Back on the blog again

December 31, 2006

We have been doing a lot of traveling since the last post.  We have been to 8 cities on a whirwind tour of India in the last 18 days.  I will write on each of these separately.

We had limited access to the internet.

Megha

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Back on the blog again

December 31, 2006

We have been doing a lot of traveling since the last post.  We have been to 8 cities on a whirwind tour of India in the last 18 days.  I will write on each of these separately.

We had limited access to the internet.

Megha

Visit to Jaipur

December 11, 2006

We got to Jaipur yesterday morning and relaxed in a hotel that used to be part of a palace of the local Maharaja before 1947.

This morning, we saw a lot of Jaipur called the Pink City in India. It has nearly 3.5 million residents, and pink sand stones are used everywhere.

In the morning, we went to see town and passed a famous facade of the buildin that everyone looks at and is much photographed. Then we went to the top of a hill by taking an elephant ride. (Yes, you read it right). On top of the hill was a brilliant palace built in 1720’s, and is now part of a museum. It has the influence of hindu, moghul and isalmic architecture. It also has been influenced by knowledge learned from Europe on glass, mirrors (concave and convex).

We were told it gets very hot in the summer here (120-128 deg F). Winters are mild 40-70 deg F. They get about 10 inches of rain a year. This town is at the edge of a desert.

After lunch we went to see Jantar Mantar, an amazing set of instruments laid out on the ground and is an astronomical observatory. You can time from it using the position and length of the shadow, calculations are geared to GMT, northern and southern hemisphere effects are accounted for. This was a result of a king who was well versed in 15 languages including Farsi, Arabic, Uzbk, sanskrit, Hndi among others. The claim is that it can tell time to within 2 seconds. Many scientists have come to check this out and pronounced that the accuracy quoted was realistic and everyone is amazed.

Earlier we saw a arts and crafts coop and Jeannie spent some time there looking at precious stones, rings etc. I will let her speak for her observations.

Jeannie was telling me after she read about the observatory mentioned above in a magazine we get called Aramco, it was high on priority to cme to Jaipur and see it for herself. Now she has realized her ambition.

Take care all of you and we hope you are enjoying my scribble here.

I know pictures are difficult to post as the wireless system is not ye fully operational here in India. It is coming pretty fast though.

If any of you want to reach us here is a mobile I have thanks to my nephew.

Number country code 91
Then dia 0 99081 83886.

That will ring my mobile.

Megha

Udaipur, Jodhpur

December 10, 2006

From Mumbai – we flew to Rajasthan on Dec 6th..

We are now in Rajasthan – the land of the many Maharajas whose little knigdoms all got consolidated into one state after independence. Many of the Maharajas are now businessmen converting their many palaces to hotels.

Udaipur is a very nice city full of lakes and has a population of 500,000 people. We were staying in a nobleman’s quarters who would come to see the Maharajas over the centuries. Our hotel was by a lakeside and had a wonderful view.

This town is an old twon with very narrow streets. Those of you who have seen old Jerusalem would relate to this.

We spent time looking at a palace where the Maharajah still lives. We got a good glimpse of the majesty of this Maharaja. His family had ruled the area uninterrupted for 78 generations.

The palace we saw was magnifiecient. We will share many of these pictures with you when we return.

he next day, we went o look at some clothese and had some shirts made overnight. These shirts fit me perfectly; Jeannie had outfit made for her as well.

We left Udaipur on Dec 8th by car (about 300 kms) and on the way we stopped at a very unique Jain temple. This temple was built about 500 years ago with white marble found in the area. This is the same marble that is used to build Taj Mahal. The carvings at this temple are out of sight.

Later that day we arrived in Jodhpur. We spent a day visiting a giagantic fort, a memorial for the king, toured the town of about 1.5 million.

The place we stayed at Jodhpur was a palace surrounded by small cottages. We stayed in one of those cottages.

On Sunday moring (Dec 10th), we left Jodhpur to Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan. We will be here for two nights and fly to stay with my niece in Delhi. I will post more from Delhi.

Megha

Mumbai – Elephanta caves

December 10, 2006

From Goa, we landed in Mumbai on Saturday Dec 2 and we were met by a nephew who runs a marketing company in Mumbai. We stayed with him for 4 days. He was a wonderful and gracious host.

Elephanta Caves – About 11 kms from Mumbai icon called the India gate (built to welcome King Geroge V in 1914), we took a ferry to the island, climed a few steps before we were both carried up to the cave area.

