Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back in Delhi

Since I posted last, we haven't had access to the internet. But we toured Goa with

Savio and Ashwin (part of the package Nishant arranged),

met a bunch more interesting people, including Yakub, a South African businessman

who was buying maerial in Bombay, flew to Bombay, then got picked up by Surendra and driven to Pune (pronounced there 'puna') where we toured Philip Jose's (remember him, he was taking his grandfather back to Kerela after the housewarming) rubber factories

and new house and met his parents, wife, brother, and brother in law.

The next day we drove to Ajanta Caves and the next day to Ellora Caves.
I can't believe that everyone knows about an erector set tower in Paris, but hardly anyone knows about these two sets of caves.

Though cave is hardly the right description.

These are temples carved into solid rock over about 900 years altogether. More on this later. In fact, we leave India for the US tomorrow night and we've barely scratched the surface of India, and this blog has barely scratched the surface of our trip.

I'll try to put some of the better pics and interesting stories up in the next couple of weeks when we get home. A couple of pics in the mean time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Catchup pictures

Salesmen in a sandal/shoe shop in Jaipur clowning for the camera.

Raghu, the owner the of place we stayed in Pushkar. We talked about the problems of tourism on this holy lake town.

Thapa and Thomas worked at the Illikkalam Lake Resort in Kummarakom. I guess Thomas was shy. And this computer is uploading really slow. So, Thomas will remain hiding til later.

Our driver Pawan.

Bambolim Beach Resort

The 'resort' in Goa is quite nice. I'll try to get some pictures up. The colonial architecture and rich colors - yellows, brick reds, organges, whites - along with the lush tropical vegitation and beautiful blue pool are a nice relaxing respite. And we are on an almost deserted beach. The place hovers between elegant and shabby. Most of the guests are Indian. We met a young couple from Bangalore. Sareem is going to Chicago for three months late Dec. or early Jan. We also met an interesting Iranian couple. Both have spent considerable time in their lives outside of Iran. She's an architect and he's an academic who is currently a lecturer in Delhi. Ramin Jahanbegloo was released in September from four months in prison in Teheran. You can read more about it in the link. We had hours of interesting discussion. He's doing work on Gandhian non-violent ways of dealing with conflict as well as looking at the larger issue of cultural conflict and ways to reduce such conflict.

[Note: I posted pictures later at Bambolim Beach Resort.]

India Road Motto: Blow Horn

If we want to find some mottoes for India, Blow Horn would certainly be one. Not only is this motto plastered on the back of most trucks, every other vehicle driver practices it religiously. Basically it appears a way of saying, I'm behind you (or passing you) and I want you to move over or just know I'm here. There's no malice.

There is also the variation "Horn Please." In Kerrela we also saw, "Sound Horn."

See follow-up post Awazdo.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Quickie from Goa

I'm in the 500 year old house of the travel guy Kenneth who picked us up atthe airport. It's huge, with very high ceilings. He's getting our credit card imprint. We met an Indian-American couple - Alex and Neetu - at the Kochi airport this morning. They are visiting relatives for two weeks, covering some of the same ground we have. Will post their pic soon. The airport guard told me pics were forbidden after I took it. They were on a connecting flight toi Delhi. We had 4 hours till our flight to Goa. So we walked to a Shiva temple someone in an airport shop told usabout. I don't know how to describe it. You walk past a numberof little exhibits about Shiva's life. 10 Rupees for flowers, 2 more to store your shoes, 20 more to go thru this grotto like space below the statue of Shiva (areally big statue). The grotto was a little like a Halloween haunted house - cave like.
Then 40 more Rupees to get coins to put into 109 cups while chanting a mantra.

I don't really know what it all means. It was connected to Kemp Fort Departmentstore where we were almostthe only customers and I bought a shirt. The guy there says the man who owns the store also owns the temple and the profits of the store go tothe temple.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Illikkalam Resort Kummarakom - Backwater

Here's an early morning view from our cottage. We were glad to see the rain had stopped and we were seeing blue sky for the first time since we got to India. Not that it has been cloudy, just the 'fog' and pollution hid the sky in the North.

We walked to the bird sanctuary thru the delightful village and canals.
Part of the sanctuary tour included a ride in a pole boat.


Taking pictures of camels and camel carts from a moving car is not easy. When Pawan finally stopped and let me out to take a picture - it was a great one - I guess I didn't push the button hard enough. Any way, here are some camel pictures between Bharatpur and Jaipur. As you can see, in Rajastan at least, camels are still an important means of transportation - even on the main highways.

