Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014, New Delhi, India

Last night we arrived in New Delhi. Our hotel was at the end of two alleys and although our room did have a window, it looked out on wall. 

This morning we set off walking to find some breakfast and eventually we gave up and were returning to our hotel. Someone picked us up in his rickshaw and drove us to MacDonalds. Never have I been so satisfied to have a bland veggie burger and MacDonalds coffee!
I am just so tired of hot spicey food!

Anyways this auspicious start to the day, prompted Jim to go off with a chap who recommended that we visit a licensed tourist information place.  Now, I have an inkling, that these "chaps" are paid by the tourist information place, but despite that we met a helpful fellow who told us we were about to take a tour that would cost less than half from him.  We cancelled our over priced tour and then planned the rest of our trip with this fellow.  Jim really wanted to see all the sights in Rajastan, and we have a driver and car for the next three weeks so this will be accomplished without much stress on either of us. The quality of our accommodations will also be improved although as with anything it will cost more.

The rest of the day was spent sight seeing. We spent several hours at the red fort, a wonderful 17th century fort. 

We had our first huge rain while in at the fort. Since we have had over a month of solid sunshine, neither of us had our ponchos. And then even though I just wanted to sit down and rest my foot, we saw the wonderful Gandhi museum. I think that Gandhi is an inspiration to the world.

We finished off the day with some wonderful Indian food.  Finally I found an Indian main course that wasn't spicey.  I had some little dumplings filled with potatoes and paneer (cottage cheese) in a cashew gravy and Jim enjoyed his mutton.

February 26, sun temple near Puri, India

Yesterday we hired a car to take us to this magnificent 12 century sun temple

The pyramid temple was designed as a chariot with 24 wheels and seven horses

while there were many ways to achieve grace including meditation, one of the ways was by physical pleasure, and this was depicted in all it's permiatations.

Two earlier temples were both on the same site, one from 11 century and a brick temple from the 9 century.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, Puri India

This morning we took a rickshaw to Raghurajpur, the craft village that is about fourteen km from Puri. 
Thankfully we asked the rickshaw driver to wait and to bring us back as well or I am sure we would still be there.

On our beach, early morning


Wash day

As we were warned in out rough guide, we were not dropped off at the craft village, but at a number of shops that preceded it. Luckily we eventually made our way to the village.

Murals on the house exteriors

The houses of the village were painted with murals. According to Tutu, this village has 100 people, 600 artists and 400 children.  The really bad thing about it was that everyone was desparate to sell us something.  All of the art was based on a zillion hours meticulously painting the Hindu story.
Because some one spends a zillion hours on something and does it meticulously, is it art?
Not in my books. Eventually, we made an escape with three small pieces, one done on cotton, laminated with tameran, one carved into Palm and one on silk.  

Jim and I got dropped back off in Puri at an old train hotel. Unfortunately, it wasn't licensed to sell beer so we walked and walked. Eventually we found a hotel, where the chap said that if we gave him money, he would go for beer. We sat in the shade and eventually beer appeared!!

So much of India seems to be like this. Not licensed but if you pay the money, beer will appear. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 22, Puri, India

The Sari Shop

We leave the heat and traffic behind,
When the door man ushers us through
The big glass doors.
A greeter man
Comes over and looks at me expectantly.
"No saris" I say
"I am looking for a Kurta."
All six of the first floor sales men
Are standing at the ready,
Behind their counters
In front of shelves of 
Shimmering multicoloured saris
Stacked along with others of similar 
Colour and fabric.
Each sari is perfectly folded
In a clear plastic bag.

We leave the first floor visual feast behind.
Another man accompanies us up in the elevator
To the second floor.
It is identical to the first floor
But the shelves are stacked high
With colourful kurtas not saris.
The greeter on this floor eyes me over.
"We have no Kurta to fit the Ma'am.
Would you care to see fabric?"
Or maybe for your daughter?"
Sadly I agree.
"For my daughter"
We are seated at a counter and
Served small bottles of water.
The staff proceed to open packages of kurtas
And lay them in front of me.
Most are colours or patterns that I would never buy.
Finally I am shown one I like
And that I hope Danica might like.
Despite my choice having been made,
More and more kurtas are unwrapped.
Eventually, the sales push is over
And we are accompanied back down
In the elevator.

The kurta travels a separate route
But is there waiting for us at the first sales desk
Where we get the printed bill.
We pay the bill at the second sales desk.
We present the paid bill at the third sales desk.
And at the fourth checkout station,
We are given our purchase,
All meticulously folded and packaged.
The door man ushers us back into 
The heat and bedlam of the street.
The combination of smells and noise seem especially
Jarring after the quiet formality
Of the sari shop.

