Another incredible day touring Rajisthan

Jodhpur, Blue City of Rajisthan … The sun city! What a spectacular day!
We will see the Best fortress of Asia. Mehrangarh Fort .. 15 century city was founded. Bounded by gates. And we will also see sister site, made of bright white marble … Which is actually cremation / Burial ground of the royal family of this city.  
We can see in distance the largest private palace of the world. 365 rooms, royal family of Jodhpur lives here.  
3 million population in this city. Gaj means elephant. Military base is here due to proximity of Pakistan. 
This morning I wandered around a fifteenth century white marble structure dedicated as a memorial to the royal family. It is stunning. Beautiful setting. Thank you. Jaswant Thada … Made in 1899. 
Last night a scarf orgy at the shop in the palatial hotel. Truly living the dream. 
Beautiful view of the blue painted buildings in the city from high up. Women dressed mostly in reds.  
Next? The Mehrangarh Fort! We took elevator to the terrace on top. Fabulous view of the blue city! Many buildings painted blue. I can see fortress walls from up top. I can hear chanting and music from inside and down below. Drumming. Voices. Magic music fills the air. Awesome. Flocks of birds. “Cello”… Means come with me … Follow 🙂
Heading now to the Golden city of Rajisthan… Of Jaisalmer. Staying in a palace redone as a hotel. The most beautiful so far :). Oldest city of Rajisthan in mid twelve century. Yellow sand, yellow sandstone. Honey gold. 78,000 population and a quarter of them inside the structure, citadel, Fort. Two nights In this town. Camel ride, sand dunes in sunset! Wow!  
Camels are known as the ship of desert. Single humped camel in India, Rajisthan. They can conserve up to Five litres of water in a day retained in their fat cells in humps. Long necks. They live 25-30 years. Used for transportation. To carry goods and people. They drink camel milk and make cheese from camel milk. Camels go out for grazing in groups in daytime.  
At lunch in the desert we had a lovely chat and counted our purchases. Half way through our trip … It’s “hump” day for me …. Lol ….. 469 bangles we have collectively bought. 61 silk scarves last night alone in Jodhpur. And another 62 other scarves … 123 total scarves so far for 17 women in this group. 
Back on the road, Janie and I are alternating telling a story of life in India in the desert. 
We passed camels wandering across the sand … And then real sand dunes! Wonder of wonders, awe-struck at the real thing, up close. 
Trucks going by, many passengers, with turbans … Maybe 20 men in one vehicle, riding home from work? 
Women in bright sarees and scarves riding side saddle on back of motorcycles. Sometimes children wedged between her and the driver and cows. Always present and wandering
Pilgrims, nomads and even a very simple wedding. Saying promises and vows. 
Wind mills in this rural sandy region. Animals grazing in the sparse greenery. Little thatched roof circular simple structures used as homes. Camels stretching their long necks to partake of leaves on the trees. Their unique shapes on the horizon. How exotic to see camels grazing along the drive.
We are at Jaisalmer tonight in a Fort, an actual Fort converted to hotel. The most beautiful hotel of this city.  
Namaste!
Pamela

Today’s lesson: Honouring things completely and yet not making a big deal. 