Taking Grandfather Home

We met Philip Jose on the plane from Mumbai to Kochi. He was taking his grandfather (88) back home after a celebration in Mumbai. Philip is headed to Ohio soon to meet with manufacturers of plastics. He works six months in India and six months in Dubai.

Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal

Jantar Mantar means - according to one of the guides leading one of the German or British tours - calculating tools. This is the observatory in the old town of Jaipur. It was begun in 1728 and has the world's largest sun dial as well as smaller ones. What was cool was that the shadows fall on arches on the sides of the 'needle'. The arches are marked off in to show hours and minutes, and the one I saw was exactly right to the minute. (you have to add 11 minutes)

There are also constructions to track the stars and planets. All very amazing.

Right near by is the Hawa Mahal (Hawa = wind, Mahal = palace). This one was built with lots of little holes so the women, who were not allowed out, could still view the street outside. These pictures give you just a tiny peek into the fantastical architecture of Jaipur. This computer is impossibly slow. Not even sure these pics will load.

Call Center Workers

We started talking to two young men yesterday as we were getting on the ferry from Fort Cochin back to Ernakulum (same emphasis as binoculars). They are studying English and are hoping to becom call center workers because the money is good. I asked how much. They said 20,000 Rupees a year. Now, I'm not sure I got this right because that is only about $500. Less than $2 per day, which is one of the measures of poverty. But Nishant had told us earlier that a family could live on 15,000 Rupees a year and our driver said he made 1500 per month.

Stamp collector, House names

As we walked back from the bird sanctuary in Kummarakom, a young man asked - as does everyone else - "What country?" The short story is that he collects stamps and so here's his address. If you have old stamps from envelopes sent to you, send them to him. Geeno is the one in the middle in back in the blue shirt, with his aunt, uncle, cousin, mother, and grandmother.

Geeno P. Teny
Kumarakom PO

The Para... is a 'housename'. Someone else mentioned housenames to us. We also heard a little bit about housenames in China. If anyone knows more about house names, post a comment and enlighten us all.

Where the hell are they?

I figured it was time to give you a sense of where all we are. We started in Delhi - upper left/middle of the map.

1 - trip to Amritsar and back (train)

2 - to Agra (Taj Majal) (by car)

3 - to Bharatpur (bird sanctuary)

4 - to Jaipur (I'll try to post pics, but this computer is slow)

5 - to Pushkar - the holy lake - then back to Jaipur and Delhi

6 - fly to Kochi (was Cochin) (with a stop in Mumbai (was Bombay) taxi two hours to Kummarakom for two nights, then back up to Kochi where we are now. About 4 hours flying time total.

7 - tomorrow we are scheduled to fly to Goa with a stop in Bangalore. We'll relax at the beach for 6 days there.

8 - fly to Mumbai, we immediately drive to Aurangabad on Nov 27 to see the Ellora and Ajanta caves nearby

Then back to Delhi on Nov 30 and leave for LA on Dec. 1 at 11:35pm if all goes well

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kumarakom, Kerala

No internet for two days. We are in southern India now - Kerela
State near Cochin, now Kochi - and it is a totally different world.
Here it is more like rural Thailand and much less crowded, much more
prosperous. And the sky is blue, though it wa raining when we arrived
yesterday. Went to the bird sanctuary this morning at 7 and went out
in a little boat, a man with a pole, and our guide pointed out
and named various birds. Very enjoyable and relaxing. Can't add any
more pictures now because I didn't bring the connector.

I do want to mention the other parts of the travel - getting from place to place. It took 6 hours to go the 325 km (about 200miles) from Jaipur to Delhi - about 2 hours spent on the last 50 km (30 miles) getting into Delhi.

Then yesterday we were up at 5:30am, picked up at 6 and to the airport, where our flight out was delayed an hour. Stopped in Mumbai (Bombay) and then to Kochi (Cochin). Philip Jose sat next to us on the second part of the flight, accompanying his grandfather home. He was a wonderful introduction to Kerela and gave us his cell number if we had any problems.

Nishant, as always, was fantastic. He had everything planned out. (He has the blog address now so I can ony say good things. :) ) If you read this Nishant, our phon isn't able to call out. It does seem you called.

