April 2018
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Month April 2018

so 2

Still plugging away

Walking back from the pub tonight I was thinking about riding and traffic in India. 5 months isn’t enough to talk about bigger stuff yet, although that’s what occupies the mind.

So, just rattling off stuff:

  1. Pedestrians have no rights. Zero.
  2. The traffic isn’t madness. The opposite in fact. I even have a name for it: Homogeneitraffic. Cool, huh? The first thing is that the accident rate, same as Indonesia, is (I’m guessing) lower than at home, despite the fact it looks like a video game. And the evidence of this are the mothers, children and even babies on the back of scooters and motor with no helmets. They’re safe. Because in a country with a long history of a single people densely interacting with each other there’s harmony. They’re chill. As simple as that. Even in the most dire road circumstances, you just don’t see stress. They make their presence known when closely maneuvering with the horn, which means “I’m here”. However no one is a bigger critic of the overall complexity of the experience than an Indian. They bitch about it all the time. But their ¬†doesn’t cause them them to be frustrated to the point that they feel stress, which is common to, say, Vancouver.
  3. Out in the country there’s a different thing because of the buses and trucks. They are higher up the food chain and have road priviledges. They’re coming through, get out of the way. No problem.
  4. Good thing I didn’t listen to any of the people who said ride a small bike in India. Bullshit: you would go nowhere fast and get eaten alive by the crowds of similar sized bikes, having no advantage and none of the experience or harmony. Bring a big enduro and have road presence, power and options. The HP2 has been in its element here.

However where I’m headed is maybe the place place on earth for her, which is what led me to write this.

and so…

After G went back, I dove into my new project. But I’ve barely left my hotel room.

I’m decamping from India, the rainy season is almost on us here, and moving to a new location. A secret, until I get there, about another 10 days, assuming no other complication arises.

My new destination, and the route, are planning intensive. I’m deep in shipping stuff, map data, rules and regulations, and applications. Plus there’ll be a big gear change.

I’m really looking forward to it.

I have a good idea about how I’ll return

The next 3 to 5 months here will be monsoon, and there’s another way to paint the big picture. But more than anything else, I want to really ride again, in a bigger way.

So, route drama ahead.

jaipur 2

So here I am, back on the roof of the hotel in Bangalore

Miss G touched down at Heathrow an hour ago, half way home. We were up again this morning at 3:45 am to get to the airport. Early morning flights out of Bangalore are rough. But G commented on the same thing I’ve noticed: the airports and flights here run with impressive precision

Jaipur was, as I warned G might happen, a survival story. It’s a city of stone structures and the heat radiated off everything. You stand in the shade and you got cooked anyway.

Some we did what the other tourists did and ventured out for 4 hours in the morning and 3 or 4 hours at night. G spent a lot of time in the hotel pool.

The Jaipur monuments were beautiful, like the Royal Palace

The astronomy observatory

Gatore Kichatriyan

And the walk at dusk up the hill to the Hanuman temple

Walking around town

And we learned some history.

Despite all of that, Varanasi more than made up for Jaipur, and G and I had an unexpected, spontaneous and fantastic holiday. And she goes back tan, well fed, but will probably sleep for a week.

That was probably the briefest wrap up ever done, but now at this end things get serious as the ride changes gears entirely and I get buried in logistics.

p.s. this was creepily metronomic, from my hotel room window:

jaipur 1

(very short update)

A horrendous start out of Bangalore, up at 3:45 am.

Arriving in Jaipur at 10:30, very busy

J: It is very very hot. The weather online says 38/39, accuweather says 39/40 but I find that hard to believe. I’ve been above 40 twice, once in Chiapas, Mexico, and once in Australia, and this feels way hotter. There’s no way you can venture out between 2 and 5.

A short tour of the Pink City

Lots like this

G: One of the textbook pictures I had seen in my research of Jaipur, which is in fact – just a facade with no actual building behind it.

J: We headed off to the Amber Palace. A touristy elephant ride to the top. There were hawkers everywhere and hundreds of white tourists. It was hard work keeping them out of the shots.

Which went like this. It was slow fun.

