Thinking time in India

At last, I have had the pleasure to travel and savour India!

Getting a feel for the country’s landscape is no easy feat! It dramatically changes between city and village as you roll on by, revealing a kaleidoscope of smoke, mirrors and colour. Since an open mind is the wisest mind to have for this part of the world, India can draw many emotions from an over-burdened Western soul; for that alone it can be an enlightening journey!

My green shoes toured thousands of kilometres covering many places and faces. Starting from New Delhi, northern India was unveiled as follows: Mandawa (photos below), Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Khuri, Jodhpur, Ranakpur, Udaipur, Chittogarh, Bundi, Jaipur, Agra and back to New Delhi. From New Delhi, flying south towards Kerala to see Kadalikad, Cherai Beach, Ernakulan, Kumarakom, Munnar and Kochi Forte before returning back to New Delhi. I was also fortunate to have chosen Doha in Qatar for a 2-day stopover, persuaded mostly by a special glass exhibition at the art museum of Islamic art that was most impressive!

So back to India…. The roads defy anything you might understand about travel! It took me some time to live more carelessly amongst the chaos, as do the Indian cows with their invisible karmic force field, protected from the madness.  Everyone is on the road in India, kicking up dust and litter all day that will be settled by dusk, the makeshift bedding under which all India’s animals sleep by the moonlight.

From the very first day in India, my heart never skipped a beat to the noise and mayhem; instead I started to hear a reassuring silence. At one point on the drive to Mandawa, I leaned against the car window, closed my eyes and invited the sun to warm up my chilly European soul! Pleasure, love, desire, what could be, what will be… these are the thoughts from the sun. As the amber landscapes start to unfold before you there is an inescapable yearning for the sun, the blue skies and touching drama.

Glimpse of New Delhi sunshine en-route to Mandawa

Glimpse of New Delhi sunshine en-route to Mandawa

My first night in India started in Mandawa. I fell asleep to the whirring of fans and the faint howling of a dog sat under the stars. I woke up before dawn to the beautiful voice of a man singing not too far away, a Hindu prayer song maybe, then shortly after, the Islamic chants. Indian life unfolds dramatically after morning prayers  and incense burning; taking breakfast with a chai tea is a sociable affair, even the dogs and cows sit by the rickety chairs to take in the warms steam and spicy odours. The barber chairs are full, the camels are steadying their loads and the little fairylights dance along the twisted cables running along the shop hut fronts. This is the special dawn of India. Everyone is warming up, ready for the sun to rise and heat up the senses.

Mandawa

The havelis in India are quite a sight to take in. Some of these gorgeous buildings are in ruin, others brag “golden” rooms with ticket entry of 50 rupees, some are now thriving as hotels and restaurants, some still enjoy their original glory as the family tree blossoms inside them… and if havelis are something of a passion for the image-hungry tourist, then Mandawa seems to please!  The artwork and carvings are fascinating, especially in the courtyards dedicated for sole use by Indian ladies. Clever use of screening, louvre, and patterns etched in wood and stone reveal stories of past lives and events. Painted images are symbols of beliefs, or tokens of welcome, or dedications to gods, or simply enhancements to enjoy the beauty of one’s home.

Mandawa haveli

Mandawa haveli

Mandawa haveli

Mandawa haveli

Mandawa haveli decor

Peacock in Mandawa, a sketch 2012

Mandawa haveli

A Mandawa resident

Mandawa haveli

Mandawa haveli decor

Mandawa residents

Mandawa haveli

A Mandawa resident

Originally published: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 at 17:30 in Living matter, Monologues

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6 Responses to “First 24 hours in India (New Delhi, Mandawa)”

  1. Julia says:

    Wonderful article, great photos – looks a wonderfully dreamy place – a must visit before one pops the final cork 😉 Hugs Jx

    • Thanks J 😉 You’re an avid lover of all things of beauty so I’m honoured you feel something from my images/writing. India is an amazing place but not for the faint-hearted if you really want to ‘taste’ it. I indulged and took my time.

  2. Hypersext says:

    Some lovely photos here. I like the description of the city waking up, shaking off the cold and – perhaps most importantly – taking time to do these things and doing them together. My favourite time of the day, hoary and unshaven as I might often be!

    • Last time I saw clusters of people sharing breakfast and cups of hot brew at the break of day was in Belize mainland, where being “alone” is far from the cockerels dawn chorus. The communal rituals are everywhere in these places, some obvious and others more subtle; togetherness is interweaved through sheer survival of one’s existence and purpose to others. When you walk amongst these communities you become absorbed in the existence of humankind and how you fit in the great jigsaw puzzle… I’m still pondering on that one!!

  3. Archie says:

    J…took me straight back to India..you capture it so perfectly..evocative..you can smell and taste it all.
    What a treat you both were out there. Hope you can stay in our lives

    • Evocative, yes! India is a feast for our senses and so much more than just a destination. Even as I reply to you I am only just really understanding the fragility and beauty of human interactions. India reminded me to share all what I have and to brave the unknown! Love to you and Alexis, and let us share the sun once again!

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