Wonders of Rajisthan, 30 January 2016, women’s travel club journey

WONDERS OF RAJISTHAN, random facts from a days travel in this region of India
We are heading to Blue city. Jodhpur. 3 million people live in this city. We will spend One night in Jodhpur before moving on to Jaisalmer.  
We will visit the Largest fortress in Asia. Built in 15 century. Whoa!  
Few stops along the way. From white city, Udaipur … to blue city, Jodhpur …. takes 6 hours. We will stop in Jain temple along the way. Hidden in valley. Took fifty years to construct … Made of white marble. 1444 pillars, all different! Jainism is the religion.  
Rajisthan is the land of wonders.  
On their travel, People worship bullet motorcycle … And we will see temple where this takes place!  
Water systems important in this region. 12-13 century developed.  
1.25 billion people here in India. Second largest country of world in population next to China. 
Today going to desert triangle of Rajisthan. Tomorrow to Jaisalmer (sand dunes) and camel ride …. and Bikaneer the days after … completes triangle with Jodhpur. 100 km west is Pakistan. India’s army is largest volunteer army in world.  
3600 kms from north to south tips India. Bangladesh and Pakistan used to be part of India, no longer. It is the 7th largest country in world for land coverage.  
Teas exported from India, like Darjeeling. 5 Major cities, Delhi, Mumbai 22 million, then Calcutta … Tomb of mother theresa in Calcutta,… Bangalore , Chennai, are the five metro cities in India.  
Goa is beach destination of India.  
They have a dry state in India, holy place from birthplace of mahatma Ghandi furthest west
Largest and first and long standing uninterrupted democracy in the world in India. Bharat started first democracy. Number system started here. 300,000 active mosques. Sanskrit is mother of all languages. Oldest place … Game of chess invented in India. Gained independence without violence. Largest number of post offices. Largest employer in world is Indian railway.  
The art of living. “Accept people and situation as they are. Don’t be the football of others”.
Yoga was started here and has been practiced for five thousand years. Veranassi has most cremations, one every ten minutes 24/7.
We saw a cremation along the highway as we drove today … Amazing. 
Along the river Ganges, 84 ghats for bathing and washing….2 for cremations. Veranassi is the Mecca for Hinduism.  
In our discussions of religions, we heard that for Buddhist, life is suffering. Suffering is from desires. To practice toward enlightenment … Achieve less, suffer less, desire less.  
Cricket is unofficial religion.. People love it. They also win awards in completion. We have seen many impromptu games of cricket in the fields outside the bus windows as we drive through India :). Played by you and old alike.  
Jainism and Buddhism were both founded in India, and are both off shoots of Hinduism..
They believe in Good and bad karma, reincarnation of life. And date back to 600 years before Christ.  
 Jainism. Everything has life in it. Plants and trees too. Non violence. More strict principles, less popular. Non violence and self control is Jain. Non violence, and non possessiveness. One of oldest regions in world. Rather than believing in a god, they believe in a series of propagators of that faith. 4.2 million follow this religion in India, most in Rajisthan. Most are intellectuals, Merchants and doctors. 6 million in world. Vegetarian. Vegan. Not harm even insects. Escort them only. No harsh words of speech. No root veggies as hurts insects. Vow of no harm to living beings. Only speak truth. Silence. Not take anything which is not offered. Wear white for peace. Not use dyes as unnecessary killing of plants to make said dyes.
Sikh beliefs. Service for people and meditation to connect with supreme power. They believe that if I smile at others, makes me more happy. Feed people at temple, community kitchen, thousands a day. Sit on floor to eat … Oneness and digestion is aided by sitting on the ground.
RURAL INDIA
We stopped for photos of water system still used only in rural Rajisthan. Wow!  
(We made a stop … Hundreds of bats hanging in the trees …. Singing and flapping wings … Huge and spectacular. Amazing!)
Monkeys in the trees. Langpoors. Along the very twisty road. Through forest, semi arid. 
Nestled in hills. Temple Ranakpur today. Non violence means to Conquer enemies within. Against Materialism. Liberate soul. Right knowledge. Right faith and right action. Permanent bliss. They are against Attachment, Anger, Greed. The temple covers 48,000 sqft and took more than fifty years to build. Carved from Marble, in beautiful symmetry. 
“Moksha”. Blissful state of enlightenment. A priest of the temple came to bless me, as I was walking around listening to the audio tour and taking pictures.  
The Goal of the practice is to destroy destructive behaviours. All beings have souls. First vow non violence. Second vow, speak truth and never wound. Not to steal. Detachment. No sexual misconduct. Five of them in total. The Monks walk in barefoot all over the world. 
We stopped for lunch.. Saw a camel … 3.5 hours to Jodhpur. 
We stopped for a break, washroom and back on the bus.  
Next stop was a bonus…. the Bullet motorcycle shrine for safe journey. We had to take our shoes off and got blessed, with color bindy mark on forehead … My second one today. The motorcycle is encased in glass with marigold flowers. We noticed a few rats around the motorcycle …. And then took a photo of the tree where the man had died. The legend goes that each day the motorcycle was taken to police station then next morning was back again at the site. It happened again the next day … And thereafter they left the motorcycle at the site and made a shrine of it For safe travel. Even the gas stations are now named after the late owner. People stop here, offer gifts to the shrine and keepers of it …. To guarantee safe travels.  
Onward!  
Somewhere in Delhi my boundary of comfort zone moved. Here I am walking barefoot in this shrine area where a motorcycle is being worshipped! Ha ha. My friend Janie pointed out that she could not believe I would do that. …lol. India has changed me, she is correct.  
We are now blessed for safe travels. 
Namaste!  
Pamela of India!!