It was raining, but we were picked up and driven to Kochin where the travel agent got out - he needed 800 more than the original price, to pay for the taxi from the Kochi hotel to the airport - and then we drove about 2.5 hours more into little back villages to Kumarakom, where our 'hotel' is a beautiful little cottage on the lake. This is where people boat back into the canals, and we have lovely little spot in a locally owned place that is not much more than someone's lot that added these first class bungalows. Dinner was made to order and brought to our porch where we ate looking over the dark lake. At less than $40 a night it is a bargain compared to the international hotels nearby that are $180 on up. Nishant, you did a great job.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Back to Jaipur, Israeli tourists in Pushkar

A quickie. Up by 7am, walked around the holy lake at Pushkar. Had breakfast overlooking the lake then took off our shoes to walk over the holy bridge to the ghats where pilgrims come to bathe in the river. Sat and talked to Raghu, the owner/manager, not totally sure which, of the Rhagav Resort. About the impact of tourism on Pushkar (mostly bad he thought), why he doesn't have fruit trees (monkeys and peacocks eat the fruit), and the growing gap between rich and poor in India.

An interesting note on Pushkar is the number of Israeli tourists (and this is a backpacker hangout). While we first noticed Hebrew books for sale and a Hebrew sign on a shop, it really sank in when all the keyboards in the internet shop had Hebrew letters painted or pasted on them.

We are back in Jaipur, staying in a plush hotel with a beautiful garden and pool that we used this evening. After our spartan but beautiful digs in Pushkar (our room had windows and balcony all around, but the bathroom was basic and this morning I had to get water with a bucket (let's me feel how many Indians live), Joan walked into our room here and said, "I liked Pushkar better."

Gotta run.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Keoladeo National Park

Here are some pictures from the park.
Our guide was Satto (pronounced Shatto) and he warmed up to us slowly and the second day we went looking for the night jar
the owl. You can tell which one is the owl. The other is the nightjar. And there is an antelope.

While I'm waiting for the pictures to download, I want to tell you about camels. We've moved into camel territory and we shared the road yesterday (two lane highway)with trucks, busses, bikes, motorcycles, horse carts, and lots and lots of camel carts. And people were passing three abreast. Our driver is extremely cautious, which is good. And he wears his seatbelt all the time, and stays within the 80km (about 48mph) speedlimit.

More From Pushkar, More on Maps

Here's the "Hotel Raghav Resort" in Pushkar, Rajastan. Joan is locking our door that opens to the rooftop 'garden' with a great view of Pushkar.

The place we stayed at by the bird sanctuary was one we found in Lonely Planet. It was really nice as you can see in the photo. Well, you can't really see the garden and the nice arched sitting patios with beautiful marble tiled floors.
As I said, Pawad was not happy. The place that was reserved for us in Jaipur was another company guest house that Nishant arranged. Despite the fact that it was in a non-descript street, it had nice furnishings in the lobby and was very clean. Our room was spartan, but clean. We've learned to ask for a second towel, how to turn on the hot water ("it comes on at 4am"), and for a top sheet. (In the Indian guest houses they just have a blanket without a top sheet.) They were very nice and brought all that and toilet paper too. But the window was tiny and the room was dark. As we changed plans and decided to scrap going to Jodhpur, I pulled out Lonely Planet and called two places (the first was full) and made reservations for tomorrow night. I called Nishant and told him and we talked a little about Pawan's need for commissions. Nishant thought skipping Jodhpur was a good idea (not that it should be missed, but we would be driving too much). Anyway, we wanted to go by and check the place out. I had a map in the Lonely Planet and we figured out where we were. Pawan asked someone directions and was told to go left where I thought we should go right. I said, I think this is wrong. We drove ten minutes, asked a couple more times. We got to the road - Ram Singh Highway. But we needed Jai Singh Highway. I told Pawan the difference. He asked a cop who pointed in the direction I wanted. From then he let me tell him where to turn and we got there pretty quick. It is a beautiful old, huge home with a nice swimming pool in the back. Talked to the lady about maps and she just said, Indians don't use maps, they ask. I mentioned what the bookseller had said about getting opportunities to help people, and she smiled wryly, and said, well, I don't know about that. They just don't use maps. (She was Indian.)

Birding at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Dianne, here's the list for you. Much of what the park is famous for is missing because water has been diverted for irrigation for farmers. So the wetlands are mainly drylands. All the waterfowl that usually stop off here from Siberia (cranes) and from Africa are elsewhere because there are no wetlands here.

