Sunday, May 24, 2009

View my Picasa Web Album - Children of India



Children of India

23 May 2009
by Mark Takefman



Friday, May 22, 2009

Camel Riding in the Desert

Ok, it was not planned.  My friend Craig (from Aberdeen) and I were invited to the Chouhan’s “farm”.  At least that’s what they called it.  It’s a 8 acre package of land 20 kilometres outside Barmer towards Pakistan.  It’s 8 acres of desert. But it has a large stone crushing plant on it and what looks like a nice octagonal house, which is a party house, and has a water processing plant in the basement.  They package small plastic bags of water which are sold for 1 rupee a piece.  You rip a corner of the bag with your teeth, drink and then throw the bag away. That’s India.

They also had two camels.  Craig seemed reluctant to get on, but was pressured to by Joghinda, the eldest son of Mr. Chouhan.  So he gets on and the camel abruptly gets up.  Craig is barely hanging on, jerking back and forth. My camel is now in the full lotus position on the ground waiting for me to get on board.  I climb onto a very uncomfortable cloth with no place to hold onto anything.  The camel abruptly gets up and I too struggle to hold on.

Then we walk.  Yes we are being lead by men on the ground, but still it’s a bumpy ride and I realize, if the seats on my intended 3 day trek into the desert with some of my cohorts are not first class with extra foam, we’re going to get some real bad saddle sore.

Otherwise the walking was fine. 

It was the getting off that didn’t happen according to plan.  Craig got off ok, but my camel, now called “Mark” decided it was not going to lower itself down to let me off.  It fought off the handler holding the rope/reigns, grunting and swearing, spitting and bouncing around.  And yes, I am still on it’s back.  Who knows, maybe it liked me there.  I was feeling kinda helpless up there so  I started to camel-whisper in it’s ear and it slowly calmed down and let me off.  Really, you think I’m making up this stuff.  Ask “Mark”.

PS. Craig’s camel is called “Craig”.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Album - माय न्यू Home

माय न्यू Home

6 May 2009 by Mark Takefman

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest of desert forts of the world. It is situated in Jaisalmer city in theIndian state of Rajasthan. It was built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from where it derives it name.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Shifting Times

The don’t call it Moving Day here, it’s called Shifting.  Have you shifted your accommodation?

I did.  A little auto-rickshaw pick-up truck style came round to stuff my gear, bed, desk, cooler, fridge, chairs, and other assorted things I’ve accumulated, into it’s small cargo space.

The price was fixed at 150 rupees but after the work was done the driver said he needed more money.  I only had about 9 rupees more and so he had to settle for that.

After everyone who helped had left, and I was alone with all my junk piled in the house, the magnitude of the work that needed to be done sank in.  I ran around here and there doing one little thing then moving to another.  But the big job, was and still is, the cleaning of everything.  One problem with cleaning the walls is that the paint comes off when you use water.  It’s more like whitewash than paint.  But it’s also splattered all over the floors, counters etc, so almost every inch of the place needs to be washed, at least according to Mark’s rules of cleanliness.

I turned on the pump, that supplies the water to the roof top tank from the water tank under the house.  (no central water distribution here that works).  It takes about an hour to fill, but unfortunately the down pipe in the wall which supplies the house, is broken and so the tank emptied itself into the walls and onto the floors.  This I discovered in the morning. The landlord is on the case along with fixing some other minor details like broken light switches, a screen on the roof grid to keep the birds out, and removing a large ugly table.  But I did sleep in the house that night with the ceiling fan blowing hot air onto me.

The fridge is not working, did I mention that.  Fridges and air conditioners here need an electronic stabilizer as the power supply is inconsistent. So I don’t know if it’s the fridge or stabilizer. Help will be on it’s way.

The toilet for the house is Indian style so I bought an add-on device, basically a short chair with a toilet seat on it which fits over the Indian toilet.  It works and it’s red.

The shower works too ( I have to turn on the pump to get water which leaks as I take a shower but otherwise I would not be able to until they fix the pipes.)

But it’s nice to be able to start setting out my things that have been stuffed in my backpack for almost two months.  Of course I repacked all my winter clothes. But I will put out my pictures, Nomie (my travel Nome that Katie made me years ago) and my dulcimer etc.

I was cleaning the paint off the latch from the front door when a young girl of 20 came into the front patio, calling me Uncle, as they do here, and told me she was my neighbour and would I like some tea.  She is in college and is going to major in English, fortunately for me.  She asked me all the usual questions about my name, where I came from, where’s my family.  I showed her a picture of Katie and she wanted to know when Katie was coming. She took the picture to show her mother who came out to be introduced.  They told me that if I needed anything to please just ask. How sweet.

Later that day I heard the door bell chirp. (they don’t ring they chirp) and when I went to the front patio, there was about 25 people there including three women with their babies, about 15 kids of different ages and one guy, the spokesperson, with tiny baby Niki in his arms. The standard questions were asked and they asked to be let in. I wasn’t ready for that yet and I’ve been warned three times not to let people, especially kids into the house.  So I made my excuses and wished them all a Namaste and they went back to their homes.

And by the way, there is a small herd of white cows right outside my house, they belong to my neighbours who milk them daily. They look interestingly eerie at night, standing there motionless in the streetlight.

So back to cleaning cleaning and cleaning and setting up my home.  I will get some more furniture and carpets and wall hangings. Home Sweat Home.  (sic)


There ain't no rules around here! We're trying to accomplish something!  

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) U. S. inventor