Pushkar, off the grid! India

Off the grid in India. Where?
Outside of Pushkar at a desert resort, the visitors choice! It is an oasis I the rolly desert hills … So much like Kamloops that I feel I am back in time.
In the town of Pushkar it is holy and sacred … Many foods and alcohol not permitted … No garlic, onions, meats, chicken, eggs …. In our resort, we are far enough, a few miles, out of town so we can still enjoy these products. Although for me, I have not had any alcohol since my long Air France flight … The first leg of it. Since then have been in flow of the tour and life here … Purely gluten free, dairy free and meat free :). It is easy to support a vegan lifestyle in India. Here, animals are sacred … Or some are. Ha ha and then we see a McDonalds restaurant to remind us of home. McDonalds do not serve beef in India.  
Milk is always in the Masala Chai, so although many in the group are developing a routine and love for this soothing beverage, I have tried it black buy prefer to not bother.  
This morning I awoke to the sweet sound of roosters crowing … And silence. It is peaceful and calm in this place, off the grid.  
Yesterday we drove here, had a few hours to eat and relax then to the temple of Brahma in the town … And a sacred ceremony for new karma along the bank of the fabulous river. I wept at the beauty and love that I felt in that place. Not expected and so generously given … For all time and for all my ancestors, my children and my grandchildren. I was given a sacred red and yellow bracelet, a passport, if you will, for this amazing place.  
Yellow powder, red powder from vermillion, rice, sugar, purple flower petals, on a silver plate offered to the river after the blessing. And a coconut was part of the ceremony and prayers as well. First in their language, then repeated in English and we chanted along with the priest. The banks of this sacred river was encircled by sacred steps and places of worship and between, places for people to bathe ( we saw men bathing in the river, in places separate from the holy sections). Birds being fed, and the odd cow wandering around. It was a postcard of beautiful India. I am still in awe of the entire experience. A picture with the priest and of the holy site of the ceremony will take me back to that moment. Thank you. Namaste.
Then shopping in the very expansive and pleasant bazar …. All manner of trinkets, shawls, bangles, food, clothes modern and traditional …. The women in our group had a very enjoyable time and I think left some money in support of the community. Smile. 
Then back to the resort for a dining experience at the buffet, and I had a back massage for half hour and a luxurious leg massage and foot reflexology treatment …. And then to my individual cabin shared with Sherry for a quiet and restful sleep.  
Only one night here. Off to Uidapur today. A large city and a lengthy drive today. I want to wander first on the grounds and take more pictures of this oasis on our trip.  
Thanks for joining me. Namaste! To all of you and the singing birds outside my cottage window this beautiful morn.
Pamela

Astrology

Astrology
3 parts, to horoscope reading. 
first part is Astronomy … The science
Second part: Astrology, according to dob, time and position … Where was Mars, Mercury Venus etc…. I’m Capricorn 
Sky map, Placement of the planets and moon, sun and so we know our horoscope sign … On Astrology chart, up is east (not north) … Planetary position is important.
Third part is treatment: stone to wear … Which place …which finger … 
Pamela … Travel, some time alone, travel in mind always, mind very busy, this is a good year for me, … Green and white good colors for me … Diamond, opal, emerald to balance … Wear on baby finger of left hand or bracelet is second best place. I am Social, and I like my lone time. Communication is strength. Busy in my brain.  
Pamela