We went out the first evening from 3-6 and saw:
jungle babblers
Rufous tree pie (This was one I caught a picture of at JNU)
Lesser Golden woodpecker
Scops Owl
Red vented Bulbul
Bromely starling
While breasted watrhen
White cheeked bulbul
spotted owlette
Rosering parakeet (they are actually all over India)
white throated kingfisher
chip-chip (need to look up the right spelling)
plain plenia (again need to check spelling)
Indian Roller (Blue Jay)
Orange headed ground thrush - well, I saw it, and the guide identified it as a Siberian visitor that is rare, but I couldn't really tell what I saw

Some animals that day were antelope, spotted deer, Indian soft shelled turtle, and a golden jackel (very cool, the last one)

The next day we went from 6:30-9:30am. We didn't see a lot of new ones, but went looking for and found:
a long tailed night jar
dusky hawk owl

Both were amazing. The owl more so because we really went chasing it. We saw a glimpse, then it flew away. We found it again and it flew away. And once more. The parakeets and crows were harrassing it. Then the guide found it again and it just sat there staring at us as we stared back in the glasses. He was incredible - those big yellow eyes.

The Golden Temple Amritsar

Catching up with some pictures of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Thank you Sanjit for making sure we came here.

Look up Jaipur on Google

We are in Pushkar now. a tiny - by Indian standards - town around a lake. Staying in an old house with a roof top patio shaded by a huge tamarind tree. In Jaipur yesterday we decided to cut out Jodhpur - just too much driving. We are also learning to work with our driver. Nishant has said it was our trip and the driver should not be steering us to his guides so he can get a commission. He insisted yesterday we get a guide in Jaipur while I kept saying that it would be dark soon after we arrived and it didn't make sense to pay for half a day. We got to the city palace parking lot at 3:50pm and met the guide. He said the things to see would close at 4:30, but we could photograph from outside. I said, no, we don't need a guide. Joan and I went into the Palace ourselves. Think about there being a city equivalent, say to Vienna, that you had never heard of. Jaipur is an old Moghul city with fantastic buildings lining the streets. Perhaps a mile or two of the same facade in dark pink in a wonderful facade all its own. The palace hinted at an opulence and sophistication equal to any European court. How much we don't know about the parts of the world we dismiss as 'third world.' Later we insisted on stopping the car so we could walk around. We ended up buying some slippers for each of us and a silver necklace and bracelet for Joan.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Birders' Inn, Bharatpur, Rajistan

The day before yesterday was the ride from Delhi to the Taj Mahal. Our driver, Pawan, speaks enough English, that at first meeting, and compared to Sanjay, who works for Nishant, he sounded pretty good. But soon it became clear he is restricted mainly to nouns and adjectives, and not too many of those.

Last night the cell phone somehow didn’t charge right and we weren’t sure what the arrangements were. We were scheduled to stay in Bharaptur where there is a National Park and bird sanctuary. We weren’t sure if Nishant had booked a place or not. Pawan wanted to know – he had to pay a tax for taxis as we changed from Uttar Pradesh state (where Agra is) to Rajistan state where we are now – so he could tell them how many days tax. Anyway, we pulled out our Lonely Planet India and decided to go for Birder’s Inn which sounded nice (“good bathrooms”) and was near the entrance to the park. We found it, they had a charming room, a large garden, and we’re here. Pawan said I should look next door at the Sunbird which was the same price (1200 Rupies - @ $30). I think maybe he could get a commission there or the drivers rooms were better, but the room for us was definitely nicer here. [Later I asked the hotel people and they confirmed they don't pay commissions to drivers, but they do provide a bed and meals.] And I can use their computer. So I’ve downloaded the pictures to my flash drive and I’m waiting for the internet to work again. This afternoon at 3 we have a guide to take us thru part of the park. The park used to be known for Siberian storks, but since the fall of the Soviet Union, hunting bans have not been enforced, and the cranes have stopped arriving. They did say there were some last year again, but not this year. So, Dianne, you’ll have to see them for us when you’re in China in December.

Food: Veg – Non-Veg and Train Food

It is very nice to be in a place with an abundance of vegetarian restaurants, and for Veg to be the choice and then comes “Non-Veg”. Menu from the guest house dining room at J.Nehru University.

And US airlines could learn a thing or two from the Indian Railway. As soon as the train moved, they were serving snacks, including a pot of hot – underline hot – tea for each passenger. Then there were newspapers for everyone. Bottled water. A choice of Veg or Non-Veg meal that was also really hot when they served it. Several separate curries and rice and chapatis. Good food. And promptly cleared up

More notes on the Taj

I tried to take a good picture of the Taj that wasn't the same one everyone else takes. These are the tiles in front of the entrance to the tomb at the Taj.

