|Me, my husband, & elephant handler in Jaipur|
There's a common joke these days about "first-world problems." But you don't truly understand how first-world-y your problems are until you visit the so-called third world. No matter how much you prepare yourself, the culture shock is intense for American & western European travelers to India. I'd read up on squat toilets & begging rings & lepers & rickshaws & baksheesh & the hard sell & everything-wallas & Delhi belly & all that. But looking it in the face is totally different, stunning, & humbling.
|Me looking out over the River Ganges|
Yet, despite poverty, I saw so much beauty everywhere. Women picked dusty fields while wearing brilliantly colored saris. Huge trucks belched smoke but were decked in ropes of saffron-colored flowers & painted with swirls & dots. Monkeys, camels, & elephants roamed the streets, even in the cities. Ancient temples stood, not as relics of times past, but as vibrant parts of the everyday community, continually in use.
Of course, we visited the obvious places -- the "golden triangle" of Delhi (the capital, old & new), Jaipur (the "pink city" where Indian couples go on their honeymoons), & Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) -- but also added Khajuraho for the erotic Krishna temples & Varanasi for the holy river Ganges ghats. We had local guides take us around big places & from city to city, & then wandered around markets & such by ourselves. It was a fascinating, exhausting, rich, challenging, & fulfilling experience.
|Air pollution in Delhi|
Of course, the pollution all over India was terrible, not from smells, but from car exhaust & wood-burning fires on sidewalks in the city & fields in the country. I'm not usually sensitive to such things, but I was a sniffly wreak halfway through the trip. Ah well. At least I escaped from worse health problems :-)
Today, I didn't feel up to wearing a lot of Indian garb, so my travel & home dec photos will have to suffice. The cotton salwar kameezes I bought back in 2001 don't fit the way I'd like, plus I'm coming down with a cold today, so I just threw on this top & gathered up my favorite jewelry bought in India.
Black embroidered tunic, thrifted but made in India | Black camisole, NY & Company | Black jeans, Levis | Black buckle ankle boots, Aldo | Black bead & silver skull bead necklace, DisneyLand | Onyx & silver earrings, bought in Delhi | Onyx & silver bracelet, bought in Jaipur | Garnet & silver ring, bought in Jaipur