Sunday morning....so much to see & tell... it will take me 11,399 words to tell all!
Drove in from Delhi Airport ...no problems with customs or anything & the driver had my sign out, there must have been at least 30-40 signs with different names. so found my driver, took the luggage out to the car, someone pushed in & loaded one of the cases into the boot (trunk) then turned round & wanted a porters tip! ….I gave him a tip told him not to be so cheeky!
Driving in saw people asleep on the side of the road, on the strip that divides the traffic, asleep anywhere, lots of traffic on the road, nice hotel, nice room, unable to get a internet connection, found out this morning I need 7 numbers and on my connect software there were only 6 digits.
This morning after a good sleep tried again sending emails, no luck, so then tried on the hotel computer, replied to someone that wants to swap a flat in London with one in NZ…has possibilities! …told him would reply in Oct!
Had a appointment for a aspiring photog to see me, wants to get out of India & I can understand him wanting to improve his lot told him he would need to find what country he could get into & what qualifications he would needs & then get them! He first thought about this three years ago and thought he could do it with photography…. I opened his eyes… I hope! He is making a living here in typing up medical dictation… does it 8 hours a day 6 days a week collects $US250 per month which is a good wage and comes in each week
Next appointment was with the travel coy, they were to collect me at 12noon…it came & went so back up to the room & fix some of the pix I will be showing in a couple of days and at 12.30 the phone goes & the want me to come round some time ….told them I was waiting so 10 min later a Sikh call to take me to the office… on the top floor 4 stories of course… what elevator?…. marble staircase… Nice young guy goes over my itinerary and it all looks OK so paid him the money… wanted to know why I was travelling by my self…. Told him I could not find anyone to travel with me…. Told me it was a very romantic trip I had booked …told him me & my camera will love it!….. He makes $US150 per month….I will have to tip the driver $US10 per day (X20=200) so the driver makes more than the guy with the college education!
On arrival you normally dislike the third world but after a sleep & a drive thro town it sorts of grows on you….you need not to have high blood pressure for the driving….if that is what they call it…
Have a 2pm appointment that has so far not turned up…rung the number & it has been disconnected so will give him another 30 min & the go out for a walk… if I am game!
Last night the plane flew over a lot of the Russian “stan’s” (Uzbekistan etc) have always wanted to go over these by road…maybe one day!
Wonderful way to go …travel so much you have no clue of what day it is just rung Kodak to organize tomorrow & someone in broken English said “Sunday Closed” ….and I said to myself of course, it is Sunday!!!Just stood outside & watched the traffic go past, lots of OLD buses, lots of scooters, bicycles, bike trucks (bicycles with a tray), Bangkok put-puts, every type of transport… on a scooter! EVERYBODY blowing their horn!
6pm Just had my “Room Boy” in to prepare the bed & room for the evening…. a real hangover from the British! I have been watching a BBC production “Peoples World” about the Japanese & Korean miracles moving from nothing to leading the world…. We all knew about Japan but how the Koreans did it was interesting….they (BBC) make great programs.
Did however get out to visit some studios 4 in all, all are owners of mini labs and have small studios attached. One was a typical photographer & wanted to know all about America ….he is going to LA in a couple of weeks….would like to start a studio there and converts all American money back to Rupees to work out the massive profits he will make… asks what he would be paid in America as a photographer….what the hell do you tell him …he does not have a bulls roar of ever being considered ever if he has 25 years of experience and can outshoot any American! ….in his dreams! …..his studio was a dive & he was talking of modernizing it, but he was in the rich part of Delhi so had plenty of custom with very average photography.
Studio two was a mini lab with a small passport studio attached…it rated "points" because he had two flash units with narrow softboxes…had some photos on the wall done at a seminar he had been to which only emphasized more the size of his studio. They operate in a incredible small amount of space with their mini labs.Studio No three had no lab…had a certificate on the wall indicating he had a Kodak qualification which from what I could gather was handled out with the film. Showed me a picture he had won a certificate from Kodak with…Kodak should be ashamed of awarding them for such rubbish…. However I am a guest in this country I keep repeating to myself.