Independence Day in India, one of 3 major celebrations in a year here

INDEPENDENCE DAY in India
I awake to a lovely garden outside my window, birds chirping and hazy morning light covering the beautiful lawn and garden benches. We are close to the water and boardwalk here. Last night we could see vendors on the boardwalk and lots of visitors and tourists walking. It is a beautiful city in the city part – where we are now. In contrast to Agra and the parts of Delhi that we experienced, this city is more modern and even has hanging baskets of flowers along the boardwalk!! Still tuktuks and traffic, we are still in India.
It’s blue sky today … Our first morning blue sky since arrival! Fantastic, fresh and vibrant. Flowers and greenery everywhere. Everything looks better with blue! Lol. A great day of celebration. Sunglasses needed!  
First stop the Amber Fort and a ride on the back of an elephant! Wow – very fun indeed. The view was spectacular of the surrounding area as we climbed higher and higher. Many young men taking photos and we were to find out later how aggressive their sales techniques were … But for now, enjoying the adventure and vistas. Jaipur seems much cleaner than the last places we have stayed … And although congested, seems a bit more manageable. The fort was huge, and indeed spectacular.  
On this trip I am inspired by the details of the carvings and paintings, frescoes and other designs of architecture that I have seen. I am hopeful to combine them one day in a quilt of my journey to India.  
After the Fort we went to a handicraft cooperative where we were served tea, soft drinks, pakoras and some other snacks and shown the beauty of carpet making in wool and silk. Then to the fabric and textile area where we were shown all kinds of textures, colours, sizes and prices! When one appreciates quality it is easy to fall in love with the art.  
We had a saree wrapping demonstration – and they used me for a model for the other women to watch. I was draped and wrapped in just a moment … Covered in pink from head to toe 🙂 and even a bindi mid forehead just between my eyebrows. It was fun to be the model and the process seems so effortless to the talented woman doing the demonstration. Still no Saree purchases in our group!  
Upon leaving that venue we went to another palace structure and then on to the observatory and explained how horoscope study is used in India. Interesting! The sun was out in full by now and the air warmed up quite a bit. We were treated to a ride on rickshaws through the streets and to the market area of Jaipur.  
We got back on the bus, some of the gals heading to the central market area of town for some shopping. The rest of us followed the itinerary to the Gem cutting demonstration and an opportunity to shop some for those serious gem and precious stone lovers!
Back to the hotel for a walk along the boardwalk and photo time. Feeling like part of the street celebration, we walked and enjoyed the hubbub in the air and on the walkway. Street food and knickknacks were being sold, balloons being held, kids squealing with delight and playing … A cow eating some seeds left for pigeons. It was late afternoon and the sun soon to descend.  
A few of us went for supper via TukTuk just a few short blocks away. And home early for relaxing this evening, packing and preparing to head out tomorrow to Pushkar. It will be a smaller town, I understand, and partly in desert. We are meeting with spiritual guide type people I believe, and have some time to shop in the market in Pushkar. The sun will shine and it will be a lovely day away from the hustle and bustle of big cities and aggressive sales folk ….. What treasures will we see? Will we feel blessed?  
Trying to stay in the moment as much as possible and to hold the space for all that comes and goes through me here in India. Land of beautiful things, eastern sun and exotic visions.  
Good night my family and friends, Namaste….
Pamela
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Day of Abandoned fort and travel

