Chandi Chowk Bazaar, Delhi|
|Jani, Kathryn & Paty at Yoga Class|
|Katie, our driver Manoj, Jani, Kathryn & Paty|
We never guessed what a brilliant decision this was going to be.
Observations of India . . .
Thanks to the expertise of Manoj, we not only survived but come to relish Indian drivers’ comical dance of bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic.
|View from our private pool at The Oberoi Usaivilas, Udiapur|
I can’t tell you how many times one of us said, “I wish I had . . . “only to have the doorbell ring and the wish was granted!
Talk about customer service!
|The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur|
Our only regret on the trip is that we did not allow an extra day in Udaipur, Jaipur, Rathamborne and Agra to enjoy the extraordinary pleasures of these properties.
|The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore|
In Jaipur and Ranthambore our accommodations are elegant tents with embroidered interior canopies, teak floors, private patios and spacious bathrooms. There is no roughing it here.
The Jaipur Oberoi is designed to create a regal setting in a fort palace while the Rathambore
Oberoi is nestled next to the Tiger Reserve amidst the natural raw beauty of the area. The Agra hotel is so precisely positioned that the Taj Mahal sits directly in front of your balcony.
And did I mention? Each comes with your own Butler. Someone please pinch me!
Carts are pulled by tractors or a zoo full of animals. Elephants, camels, water buffalo, bulls, cows, horses, donkeys, even dogs - all being directed by their handler to pull, carry or push bundles of goods to their destination.
Scooters, most with at least 3 people on them, weave their way through traffic in what can only be described as a death wish; bicycles bob and weave propelling rapidly pedaling passengers safely out of harm’s way; buses have people stuffed in every available opening, perched precariously on the roofs, on the rear fenders and out the windows; and overloaded auto-rickshaws bring a bright green and yellow flutter to the mayhem as they artfully maneuver their passengers through the narrowest openings between vehicles;
“I have seen an auto-rickshaw so crowded that one person pushed the gas, while another worked the brake pedal and yet another steered,” noted our Delhi guide Harry. You can’t truly appreciate the possibility of this happening until you have seen an overloaded auto-rickshaw up close and personal!
|Humayun Tomb, Delhi|
|Cow dung roof|
The most unusual building material is cow dung. We see cow dung patties everywhere in the small villages drying in the sun and also as finished buildings. Unfortunately, we are never able to see one of these up close and personal. Leaves a lot to the imagination, wouldn't you say?
|The Lake Palace, Udiapur|
We ask our tour guides, why the government doesn’t provide basic sanitation services like garbage removal and why aren’t the people doing more about it themselves. The answer was always the same, “In India, the responsibility of the individual is inside the house; the outside is the government’s responsibility. The politicians are so corrupt that nothing gets done.”
In spite of the garbage strewn all over the streets, we do see people actually bringing their garbage bags to dumpsters only to have it picked apart by water buffaloes, cows and goats that eagerly dive in.
India is SO very affordable.
|Road-side Barber Shop|
Everyone has a little enterprise which is located on each and every road we pass through.
Barbers, fruit and vegetable sellers, appliance stores, cell phone vendors . . . you name it and someone in India can do it, provide it, outsource it and get it to you!
Thin children wander the streets in rags. Pitiful beggars work the street intersections – we are told that most work for the “mafia” who takes most of the beggaars “earnings.”
" My property taxes are more than the wages of a middles class family in India," Realtor Kathryn figures out.
Communal wells and baths are the norm. Passed many a person taking their morning toilette at the public water pump.
Our elegant journey through India is just that; an elegant experience that is a royal treasure.
Kathryn surmises the trip for us, " I wonder how I got so impatient, so miffed at modern conveniences. I vow to change. I am bringing back from India not only the nice carpets but also a greater appreciation of life. Next time someone takes fifteen minutes at the ATM, I promise to just relax and not get annoyed, or better yet offer to help.
I admire the thriftiness I see on the streets and fields, A branch is a gate, and why not. The well is used to water a cow and take a bath. Rocks are used instead of orange cones in case of a breakdown, fencing is made of mud, animal shelters of sticks and wire. This is the India I am taking back. When I am sitting in my most luxurious home stressing about serving overfed people the perfect meal, I will remember the simple life of the people I saw in India. It will be very hard listening to people complain about anything."
We wholeheartedly recommend India to everyone, especially if you use Elegant Journeys. Nothing like an outstanding tour company to insure your hard earned vacation is exceptional.
Stay tuned. More India blogs coming soon . . . Udaipur, the most romantic city in India . . . . Jaipur, the “Pink City” . . . and Ranthambore, former site of the Maharaja’s hunting grounds now the Ranthamborne Tiger Sanctuary . . . Agra home of one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Taj Mahal.
Postscripts . . .
Photos . . . Jani and I took responsibility for taking the photos . . . some are hers . . some are mine! What a team!
Some Favorite photos . . .