The caves here are for hindu God Shiva. The portugese discovered and annihilated some of the statues. This is also a world historical monumant.

They have also detailed carvings and majestic caves.

A Gallery in Mumbai – We went to an art gallery in downtown Mumbai and saw some wonderful modern paintings.

Goa

December 10, 2006

We set out to Goa from Aurangabad by air.

After transferring in Mumbai and getting on a different plane we arrived in Goa mid afternoon. The place we had booked is a resport next to the beach. The rooms were quite comfortable. They don’t always have hot water – you have to turn on the switch and wait for 15 minutes before you can get hot water for a shower.

We walked to the beach (the Arabian sea). A restaurant on the beach is where we had dinner every evening. It is an open resaurant with a roof of hay over your head but no walls. I suspect it is closed during monsoon (4 months) as it rains a lot in Goa. Roughly 125 inches. Needless to say the countryside is very lush.

We both had an aurvedic massage to relax us. This is part of Kerala Aurvedic center that is famous in India. I learned that Kerala is where Aurveda has been really popularized.

We spent 4 days, resting, relaxing; one day we went to the main town in Goa.

I know that some of you may be under the impression that a lot f hippies came to Goa and stayed here, and had many nude beaches etc. All this has been cleaned up. Goa has about 35 beaches 1-2 kms long and receives constantly visiors from Europe. The week we were there there were 10 chartered flights from London. Goa has a easy going attitude like you would find in Hawaii.

We were usually served breakfast on a lawn with Indian or European food. Goa has a lot of remnace from the Portugese days. Portugese ruled the area for over 350 years until 1961 and it is now a state in its own right rougly the size of Hawaiian islands in area.

Megha

Auragabad – Ellora and Ajanta

December 9, 2006

The main reason to come to Aurangabad was to see Ellora and Ajanta.

Ajanta – is a series of caves (about 30 of them).  Buddhist monks started to carve these caves from a granite mountain over a period of 700 years.  The oldest cave goes back to the second century BC and oldest is about 6 century AD.  Each cave is roughly 40-50′ square and is supported by columns with incredible detail in carvings.  The caves are about 10-12 feet all.  Indide there are a number of carvings of Buddha in various forms such as lotus position, upright position etc.

The first two caves are very interesting.  The first cave has the most interesting and famous painting of Buddha.  It is damaged, but you can see the essential painting.  The colors used are all vegetable colors, and this famous picture is a UN World Heritage site.  The cave is not illumined and you are not allowed to take pictures with flash.  We could only see and marvel at the picture.  We have some professionally done photographs we can share when we get home.

To get to see the caves we had to climb up almost 500 feet.  After about a 100 feet, my knees gave up and I had to be carries to the cave site in a chair by for people.  I was ony able to see 4 caves while Jeannie went on to see about 12 caves.  It is just breathtaking.

Ajanta is about 150 kms from our hotel in Auragabad.

Ellora –  Ellora is a little more easier to navigate and consist of 35 caves similar to what I described above.  The first 12 caves are Buddhist, the next 19 caves are Hindu and the last few caves are from a religion called Jainism.  The focus here is detailed carvings on the columns supporting the caves which are about the same size as the one we saw earlier.  One Hindu cave is a spectacular for its beauty and homage to Lord Shiva, and resembles in many ways the abode of Lord Shiva in the Himalayan moutains called Kailash.  The Jain temples offer a completely different perspective as weel  More on that later.

Hotel in Aurangabad –  We stayed in a Hotel that was very nice.  It had nice rooms and a very welcoming entrace with two statues of elephants.  They had a swimming pool, a massga center,  exercise room etc.  I think it cost $ 100 a day.  Room service was excellent.

One day we were both sick and had to send for a doctor on call with  the hotel.  We recovered after some medication.

Hyderabad

December 9, 2006

We arrived  in Hyderabad by plane on Nov 20th from Bangalore.  My nephew Anand (my late brother’s son) met us at the airport, and we stayed with him for 4 days.

He works as a regional sales manager for a publishing company called Jaico and also represents McGraw-Hill and otehr companies from the US for technical books.  He lives with his wife and two children a girl 15 and a boy 13, as well as his mother (my sister in law).  They are a very traditional family.