His studio I think won the contest for the smallest in India and had a single flash bouncing out of a dirty looking brolly. They all seem to have plenty of males lazing about not sure why….maybe it is just what they do!
Studio no four was a different kettle of fish for amenities & gear. Larger studio than the rest but not big by our standards, very clean everywhere, marble floors thro out latest Kodak 20” digital printer a suite of computers, latest Noritsu minilab, scanning, digital they did the lot…made his money with real estate, and a drycleaning business so I guess he will just stay in photography till be blows the lot. Appears to be doing a bit of work for the other pros but looking at what was going thro & his staffing it would appear to have miles more capacity that what he was using!
Driving around it was very very run down the roads, the sides of the roads, on fact it gave the appearance of nobody caring with people just dropping their rubbish where they stand. Plenty of cows wandering about and evidently somebody does own them all ….each cow has a minder who is always following it wherever it goes.
The Kodak guy who was driving me around told me that to own a scooter you would need to earn R5000 per month and a car R20000 per month. Evidently the first if reasonable easy in sales, waiters, and simular and the latter may take ten years to work your way towards. A guy painting the white lines may earn R2000 p/m.
It is very hard to work out values…. I find it hard to think in such low numbers. I had two pairs of slacks shortened & he would not tell me how much, so I guessed R200 and decided to give him R300 & he gave me 100 back! So I decided to give him some dodgy film I had and he need a full docket to accept the film with his name, occupation, what it was, my signature & date. I of course say the reason why, and it was a first…making out a gift invoice….anywhere else in the world they would have just taken it wether you gave it to them or not!
Went downstairs & hired a taxi for the day, next time I will do it by the hour R700 seemed OK at the time
Went into Old Delhi, crowds of people, looked at some camera stores, most were about 6x4 feet and they were all in a bunch, down little alleys, packed in like peas in a pod! Was approach to see if I wanted to buy some silk Saris so I thought why not, so went to one shop found two I liked and started to talk price, he came down to R3200, then tried another & could have got three for R3100 (R4600=$100US) hopefully I will keep the card.
We had parked outside a Sikh temple and the PR person said yes you can park there but look thro the temple when you come back. So it was shoes & sox off and out on the footpath to walk thro the water foot bath to go into the temple, they bow with their head touching the floor like the Muslims, but he assured that in the Sikh religion everyone was equal, men & Women, Black & White and anyone could become a Sikh. They have free food every day, accommodation for travellers, free hospital and assured me the tour was free however as I was leaving he asked me is I wanted to make a donation, I thought they seem to do good so I gave them R300 when he saw the money he said the tour was free & I went to take the money back he said no, no asked me my name & took the money. I think R100 would have been enough.
Then went off back to the hotel & the driver said “this very honest shop, so I had nothing else to do so went in & looked at diamonds, Sapphires, & Emeralds. You would not have liked them he has a square cut 1.15 diamond, faultless, for $3303 a 6.02 a oval Sapphire for $1921 and a heart shaped 2.26 emerald for $3605.
I must check with Neil to see if these are good values. He gave me the square cut to look at & I asked for a lupe & he gave me a 4x I asked for a more powerful one & that impressed him! He wanted to make a deal so I do not know what he would have come down to but it could have been interesting. Evidently India buys the rough diamonds, the small bits that probably no one else wants & they cut them themselves so I guess it would be the cutting labour that would be the cost saving…if there is a saving.
Then they showed me the Kashmir silk Rugs from $600 to $5600 with the difference being in the tightness of the weave of the number of knots per inch. The tighter the weave or the harder it is to see the bottom of the weave the more expensive the carpet is, and of course the material it is made from. The carpet traders seem here to be from the Kashmir area or close in fact the whole of the “carpet” industry in the world is of course mainly Muslim.
These “Honest” shops would have charged me four times the price of the “dishonest” shops in Old Delhi for a length of sari silk! Perhaps the quality would have been different!
The whole of the old town was so crowded it was hard to take photos so it will be interesting how the rest of the trip will go.
