January 21st, 2010 by Cyrus
India is crazy. There are stray dogs and holy cows (cows are sacred in the Hindu religion) roaming the streets, open sewers and trash everywhere. India is the country with the 2nd most people, behind China. India’s population is about 1,198,000,000, so there are people everywhere. There isn’t a lot of privacy in India; people take baths on the street. Some people live in tents made from scavenged tarps and bamboo sticks, while others live in mansions. India is smelly, loud, religious, colorful, beat-up, delicious, crammed, friendly, and dirty; it is the wildest country I’ve been to so far.
We took a two week tour of Rajasthan, a state in Western India. We started in Delhi, the capital of India. My family and I loaded up a huge silver van with our many bags. We climbed into the van and met Mr. Singh, our huge Sikh driver, and his assistant. There were 10 seats in the huge van, so with Cruz, Bella, my mom, my dad, my grandparents, and I there were seats to spare. We also met our travel agent’s mother. We where going to drop her off at Agra, our first destination.
We drove over windy roads, dodging holy cows. Cows are everywhere, from laying in the middle of the road to digging in trash dumps. The cows don’t belong to anyone; it is against the Hindu religion to kill cows, so cows that stop producing milk are abandoned to the street. Stray dogs drink from the open sewers on the street. There where animals everywhere. I saw many animals on the road: donkeys, cows, antelope, monkeys, dogs, a cat, birds, etc. People were also on the roads. Kids played cricket, an English game like baseball, on the cracked roads. Poor people dug through the trash dumps, searching for things they can sell and/or eat. Farmers walked down the streets, selling their colorful produce. Tuk-tuks (auto rickshaws) full of people drove by. We hopped from town to town, seeing sites along the way.
Most of the sites were amazing. We saw many forts; I was forted out by the end of the two week trip. About half-way through the trip I didn’t want to see any more forts – it was to much! The most spectacular fort was in Agra, called Agra Fort. It was built by a Mughal emperor. It had a moat, which was a river that was diverted to go around part of the castle, and two extra-thick walls, so if the enemy got over the moat and breached the first wall, they would be stuck between the two walls were elephants, tigers, wild boars, and other wild animals were kept. The wild animals were kept there to fight, entertaining the royal people. The stone carvings and inlayed stones in the Agra fort were astonishing; they were very intricate and flawless.
The Taj Mahal, also in Agra, was something else. It was huge and the 4 big reflecting pools around it made it seem bigger. The Taj Mahal’s 4 minarets almost touched the sky, and it’s the marble glimmered in the sun. The Taj Mahal was amazing, but the carvings weren’t too great. The baby Taj on the other hand, the carvings and inlays were incredible. The baby Taj was almost exactly like the Taj Mahal, but smaller (baby Taj). The carvings and inlays were a lot better in the Baby Taj than the Taj Mahal.
We ate at many restaurants; the varieties of Indian food was staggering, from aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) to palak paneer (spinach and cheese, also known as saag paneer). North Indian food is very rich and spicy. It is usually eaten with rice or chapati, a tortilla-like food that you use as a spoon. The Indian food was delicious, but now I’m sick of Indian food – it’s a little too rich.
When we were in a small town called Mandawa, I met a kid named Krishna. When I first met Krishna, he gave me string for a kite I had just bought, then he ran off. The next day Krishna was at my Hotel, waiting for me. I went to his house and met his extended family. After I finished saying “Namaste” (hello and goodbye in Hindi – Namaste means “I bow to the god within you”) to all his family members, I went on the roof with Krishna. He had loads of kites, and he taught me how to fly them. All the kids in the neighborhood were out flying their kites, practicing for the big kite festival, that was on January 14th (one month from then). Krishna showed me how “cut” other peoples kites. You made your kite-string rub against the other persons string; the person who broke the other persons string won. Krishna was very nice; I really enjoyed flying kites with him.
We went to a Jain temple, it was fabulous. It was made from marble and was two stories high. It had lots of carvings of Jain stories in the temple. There were also many statues of Jain gods and prophets. We went to many temples, but they were mostly Hindu. We ended our trip in Udaipur, the town we’re in now and we will stay in for 2 months. I really enjoyed our tour of West India, it was fun and educational.