View of the town in the valley bowl, surrounded by a battlement along the hilltops enclosing the entire valley

Here’s a famous thing, often used in MC Escher books to illustrate one of his influences

Which led to this

A pond below with water buffalo cooling off. It’s very hot, limiting our day to about 4 hours in the morning and 4 in the evening

Small temples with monkeys, cows and pigs


Why not

J: Jaipur is famous for its jewelry. We went to the top manufacturer to get a small piece. G tried on a necklace priced at a million $US. He had another like it in rubies. They sell these for weddings. Tons of money here.

G: Not seen: me pooping my pants as somebody informs me $1,000,000.00 is on my neck.

Jaigagh Fort

G: This area was filled with water previously, so that as the cannon (biggest on wheels in the world) was set off the person could run and jump in… hopefully saving themselves from any repercussions of the cannon. It was only ever fired once, at a distance of 20 miles, as a test.

J: A beautiful skytop garden. Used in Bollywood movies. If you’re wealthy enough you can rent the whole fort.

G: This is the future location of my future wedding, thanks in advance, Dad!!

The view down to Jaipur, roasting in the heat

Somewhat like El Alto, Bolivia, but without the fighting Cholitas

On another hilltop, a huge Air Force radar installation

In this fort they had s single tourist thing. This is how Justin-the-idiot should have done it, and stopped. G was resistant but quickly warmed to the idea

“OK Justin, pick up that sword, pajama boy”

“Yay Dad! Boo pajama boy!”

A mongoose

varanasi wrap up

G asleep.

The idea of catching up on detailed Varanasi stories is now most probably, officially, toast. We’re already a day into Jaipur, a couple of flights away.

We hit Varanasi hard, it’s hot and after both the heat and the famous freneticism there’s not much energy left for luxuries like blogging. Sleep, food and short after lunch naps are the priority.

The area of intensity in Varanasi is quite small, just 7 kms by 1.5 kms. The idea is to explore all of that. There may be places in Africa, perhaps Cairo, with occasional patches of similar intensity, but it’s unlikely. So far in my travels it’s unique for unrelenting sensory input. The core story, a 4000 year occupation, the heart and soul of Hinduism, Mother Ganges, the 8000 temple deities in walls, on corners, the shit, the cows, the colour, the living, the dead and the dying. There’s nothing like it and IMO is a must visit, twice probably, maybe spaced a couple of weeks apart. I’ve found that the places I’ve loved were much more rewarding the second time.

G was fantastic. I was concerned that she’d find the heat too much to deal with and the mandatory complete immersion overwhelming. But no, not at all. She loved it and even thrived on it. It was so satisfying that it worked out this way.

Maybe we’ll catch up after G goes back to Vancouver in a week, but like catching up on Kazaranga, it’s a long shot.

But outside of the wonderful chaos, on the last day we went into the countryside to a more remote Shiva temple

Inside an inner temple

After the video below, I was instructed to move beside her, camera off, and the Brahmin priest came in from an outside courtyard and G was surrounded, in this small space by 6 men, chanting at maximum volume, that Shiva would give her a good life, for 15 long minutes. It was a privilege for her and an extraordinary experience.

The initial blessing to Shiva before the ceremony started

Here’s another one of a 17 year old village girl applying her henna

And taking a selfie in the village women’s day room

another bookmark

Travel day, posts mostly produced and in the hopper. One day this blog will be swamped with posts.

Out in the countryside

G: Grade 5 here.. learning English! They had an animation of “itsy bitsy spider” on an iPhone screen playing. Tempted to go in with the whole song and dance (hand actions included) but the part of me that gets shy won out and I just stood at the back of the class.. it’s the frisbee situation all over again!!

buying posting time, behind because

J: Well, today, back in Bangalore, we had a change of plan. No way can we get up at 3:45 am for a 6:10 flight tomorrow to our next destination. We’re wasted. So we had to shuffle everything around, get new flights and adjust hotel bookings. Not hard at all usually, but this is India, and things that are arranged like to stay arranged just as they are. But done now.

G: All done with very little effort by myself.

J: So here’s a fun video, since the blog won’t be updated today. This is normal Varanasi after 7:30 pm. Check for the bouncing baby starting at 0:31

G: re video below, I feel like I’ve heard so many people talk about their “bad parent”¬†moments, hopefully this puts some minds at ease… babies are meant to bounce, right?

J: More babies. My motofriends can skip this one

back to bangalore

J: Varanasi was great, the plan went to perfection, but we need a rest. Catch-up posts within 28 hours most probably. Posting from the Varanasi airport pub.

G: ded.