Traffic in the old town was quite crowded with everyone continually blowing their horn, I wonder if it would make any difference to progress thro the traffic if they all stopped blowing their horns.
Wed 12th woke up to the world trade centre disaster so where does the world go from here? NZ may be the best place to be! It is the only thing on the BBC news almost no other subject, everything about it and everything evolving from subjects rolling on from it. The whole front page of “The Times of India” was devoted to the disaster.
The tour started today so I had a tour guide & driver saw the Red fort a few of the local places of worship where the shoes were off & on again, the guide suggested I take a rickshaw ride thro the alleys of old Delhi I first thought NO but then thought …perhaps I could get some good photographs so changed that to YES.
Well the guide went off to get a Rickshaw and then called me over & he climbed in as well! Well I would not make a very good Indian because when I looked at the skinny driver I said he is pulling us two …the guide was a big man as well.... he had the good judgment to get another rickshaw saying that I would be more comfortable! Well off we went past lots of good photos but bounced along and I was unable to get a single photo… I would have been better off walking.
I am beginning to be concerned about the Eos 5 ‘s auto focuses ability and the link to the shutter in that it has the ability to fire before focused! …..be careful Ivan with the trigger finger!
Well the rickshaw ride finished as I pulled it over to get off to walk the tour guide said to me to give the driver R100 I heard a discussion & I assumed that they wanted extra for the other rickshaw driver & the guide had said “Share it” …that let’s me know the value of R100! To place a different perspective on this the guide wanted $US10 = R460 to go into see the “tallest stone structure” in the world when it was not possible to go inside the building!
I only shot one roll of film which is normal till you get going. I was taken to a very nice shop where I was shown expensive carpet & wandered thro the four story building…..saw some very nice expensive clothing, some real beautiful multi coloured sari’s, expensive jewellery. About 34 photos taken.
Since being in India I have not been able to log onto the internet to clear my email so yesterday spoke to Xtra in NZ by my Telecom calling card about the phone numbers for India having one digit short but they said “we don’t know anything?”
So I was almost giving up the idea of downloading or sending my email for three weeks when I thought ….if I use my calling card, program the numbers of my access codes & pin numbers along with the NZ Xtra free (NZ) email phone number I could get thro… so it was a matter of working out the numbers of commas, which give pauses, because NZ must first answer, give instructions, then you need to enter more numbers, wait again, enter again more numbers, allow sufficient time for the connection to be made, before it automatically closes down…. so eventually I got it working…. I was quite proud… I had beaten the idiots! Who said “it is not our fault!”…. “Its is not my job!” And all the other copout’s from the people that are there to help you …but do everything else but!
I used this in front of the NZ number 9,0006417,,,,,,,9779505015,,,9945#,,,.
Thursday 13th September
This morning at 5.30am the phone went and a voice said Mr Evan you car is here….. no... there was no warning this would happen so up up and away… no breakfast… out to the next town where my driver for the rest of the trip was waiting to pick me up …did I say waiting… well it was me that was waiting for 45 mins …and that is after my first driver got lost for 20min….but I see a bit of the countryside. My real driver was aware I was a trifle annoyed and I thought that is ok he now has some ground to make up and try to make it up he did!
So we drove thro the Indian traffic …was not that bad…only had one close shave where a scooter almost swerved into our path but we missed him….roads a bit bad in places but I have been on a lot worse.
Stopped for breakfast/lunch at 11am and that was well received. Then it was on thro small dirty villages with tiny shops packed full of goods. I walked thro quite a few….find it is the way of getting photos. OK there is the dirt & the rubbish but why did one leave home if one did not want to see what else there is out there…and you can not take your measures with you, you must step outside you box and experience life…..I guess it is in the raw!
Lots of herds of cows being moved about with some men with magnificent faces & red turbans could have shot them all day.
Saw lots of camels doing all sorts of work, mainly pulling carts loaded with all sorts of products, saw some pulling a one furrow plough, then before we got to the castle there was a camel running with the rider dressed in costume so stop the car….again and some photos….he has a wonderful moustache….which a lot of other Indian men also wear…..some very beautiful Indian girls wandering about ….dressed in Sari’s of course…..but back to the Camel …saw the guy later at the castle he was part of the dressing for effects …three of the guards posed for a photo then one wanted to take a picture of me with the others….must be standard procedure with most of the other tourists….which of course I am!