Our guide, Gyanesh, speaks good English and knows lots of facts about the Taj. Most of what I say about the Taj that I didn’t witness directly myself, comes from him.

We drove to a parking lot where we had to switch to an electric cart. No motor vehicles are allowed within about 3 km of the Taj to protect it from pollution. Given the thickness of the air – and clearly some of that is fog and fog residue, but the smoky smell suggests it is much more than fog – this no cars zone is probably just symbolic. Besides, some motorcycles and other vehicles did go thru. We also had a choice of horse or camel carriage. Then we got out and walked the rest of the way. 750 Rupees each for foreigners (about $7.50). Gyanesh got our tickets, then we went thru the security line. Men in one line, women in another that is screened off. No food allowed, just a water bottle, camera. This is part security, part keeping the grounds clean.

Then you walk across a long area with Taj like architecture in sandstone. Then you get to the large arch – Gyanesh stops to explain the absolute symmetry, the mathematical nature of how the Taj was built, how the Arabic script was carefully calculated for perspective so it all looks exactly the same size, etc. There was something about 16 points of something and 53 of another and that matches the year it was completed – 1653. I asked why they would be working on the Christian calendar, since this was created by Muslims, and he mumbled some answer. He insisted in taking our picture here.

Finally we got to look through the huge arch for our first glimpses of the Taj. Wah! (fourth tone) as they would say in Mandarin. Just that first glimpse already said this was far more spectacular than the pictures could hint at.

Despite the fact that we were sharing the grounds with about 25,000 other people, many of whom were taking the same cutesy pose (body arched, hand down as though it were holding the taj in pinched thumb and forefinger) it didn’t matter. The taj overwhelmed it all. Even though the sky wasn’t quite blue – though it got close by 5pm), everything else was on such a grand splendor, the grounds so magnificent... yeah, I know this sounds like hype, but this was incredible. The taj and all the spaces around it really are special. Going inside to see the tomb got a bit tight. A fair amount of – not pushing - but people behind us wanted in and we knew it. Mostly Indians but many tourists. You have to take off your shoes before going in to see the tomb. And although it clearly says no photography inside, there were many flashes.

Eventually we got back to Gyanesh who was waiting for us. “I want my clients to have time to privately explore the grounds without feeling any pressure from me.” He went on to explain more, I was watching the bird nearby – a Hoopoe –
the most interesting looking bird in our old Hong Kong bird book, which I’d always wanted to see, but never have.

Later we had to stop at the government emporium to see the rug makers and then the tile makers. The tile inlay in the Taj is unique in the world, except for the Agra fort nearby that was built 30 years earlier. The story I’d heard before was that after the Taj was completed, the artisans’ hands were chopped off so no one else could have such beautiful tile. Sort of puts a damper on the great love story the Taj is supposed to represent. So when Gyanesh is explaining that the workers here are the descendents of the tile makers and make the inlay the same way as the Taj artisans did, and use the same glue that is “not available in the market” I had to ask how they could know to do this if all the hands were cut off. “Well, that is just a story. Actually, they only had to promise not to do any work like this again.”

We resisted all the sales politely, but did manage to pay way too much for a Taj Mahal replica that Joan had promised a friend. Oh well. Then back to the hotel where Gyanesh charmingly shook us down for more money “Pay what you will, I do not get paid for this. Normally it should be so much for half day, 650 Rupees for whole day, this was more than half day....” OK, we really don’t know the rules here and thought this was covered by the car hire.... And afterward realized, watching Pawan’s eyes as we handed over the money, that we were taken again.

The hotel was a nice one, like Amritsar, and the price very reasonable (2500 Rupees - @ $60) for basically a Western high rise hotel with breakfast, but Indian decor.

Joan is getting used to things much more, but it was a little dicey when we got back from Amritsar and we couldn’t find Sanjay or Pawan waiting for us. The crush of people

OK, OK, here's the picture you all expect to see.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Indian Reactions to the US Elections

The conference was at JNU - known as a leftist university - so everyone there was pleased. The former Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice wondered whether maybe it would change Pakistani politics for the better.

The Indian CNN focused on how it would affect the US-Indian Nuclear treaty and they also highlighted the Indian-Americans who ran for Congress and state legislatures.