February 22, 2014 on the train from Chennai to Bhubaneswar

The train lurches to a stop.
People run by our windows 
Peddling food of all sorts.
Because our compartment has air conditioning,
We are immune to the flogging through the window.
We aren't immune to the official train floggers
In red plaid shirts,
They parade back and forth in the corridor.
With low nasal repetitive voices,
They chant:
"Ala Jo. Ala Jo. Ala wim. Ala Jo.""
"Daw lee. Daw lee.", "Chicken  brow nies"
Or "To ma toe soup."

As we proceed through the station,
The platform outside is filled with throngs of people
Waiting for another train.
The women plod along clutching children.
The rainbow of saris
Shimmers and blows
Men stop to wipe their brows with their longhis.
Spitting is also acceptable.
Huge bags and pots are carried on heads.
Family groups lay or sit on the floor.
There are never enough chairs.

Beyond the station,
A  shanty town of bamboo walls,
Bits of metal and low grass roofs,
Is on the no man's land 
Along side the garbage strewn tracks.
Here the paths are swept clean.
Women cook and wash.
Children play.
An old man is hunkered down.

Outside of town, the land is vast and dusty and flat.
Train bridges cross dry river beds.
Cows forage.
Small groups of
Skinny barefoot, bare chested  brown men
With heads wrapped in cloth
And wearing folded up longhis,
Use large round aluminum bowls
To rearrange the gravel along the tracks,
Or to tend the fields.

Amid all this rural poverty and hand labour,
 And as far as the eye can see,
Are hundreds of enormous metal transmission towers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014 Pondicherry, India

Yesterday we took a tour of Pondicherry by rickshaw (tuc tuc) we had a tour of another ashram. I liked the philosophy ( inclusion, peace, acceptance, healthy emotional, and physical lives) of this one but I am still very skeptical about worshipping one or two people as gods. We saw the temple, the ashram, and the paper making facilities

I am always interested in paper making. In this factory they used ground up cotton cloth as the fibre, in some cases adding, banana fibre, coconut, wool. 

The most interesting part of the tour was the paper marbling building. There was a row of cement tubs, each about 30" x 45 " so they could hold two pieces of paper. The tubs were filled with water. The paper marbler then dripped and splashed on various colours of oil paint on the surface of the water. Some times he swirled the colours together. The he put the two sheets of paper face down on top of the water and gently worked the backs of the paper to transfer the oil paint onto the papers surface. Then he flung the sheets over a bar and eventually they were hung on clothes lines in a drying room.

Of course I can hardly wait to get back to Canada and try this. I have made paper using sea weed and cotton but it's the marbling I want to do.  About fifty five years ago, I was at the CNE with my grandparents and my family. There was a booth there that for fifty cents you could essentially try marbling.  I was gob smacked. I wanted so much to try it, but my parents wouldn't spring the 50 cents. They would have had no idea how smitten I was. I spent the rest of the summer trying to figure out a way to turn our record player into a paper marbler, of course I didn't know that the process was based on the fact that oil and water repell and so I was doomed to failure.

As Jim and I sat drinking our afternoon beers, I got this series of photos.body language is everything!

And to conclude yesterday's adventure, here are a couple of my favourite photos.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014 Pondicherry, India

In every trip there is usually a time when the world goes as planned but just not as we would have wanted it to.  An all inclusive resort holiday attempts to avoid this travel trauma and after the stress of today, I am thinking that I should perhaps consider this if I ever get the hair brained travel bug again.

Today, our first rainy day, we arrived in Pondicherry and booked into our okay hotel with no toilet paper, no wifi, no restaurant and constant traffic and horn sounds.  The good and bad is that there are definitely no other tourists here. ( having other tourists usually means that there is something to see as well as okay places to eat. ).  We'd been travelling for twenty two hours to get here. First of all by car at break neck speed down a huge curvy mountain road, then by over night train and then by tuc tuc to a bus station where we couldn't actually get a bus.  Why?  Jim and I are not brave enough or knowledgeable enough.  A bus, and there are many, comes along, but instead of pulling into one of  the over 100 bus parking spaces, stops in the road.  A huge crowd rushes to board.  People toss packages through the windows on the right hand side of the bus so that when they join the crush to board on the left, they just might have a seat.  All could be doable, but we are hot and clammy and I am carrying my huge pack and a broken can. Jim carries his big pack, both of our day packs and his video camera.  We haven't got it in us to run to a nameless bus, pushing to get on, only to stand crunched with our heavy bags for the hours drive to "maybe" Pondicherry.  Eventually we get a taxi that takes us back by the train station and on to our destination. 

