For this walk through, we’ll stay in India but shift gears completely. My favorite aspect of my tour with Intrepid Travel was the ability to go to small towns that were totally and completely off the beaten path. I was impressed that Intrepid found this little town and that we got to spend a day and evening there.
For India, a city or town of 1 million people isn’t much to get excited over, yet most people in India still live in small villages like Madhogarh, which is close to a slightly larger town called Bassi in Rajasthan (Some info on Bassi). I have to say that this was probably one of my favorite walks of the entire trip.
A street in Madhogarh. Our guide, Pancham, walks ahead
Like any small town, you’re going to see your share of animals everywhere. Contrary to my big city girl persona, animals in the street remind me of my trips to the Caribbean when I was younger. Here in Madhogarh the animals were just a tad different.
A mini-boar, I think
There were peacocks everywhere! This was one of at least five that we saw during our hour-long walk. Peacocks are the national bird of India.
Of course, we met the local cows. I have to say that India has the chillest cows, and do you blame them? If I knew I could just chill wherever I went, I’d be pretty relaxed, too.
At the beginning of our walk, we kept hearing, “Picture, please! Picture, please!” We looked down and saw these very cute children. They were really into posing for pics. Really. I will get into a discussion about picture taking in this post. I know that it can be a sore subject with many travelers, travel bloggers and writers, and I do want to address this a little. Can we all agree that they are too cute, though? Can we?
One thing that I should have been a “Duh! How could you NOT know this, Terri?” moment was the fascination that many residents of Madhogarh would have with our digital cameras. These two kids kept asking for picture after picture and loved seeing their faces on our camera screens. We eventually had to move on.
Ms. A of Team Ozzie sharing her camera.
The houses that we did get to see ranged in size and shape. If I remember correctly this is the house of a local potter. You can see his work at the side of the house.
We proceeded to a more central part of town and ended up in front of local school. One of the local water pumps is actually right in front the school building.
Water can a major issue for Rajasthan because it is so dry and arid there. Large parts of the State are actually desert. During our drives and train rides, it was common to see people (okay, women) walking for miles to access water. From a variety of conversations I had during my tour, I found out that many Indians in smaller villages still don’t have access to running water and toilets in their homes. I’m not sure that this is fact, but one woman I met who was working on water issues in India mentioned that more Indians had access to mobile phones than toilets. India is such a place of contrasts, and I hope to talk about this more in other posts.
Here’s the local school, which wasn’t in session at the time. Actually, it was never really clear to me what the general school calendar was because sometimes we saw children going to school and other times we didn’t. We were there towards the end of summer.
Access to primary/elementary education is still a challenge for some in India. One of the most fascinating articles that I read while there talked about the fact that girls often don’t go to school because there are not girls bathrooms, and many local schools have not built facilities for them. Some also face discrimination from their male classmates. Again, being one of the more “traditional” states, Rajasthan was high on the list for not having high rates of school attendance for girls.
Madhogarh’s primary school
It’s not all far from bad. As a whole, more kids of both sexes are going to school at higher rates than ever before in part with the help of government programs. I have to admit that I saw so many advertisements for schools of all kinds, and I know that education is highly valued in India.
Moving away from the school, we got closer to the main road through town. Many of the transportation options we saw in rural India were makeshift. I’m going to give folks so many props for their ingenuity. This truck below is actually fashioned from a tractor. It uses a tractor’s engine and other wooden planks to make a bed for transporting large items. Cars are expensive for many people in India, and folks figure out a way to handle their business and get where they need to go.
Since there aren’t very many inexpensive transport options, motorcycles are usually the mode of transport of choice.
These guys managed three on a bike. I think the most I saw was four. Often whole families ride motorcycles to get where they need to.
Before I talk about these next set of pictures, I want to say something. I want to personally thank the people of Madhogarh for allowing me to take their picture. Actually, several of the pictures here were requests by the people in them. Again, some of us may think that a digital cameras as rather ho hum, but the people we encountered at Madhogarh that day were very excited to see instantaneous images of themselves.
When approaching people, I made sure to do the following things:
1) Make eye contact and smile.
2) Point to my camera in a questioning way (Facial expressions are pretty universal).
3) If they gave the okay, I snapped one very quick picture.
4) I would bow and say “Dhanyavad” (Thank you in Hindi). I bowed very much in India. I felt very humbled that I was allowed to capture these images on my camera. I bowed as a sign of respect to these very friendly and open people.
Okay. So during our walk we met a wedding party. Team Ozzie and I saw so many weddings during our two weeks traveling together. I believe it was an auspicious time of year for weddings. This wedding party was coming from another town where they had the actual marriage ceremony. After the initial ceremony and celebration, they move on to the bride or groom’s town and spend time there for a particular period before going to establish their own household.
The groom is in the center with the garland.
The wedding party enjoyed taking a look at Ms. A’s camera.
These ladies asked me to take their picture. I love their outfits.
This little boy below was a complete charmer. He practiced his English language skills with us. I think he’s going to be a total ladies’ man when he gets older.
This grandfather wanted me to take a picture of him with his granddaughter. I found that most little girls in India have short hair. The black mascara-looking eye salve is used to block the sun and to keep away bugs.
I’m working on getting these pictures printed out so that I can send them to Intrepid in the hopes that they can get these pictures to these village residents.
Our last stop allowed us to pass by this bangle maker’s shop. They were handmaking bangles that they would sell later in larger towns. There are actually whole portions of markets in some Indian towns dedicated solely to bangles.
I definitely bought a few (okay, more like four..they were only 100 rupees, about $2 USD based on the exchange rate at that time). Because I’m clumsy a few have broken already, but I still wear them.
What a walk, right? We finally made it back to our home for the evening, Fort Madhogarh, but that’s for another post…..
When you travel, do you prefer visiting cities or the countryside?