Sunday, November 04, 2012

Flying Higher, Digging Deeper, Getting Personal

Addendum to the post about Traffic Rules: Our adorable Skip, the only man in the Santa Cruz contingent, quipped yesterday that the safest way to be a pedestrian in India was to wear a cow costume! This cracked us up -it seems so true!

Extraordinary morning yesterday, Saturday. We went out into the countryside for a hot air balloon ride in an area that was quite rural. We sailed over tree-covered ridges and saw ancient stone walls below that surrounded an old village fortification. There were dozens of monkeys watching us from a transformer tower where they had climbed.

Eventually we landed in a flat field near a small village. Immediately the balloon basket was mobbed by a crowd of villagers of all ages. They swarmed around touching my hair and face and gazing into my eyes. They signed that I should follow them to the village and they would feed me. I began to photograph them and they were thrilled. When we came out of the basket, this continued for another 20 minutes, intense one-on-one connection. It was so heart-opening for me. I held people's hands, stroked their cheeks, took their photos, told them how beautiful they were. Since I had my back to the balloons, I assumed that all of us Westerners were having a similar experience. But in fact I was the only one getting mobbed, apparently because of my "white-blonde" hair. Krish said that many village people in India have never seen this. Judy joked later that if she decided to stay here she was definitely bleaching her hair!

The plan had been to continue to the nearby Amber Fort. But unexpectedly we were brought back to the hotel, only to learn that the husband of a woman in our group (someone from Connecticut) had unexpectedly died at their home that morning. So sad, and that woman left us yesterday to fly back home.

So we took a walk, did some shopping (always fun here), and had lunch. The Amber Fort visit was moved to the afternoon. It was lovely, pink, high up on a hill, and ornately decorated. It was the home of maharajas and their courts for many centuries.

On the way back we saw a pavilion built in the lake for maharaja summer parties. We also stopped at a textile place to see block-print demo, rug making, and drop a ton of rupees on gorgeous stuff. Lucky we brought half-empty suitcases on this trip!

Fabulous day. Fabulous country. We are all falling in love with India, so many contrasts here, such amazing color and beauty and then the raw underbelly too. We are only scratching the surface of what is here.

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Location:Jaipur, India

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