The Taj

You've all seen so many pictures of the Taj Mahal what can I add to those images? All I can say is that despite everything, seeing the Taj Mahal through the gate of the old wall was breathtaking. It is huge and it is otherworldly. It was the Taj I'd seen in pictures all my life, and it was something new and wondrous. Actually, I do have some pics and I'll see if I can download them quickly for you.

Driving from Delhi we saw our first camels - pulling carts. I really have no idea what to make of India. I see lots of things, but I have no idea of what they mean. It is hard to keep objective and describe what I see without slipping into words - like poverty, dirty, spiritual - that are interpreting what we see. I look at people on the side of the road, guys peeing in the bushes or washing under a water spout, or with a wife and two kids on his motorcycle, and I wonder who they are, what they think. Obviously they take everything that is amazing to me for granted. But obviously they are thinking human beings just like me. What does the world look like from inside their bodies?

I'll try to add pictures soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Golden Temple

We gave up on the idea of going to the Golden Temple at 4 am to see the Book procession. That turned out to be fine and we got to sleep in a bit. We were at the Temple at 8:30am. You come into the complex, check in your shoes and socks, (Yeah, I got to go barefoot!) and then walk through the water pools (running water to clean your feet). Then up the stairs to this magical view of the temple shimmering in the middle of the water. I'm having trouble loading pictures onto blogger or you'd see it. We walked around the temple first, then along the causeway out to the temple. The place is full of people in all manner of beautiful and/or interesting types of clothing. Men strip down to their shorts and bathe in the pool. Women have a more private bathing area. This is the Vatican of the Sikh world. Built about 400 years ago it is a beautiful and spiritual place. The chanting inside the temple is broadcast throughout. You watch Sikhs enter and a look of joy comes over some of them as they then prostrate themselves toward the temple. We were there early enough that it wasn't too crowded going into the temple. No pictures allowed there. In here is the holy Book of the Sikh world. Beautiful carpets, the walls intricately painted, the rhythym of the chanting, pilgrims meditating. There is such a spiritual and calming sense here. Someone gives me a round sweet. Someone else mimics sticking it in my mouth. Another asks if we have gone upstairs. We follow the winding stairs to another room with a man reading a huge book. Views from between the golden 'knobs' surrounding the roof of the temple.

A really special place. Our short stay in Amritsar has been fantastic. Then after circling (squaring would be more accurate) the temple again, we eventually decided we needed to move on. We stopped in a book store and bought a couple of books and some CDs of the chanting, retrieved our shoes and wandered out into the world again. By the way, when I pulled out my map of Amritsar to ask the man at the book store directions, he said, Put away the maps. Maps are useless in India. One gains spiritual enrichment by helping others find their way.

The world. Bike rickshaws, motorcycles, horse drawn carriages, shops selling all sorts of Sikh related paraphnalia, people squeezing between the vehicles, horns honking... up the street and into another oasis - at least today. This is the Jailliawalla Bawg, were the British massacred about 1000 Indians. If you saw the movie Gandhi, you saw the Indians protesting in the park while the British came in through the only entrance and set up their guns. Today it is a lush green park full of school kids visiting the various memorials to the dead.

We stopped in a cyber cafe and got all my pictures downloaded to a CD and then into a restaurant for a delicious lunch.

Conference, Pakistan border event

I posted pictures of the conference, but haven't really talked about the substance. I'm still processing and will talk about it soon. I was extremely impressed at the number of very articulare (particularly) women speakers who are working on many projects to improve the lives of people in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The stats are horrendous - 300 million, the equivalent of the US, are in severe poverty. But people are working to improve things. As I say, more when I've digested everything a little more.

We took the train to Amritsar today - we're going to see the Golden Temple for real tomorrow. But today we took a taxi to the Pakistan/India border to see the evening flag lowering at the Wagah border ceremony. On both sides of the border, bleachers fill up with maybe 2000-3000 people on each side.
The crowd is cheering the Indian side here

This shows the gate between India and Pakistan. This is a friendly, football game rally like event. Cheers, high stepping soldiers, music. Too bad this sort of positive interaction between India and Pakistan isn't all over CNN to remind the world that 'enemies' can have fun with and respect each other. One fun part is about five or six people from the crowd get to run with the Indian flag down to the gate, wave it, and run back. Pictures coming soon to illustrate, I hope.

Here we can see the Pakistani flag being lowered way off across the border.

This computer is taking way too long to download the pics and someone is waiting, so more later.