It’s Independence Day in India and yesterday we had a day of travel.
Yesterday we drove to Jaipur. First, the sights leaving the city of Agra. Kind of a dirty little city, built no doubt to support the visitors to the Taj Mahal. Small openings showing the meagre and minimalist size and belongings of families living on the edge. Shops are really just counters with some wares displayed behind the vendor and people – mostly men = standing around and talking. About one in 10 or 20 are women carrying children or packages and seem to be going somewhere. We see school children in uniforms and even some schools are seen from the road.
Everything seems dirty. No recycling and the streets and side alleys and properties strewn with packages and refuse. Long bristled brooms sometimes seen to be sweeping a piece of land near a property worker, who is looking after his own site. It’s breath taking to see the amount of garbage that goes to the environment to deal with. Animals, pigs, cows and dogs mostly rummaging for foodstuffs in the rubble and filth.
On a cheerier side we see vendors pushing brightly coloured and ample Vegetable carts, filled with cauliflower and all manner of veggies that look fresh and in contrast to the grey of the garbage and dust that surrounds them.
I won’t soon forget the sights of this day. I try to let the vision of the poverty and filth enter and move through me. Much gets stuck in my heart region. I hope in time I can let it release back to the world. I send out Ho’oponopono wishes in repetitive fashion as I take in another view and another view and another, sigh after sigh, breath after breath.
As we distance ourselves from this city, we are in rural India. Still hazy and cool in the morning and feeling full from another exquisite breakfast at this 5 star fabulous luxurious hotel.  
Luv, our tour director tells stories of the royals and this royal region as we enter Rajisthan, and he happily answers questions from the gals.  
We stop for lunch and are ushered outside into a fantastic garden setting. Trees and flowers in this oasis from the mornings sites that still haunt us. The owner shows us his turban, how it is tied and worn … Meters and meters of fabric carefully placed upon his head. It was so interesting.  
We are in the country now and on a major toll highway so we still go by many animals grazing in the fields and along the road sides. We are excited to see the elephants and camels, now, less so for the cows that once delighted us. We are becoming more used to the unexpected in India, having been here over a week.  
How does this all change me as a person? What will I think of in terms of my own life and meaning? This is a haunting place in so many ways and the intense eye contact from the locals contributes to the messages getting directly into my heart. Young boys in the back of a big truck, under blankets and a goat curled up the corner. The boys are delighted to wave to us, we wave back, they giggle and wave again. Do they think we are someone famous? To them, I guess we are!! Feeling privilege and honouring that they think we are special. It is a moment, a postcard … A memory of this place.
Luv says 80% marriages are still arranged in India. Matched by families using the horoscope. Not as concerned with caste as in perfect fit based on date and time of birth and location of birth – which directs the families to find the mate for their sons and daughters for life partnership. Large elaborate ceremonies, even the time of the wedding is dictated by the horoscope. There are expert readers of this ancient art of the mating game, and we will be meeting such a one on this trip.
We stop at the very old abandoned palace and city – a ghost town really, in India, in Rajisthan – very famous and picturesque. With the mist still floating in the air we wander and take pictures and imagine the magnificence of diamonds and gem stones and how this magical place must have once sparkled in glory. Each wife of the Emperor, all different religions including a Christian wife, a Muslim wife and a Hindu wife, all have different living quarters. We can see remnants of what life could have been like with the help of our expert guide.

Fatehpur stop, abandoned city. Photos safely stored in my trusty iPad.  
We moved on and had a few hours to drive in the afternoon, through rural countryside. Bright coloured sarees worn by the local women and turbans of the region by the men. Apparently the colour and shape of the turbans changes and can be identification of every 15 miles in this region. The women wearing bright saffron colours, oranges, peach …. You can see them for a long distance away, often carrying heavy loads upon their heads as they walk and go about their business of the day.
As we arrive in Jaipur there are thousands of kites up in the air, and many more hung up on trees and wires. This is part of the national day of celebration for India’s Independence.
We arrive at another oasis hotel, in the Trident chain about 545 pm local time we arrive. We have 45 minutes to prepare for our evening venue, a hosted dinner and then dancing and puppet show entertainment for us. We dress warmly and put on our Deet as it is an outside event. When we arrive they provided heaters and a cover for our groups tables. Food is authentic and lovely, the colourful and talented dancers and puppeteers and musicians keep us entertained. A man does some fire swallowing, there is snake charming demonstration as well. About 6 of us got up to dance at one point … I feel clumsy next to their expert skills.  
Attached to that venue is a very famous bar. Turquoise painted ceiling and walls with white trip, bright lights and fantastic chandeliers, candle lit tables and Italian themed meals served. It is lovely open to the air. Quite the setting! We have a group photo and laugh.
Home late and exhausted. Such a big day today now …. Independence Day, shopping, elephant ride, the Amber Fort, gem cutting and more. Phew. This is a full and exhausting tour and yet, I would not have wanted to miss a thing!!!!
Wish you were here, 
With love
Pamela
Photos later! Internet is sketchy.