Had a local guide walk me round the village and the main feature is the design on the houses & the paintings….some of the grand large houses are now empty with the owners having moved to one of the large cities for more business.
Tried a pair of hand made shoes on …they fitted my big toe….they offered to make me a pair that fitted for R800 about US$16 so I collect them in 24hours.
At Castle Mandawa… just come in from dinner in the Castle Garden. Right let me draw you a picture, the Castle is 250 years old built by the ruler of the area and is owned by the seventh generation and they “take paying guests” . in the bed room is a portrait of King George the 6th.
So I am back in the Raj ( when the Brits ruled India) so I dressed for dinner, white shirt, Red Tartan Bow tie, black trows, black shoes …of course. Most of the other guests, sounded like they were German, so of course they did not bother!
You entered the garden thro an arch and there before you was the garden with candle light at each table and lights on all of the battlements all round the garden and in the trees. You sat at the table and the stars were twinkling above soft lights filtered from the candle light & from the weak lights all around the men, who were the waiters, were dressed in the dress from I assume the Raj, there were some small Nepalese who of course served with the Brits. And in this setting you had dinner!
Then of course there is the bedroom you enter thro a pair of very original old doors and just inside the door is a padded mat with three large orange cushions….. and further into the room was a large four posted bed and the decorations of the room were almost out of the Arabian nights would be the best way I could explain it!
At this point of the trip I would not mind wandering thro India for 3-6 months some time….be interesting to see if it the same on day 20. So I finished about four films today.
Friday 14th September
Nothing startling happened today visited 5 villages & I wandered thro taking photogs …one village came across some Gypsy’s …the real things …interesting tattoos on their faces to ward off the evil spirits…. photographed three of the girls for R10, but there was one pretty one & when I indicated I wanted to photograph her the price went up to R20 so I walked away. After a bit I thought I will give them R100 fro unlimited photos …about $US2. Well one family agreed so I shot off about 25 shots which was better than R10 a shot.
I picked up my shoes/slippers and they were a bit tight/small but they may stretch did not have the heart not to take them…he had done a very good job in workmanship.
Bought a silk painting of a Indian man with two monkeys. Started off at R1200 then came down to R800 when he pressed me today I thought …it is worth R600 and they took it without batting a eyelid.
At about 2pm it started raining and it was a bit of a cloudburst …made the street wonderful …cleaned out the fowl smelling gutters….guess in 3 days it will be back to normal.-
Tonight it will be dinner in the garden again at 8pm unless it rains … interesting how all the things the Brits set up are still running. Met the “Local Guide’s” English teacher today…now I understand why he does not speak very good English. He was 80 & I remarked that he had seen a lot of changes…. Said of course you saw the British go…. He said sort of wistfully “they had a very good organization”.
A Aussie & English girlfriend arrived this afternoon…they met in Christchurch NZ.. he is off to England for a couple of years then they will probably go back to his home town in Aust. He is a real Aussie in his speech and she was quite English …she thought I was a Pom & spoke sort of posh English, he tentively guessed NZ!
Then another couple checking in while I was waiting for lunch in the general reception area I noted they had a address on their luggage of Gent/Bruges. So when the wandered thro later I asked them how Gent was? That stopped them in their tracks so had a bit of a chat to them
Well dinner was another out of the box this time up on the roof….with the same performers…by its self it would have been incredible but compared to the garden setting of the previous night it came second.
Had dinner at the Aussie’s table at his girlfriends invitation… they both were on a tour of NZ in March & they were on the same tour & got together when they returned to Auck after going to north cape….Anne turned 30 in Auck so Aussie (I have forgotten his name) invited her out for a drink… they went down to the wharf & the Devonport ferry was just coming in so she said lets go on that.. they did & ended up on Mt Victoria looking at the lights of Auckland supping a beer…I assume…
He was born in Holland went to Aust at the age of 6 yrs and is now a dinkum Aussie.