Pondicherry is seathing with traffic and the noice of horns. The only creature who isn't rushing or scared is the occasional cow that ambles along loose.  

Most of the motor bike drivers are men.  Sometimes they have the rest of their family along or huge loads of stuff.  

Today I saw one woman driving a motorcycle all shrouded in black with only a slit for her eyes, gunning it down the road.  Later I saw another veiled woman but this time her eyes peered out of a shiny red fabric.  Some how that sent a different message than the black.  Mostly the women motorcycle drivers and riders look gorgeous in their multicolour silk saris.  

Buses, often three abreast, honk their low horns while the motor cycles and rickshaws weave around them.  The cars pass everyone, horns blaring.  Amid this, the pedestrians stride along struggling not to be hit. I am scared to death trying to cross roads. Today an older Indian couple helped me across the nonstop heavy flowing traffic.

And yet I still love India.  I love that when I smile at people they smile back.  I love to see people going about their daily lives; hunkered down washing clothes, cooking on clay stoves, sewing on sewing machines.  I love to see the colourful women with toe rings and glittery sandels carrying loads of grass or big curving containers on their heads, or the brown barefoot skinny old men wearing only longhis useing axes or mauls or driving their teams of oxen or carrying loads of gravel on their heads.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Second post for february 13

This morning I posted a word picture that I had been working on for a few days.
To catch you up with the day to day stuff:
Last night I attended an incredible cooking class.

I learned how to chop- very finely

I learned how to grate fresh coconut

How to grind the spices

How to make a nifty Indian bread.

Here the finished meal I made

Here!s my wonderful cooking teacher, Asha, and her two kids.

Then today we went to the national tiger reserve. While waiting for the boat, I put my pack down.
A psycho monkey decided that it was his pack! He jumped on me twice!!

We also saw wild pigs

Lots of elephants

Including this one doing elephant paddle

We saw bison

Deer and birds

As we were motoring along looking for tigers ( didn't spot one) the people ahead of us were laughing and carrying on. I thought that if we were going to see a tiger they should be very quiet. Suddenly I was reminded of a story my Grandpa loved to tell.  One day he and my uncle Alec and my auntie Martha and my Grandma were all out in a row boat fishing on Sparrow Lake. My Grandma and her sister were laughing and enjoying themselves. My Grandfather told them that they woun't catch any fish if they weren't quiet. Suddenly on both sides of the boat big muskies were on my auntie Martha's line AND on my Grandmas! The quiet fellows never caught a thing.  

Then I though that everyone from this story is dead and probably no one else but me knows my Grandpa's story. What would he think if he were alive and could see me out in a boat in India watching wild elephants and thinking about his story!

February 13, 2014, Kumily, India word picture

India, a kaleidoscope of colour.
Black haired, amber skinned women
Floating along in shiny silk saris,
Often embellished with gold.
Seems as if no two saris are the same.

The women cajole and chat in a sort of musical chirping.
Even on a motorcycle,
The women look like joyous peacocks.

The delivery trucks could be circus vehicles,
With their paintings of elephants, goddesses and flowers.
Some trucks actually carry real elephants.
Most trucks are overloaded with sacks, people, tools.

House are every shade of intense violet,
Hot pink, turquoise, emerald and bright orange,
Sometimes with a loud complimentary trim,
More often with an intense jarring trim colour.
Magenta bougainvillea spills over roofs and walls.

In front and above the shops
Are a hodge podge of huge colourful signs,
All with amazing curving script.
Not a hope of sounding out any words.

The shops themselves are full of plastic,
Mops, brooms, pails, dust pans,
In primary colours as well as viridian.

Some of the shops feature only aluminum and brass.
These pots, candle sticks and kitchen utensils
Gleam in the hot India midday.

It's a visual feast
Presented on a  platter of dusty ochre and sepias
Mixed with jungle greens.

The men and monkeys
Exude a restful calm
In this loud landscape.

The macaw monkeys are brown.

A female has a baby clutched to her chest.
The black monkeys are larger with a low throaty howl.

Both kinds of monkeys cavort in trees and garbage.

The men have long thin brown legs
That stick out from under their longhis.

One minute the longhi is full length.
The next minute, it is being waved about
Or flipped up
And knotted at the waist.             
If the man is wearing a shirt, 
It is light coloured.
White cloths are draped over their heads,
Or  shoulders
Or knotted bandana style around the head.
They men quietly stand or sit,
In shops,
In front of shops.

Sometimes they are working with shovels and pick axes.
Or they are delivering heavy sacks on their heads.

Only when they are close to any sort of vehicle horn
Do  they really join this cacophony of sound and colour.