The children are in 9th grade and 7th grade.  The family has a tremendous respect for education and encourages their children to work very hard.  The young man gets up at 4:30 pm and go to a class to prepare for a test 2 years from now, comes home at 7:30 am, gets a breakfast, and goes to his normal school at 8:30 am; school closes by 3:30 pm and spend another 60-75 minutes going to a library to do his homework befor coming home by 6 pm; eat his dinner and collapse by 8 pm.  The girl does not have the early morning routine, but still works very hard.

We all went to a museum of one family’s collection – the former Nizam family of Hyderabad (this is like the Maharaja except he was a muslim).  It is a wonderful museum with many artifacts from Europe circa 1800’s, as well as modern paintings by contemporary. 

We stayed home and mostly chatted about various things, catching up on old times.  We all went out to dinner the night before we left. 

We took a train from Hyderabad to Aurangabad (about 600 kms away).  We took an air conditioned coach and had a nice sleep on the train, and arrived in Aurangabad at 6 am in the morning.  More about that in another blog. 

Catching up

November 24, 2006

It has been some time since I posted.  For the moment I have given up trying to post pictures as the procedure is very cumbersome and I am constantly using an internet cafe for posting and they are not that well equipped.  So sorry.

After the birthday of Baha’u’llah celebrations, we went to a hill station that is about the same level as Mary’s peak.  However, I made the big mistake of eating something there.  The result was instantatenous.  I had a terrible problem the next day.

However, on our way back from the hill statiuon, we stopped at a campsite where my father ran a school for teachers.  I have some nice pictures of the old house as well as the school I went to in 4-7 grades.

We needed to rest the next day because of my problem and be ready for a surprise birthday partyt thrown for me by my nephew.

We had 20 people, and it was a catered birthday party that everyone enjoyed.

The day before we left Bangalore, we took my nephew and family and a few others to dinner (11 in all), and everyone ate very well at about $ 3.00 each that included a main course, appetizers, drinks, dessert, etc.  This was a restaurant 5 houses from where I had grown up in the 50’s.  In fact the street is completely unrecognizable having been converted completely into a business road rather than houses.  A sad scene fo rme. 

We did some local shopping the next few days all in Bangalore as we started getting ready to leave for Hyderabad, another big electronics/Biomedical town that has been taken over by the Multinationals.

We got here by a plane and was met by my nephew at the airport.  His father (my brother) passed away 20 years ago this year.  I met his wife and family for the first time and we enjoyed visiting each other very much.

Birthday of Baha’u’llah

November 13, 2006

On sunday Nov 12, we rented a cab and went clear across town to participate in the celebrations of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. 

The Baha’i center is in the process of moving to this new center that looks like an old school with a nice enclosed area on a fairly busy street.  It took us an hour to get there on Sunday traffic.  I can imagine that it would take twice as long on a week night.

We were earmly welcomed by the friends.  Two young girls handed us a flower as we entered the area.  We were directled to an open area under a tree.  They set up a stage, a mike, and about 100 chairs.

The progrm started around 11:15 AM, and consisted of two young men acting as MCs.  One was an American (from his accent) and the other was an Indian who would sometimes transalate in to Kannada, the local language.  They started the program with some music and sing alongs including some we hear in Corvallis – “If you are happy you can clap..”, “Down by the riverside”, some songs in Kannada.  Then the formal program started by the MCs inviting an older couple (Persian) to come and light a lamp.  The lamp (an oil lamp) in a tall brass stem standing on the floor, somewhat like what you would see in many hindu temples. 

Then they invited three children and come and sing, followed by a larger group of children.  The then had two kids one reciting a sanskrit passage that told the story of the two great Hindu epics the story of Rama, as well as the story that the Bhagavad Gita forms a part of.  There was a number of people holding symbols of various religions as they introduced the story of Baha’u’llah and used the opportunity to invite the audience to join in bringing out the highlights of His message.

After some prayers, they had a game of charade with aout half the audience participating.  We had participants from Malaysia, Africa, the US, Europe, Thailand, China, Tiwan, Singapore  and people from several other states from India.  Sometimes they had to translate in more than one language.

Then they were going to serve lunch.  But because of our tight schedule, we left after the program.  We probably will not see the friends again here.  We will probably go to a feast on Nov 22 in Hyderabad where they will be speaking a different language Telugu (that is my mother tongue).

We met Kevin, an American who has been in India for 3 years with his wife Brianna and two kids.  He is involved in getting software companies set up to international standards.  he said his father lived in Oregon many years ago.