So with a Dutch passport he was able to follow her to UK …she had just signed a 3year contract & now he has a job as marketing manager travelling the UK.
Anne gets bored so she cruises the Net & booked this 6 day trip to India instead of going to Paris as the had planned. I have the feeling she is the more adventurous of the two….certainly was the better dressed at dinner she was semi formal and he was in shorts & T shirt ….real Aussie formal attire.
In Delhi they were in a Jewellers & she loves Emeralds so they agreed to get their engagement ring there so he left Anne looking at the rings which she was uneasy about & when he came back she told him “I sort of like this one” which to him was not clear enough so he said “what do you mean sort of?” she said well I would wear it everywhere! That being clearer he bought it, and now is keeping it with him till he decides it is time to give her the ring…. She of course would like another look at it and he said NO!
So it was a enjoyable dinner with the three of us having lots of laughs.
Saturday 13th September
8am Left to drive to Bikaner. Good drive… stopped to take about 100 photos on the way. A lot of sand dunes with a type of green stuff growing…. Sand was encroaching on the road in places…. Not much traffic ….lots of women carrying loads on their heads….most have their faces covered….once married only their husband is supposed to see their face…..this is in the countryside…. In larger towns you see a lot of “Faces”
Checked into the hotel for the night….right out of the ‘30’s, quaint shower, all looks clean however. Then went to look the Junagarh Fort started being built in 1589… if you had money then as well as today you can certainly live in style in this country!
Tried to connect to the internet at a internet Café with my laptop …no luck…so used one of their computers cost R60 per hour and all were busy and I say at least a dozen other “Café’s” in town!
The hotel has four rooms and seems to be about 4 or 5 men staff so like most places I assume they are overstaffed. Every town we go thro there are always lots of men sitting or standing talking….I assume it is the women that do all the work! Dinner will be in the garden….but I do not expect it to be fancy…nor will I dress for dinner.
Well one of the staff came to my room with a menu so I placed a order & he told me he would come & collect me when it was ready…..which he did…. Out onto the lawn surrounded by a nice hedge was one table with a table cloth and he was waiting with the chair held out ready for me to sit down…yes I was the only one dining!
Sunday 16th September
Breakfast on the lawn….served by the waiter….I could get used to this life…..no wonder the Brits liked it here.
Drove to Jaisalmer… long uninteresting drive …stopped a few times on the road to photograph kids at R10 a time took several of each for that price….interesting faces, silver ornaments, tattoos quite different the kids in the country…. Delhi belly this morning so had the pleasure of using an Asian toilet with knees that would not bend enough…. To large platefuls of rice I had for lunch should have fixed it & it did! The fort at sunset is supposed to be great but not tonight!
A few camels on the road but nothing like the number that there was in Bikaner.
Dinner for one at the hotel tonight….
Two films used today.
Monday 17th September Jaisalmer
Up at 6am for the sunrise that eventually happened at 6.35…was hoping the fort would look good in the sunrise but the sun was a defused orb …did a couple of shots of that as it breached the horizon but the fort just stayed the same …perhaps I had not paid the correct fees….
Well I have just been inside the fort & walked thro what appeared to be every street in the village outside….NO it is not like London, Paris, Rome or L.A. and if you do not want to step outside your box you live in STAY AT HOME.
It has a series of smells that are all of its own made you from the dung that the many Holy cows and not so holy dogs deposit, to the humans using the drains as toilets, bare backside kids doing their deposits into the drains, tossing rubbish out side the house and the continual dust being swept up by to female sweepers.
Now this is no different to any other village you visit thro out India, but I guess what makes it more noticeable is the fact of it being on the top of a hill surrounded by a wall & all the high density of the houses.
I guess it would be just like one of the villages in UK or Europe in the19th century. Now remember…you did want to travel!
The houses & buildings had a lot of complex carving and design on the outsides and the houses are jam packed into every bit of space inside the only occupied fort in the world. There is more than a fair share of craft shops all wanting you to visit, in fact the place is almost spoilt by the number round almost every corner. Then there are the continual stream of scooters, motorbikes & auto- rickshaw all going full blast with their horns blowing.
Unless you want to walk thro all of the temples (they all start to look the same after the first six of every religion) it will take about 60 to 90 minutes to wander thro the inside of the fort looking for photos….you of course can spend all day if old buildings are you thing and not people like the writer.
They tell me that on India’s Independence this city had no access by roads, rail or airline links so I guess it would have been quite a trip on the back of a camel
Went for a wander into town, collected a A/R (auto- rickshaw ) on the way booked him for 3 hours & went for a walk thro the market place & then a A/R right thro all the streets…that is quite a experience thro one way streets…one way to a A/R that is …horn blasting missing people & objects by mm. It is a must.
Time to go out to the sand dunes at 3pm and the jeep arrived….no seat belts with the way they drive that is not funny but I started with them then the guide & driver got into a deep conversation & I thought …to hell with it so I said STOP… & I climbed out of the car & started walking back to the hotel …in the HOT sun … they followed me & said “we not talk” and I then thought “why should I ride in a vehicle without seatbelts” so I kept on walking…talk about stubborn!
Got back to the hotel & got stuck into a bottle of cold water ….then asked them to sort me out a cab to go to the dunes. I said it must have seatbelts …..them my tour driver arrived….knowing I would be upset & said he would drive me out there… I told him a jeep was on the way…. It arrived …. No seat belts … so I could go with my driver.
Quite a way out there & after a bit of messing round found my camel that had been ordered and up on it I got …up it got and I was away on a fast camel….well a walking one… as we got closer to the Dunes I became a little disappointed …. The ones in China at Dunghung were so much bigger & impressive but onward we rolled with the camel owner leading it with a rope …he asked me if I wanted to try it running ….well walking with the rock was quite hard on the untrained back, but I thought I might as well try it a bit … well he started running and the camel started running…about 1 mph fasted and bump…bump..bump I went in I guess you would call it a saddle! Well he stopped after a bit so that was enough for me.
The sunset point was pretty scungy but with the camels wandering about with riders on I got quite a few good skyline shots & as the sun went lower, with the on the rope & the setting sun between …could be some nice ones. Then the sunset ….without the tourist on a camel & guide that went onto the dune to my front left it would have been useless but I was able to move to include them & there may be some possibility’s.
Back at the hotel the lights were out so it was “candles on” so I dug out my little Chromatek torch, asked for dinner to be by the pool, because of the hot dining room and then the power came on again…but still had dinner by the pool.. … Again I was the only one dining.
Tuesday, 18 September 2001
Got up at 6am wandered about a bit then sat in a swing seat in the shade of a tree & swung back & forth it the silence of the morning… then the hotel manager who was just taking this three year old to school, already learning English, learning the maths…very impressive …the father is looking for a country to move to, as he says a lot of other 30year olds Indian's are considering. Had breakfast then …..
Drove from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur over a road that we went in on quite boring not much to see on the road in or out. The turnoff to Jodhpur on was not much better, found myself falling to sleep with photographic boring scene.
Arrived at the hotel, then on to a internet shop…not like Bikaner where there seemed to be every second shop… found on with one computer which they switched on & took ages to logon & eventually cleared my emails.
Paid the driver for the camel ride last night …he said R300 Lonely Planet says R100….looks like another black mark and that I should be more aware!
Well dinner in the garden as a little mistake tonight…it was mainly set up for the locals to come & drink beer, something they let you find out for yourself, hell another thing you need to ask!!!!!
Took a chance with the Highjacking scare and the possible old X Rays they might of wheeled out & had the 46 films processed in Delhi by the top Pro Lab with the newest gear and I am now scanning the negs, most of the films have bad scratches, almost as if they have been left on the floor for a day, I would have stood a better chance with the X Rays. Looks like it is Digital from now on for me! ....and a excuse for another trip to India .... and you would think I would know better on Labs!!!! Since my return to NZ I have heard ot two people who during the month of October have lost their films due to the fogging of X-Rays one with 36 films and the other with 12 films.... so perhaps scratches are not so bad after all!