Monday, October 24, 2005

Khandwa Etcetera

Sweets!(Above) Here we are (finally) in Khandwa. This gentleman was busy making a traditional Indian-type desert. They're like these super sweet, orange(ish) curly things that were fried in this syrupy liquid, and then cooled off in this other even more syrupy liquid. Mmmmm . . . They were good . . . Ted wasn't quite as enamoured with them as I . . . but hey . . . I have a sweet tooth. I enjoyed them very much.

Cows In Khandwa
(Above) They were everywhere - and Khadwa was no different. This is a photograph Ted took at something like three in the morning. They were all plopped down just off the center of the road. I myself was in the room sleeping. or at least trying to sleep. I believe the mosquitos were feasting on me with such delight that I could barely catch a wink's rest on this particular night. I stayed in the room fritting through my attempt at rest, and Ted opted to go on a night's walk through the town.

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Just next to the Pearl Palace Hotel where we stayed in Khandwa, there was a little restaurant where we ate a few times just prior to our Asirgarh jaunt.(Above . . . and, perhaps, below for that matter) Getting prepared for the journey.

Asirgarh: Day One


We took a bus to Asirgarh (which literally means "the fort at Asir") where our "Non Stop Express" bus took just about every stop imaginable en route to the town. The trip was adventuresome enough, however, and had its fare share of wonderful, colorful characters.This woman looked about one half step away from our primate relatives. While this might sound crass to some, I don't mean it as such in any way. I found her quite amazing, regal, and magnificent - in the quiet way that most women of the country presented themselves.
She had a small child with her - her grand daughter perhaps; tired - and it didn't seem to be from the bus ride itself. She seemed to be too old for her age . . .
Her look was stern and intense. Not quite how one would expect to describe a two year old . . . but, as you see, the description is not entirely off base.
"You mad doggin' me boah??" This kid was all business when I took her picture. As with just about EVERY kid that we saw in India, there was an intensity that just felt to be an absolutely natural part of their make up. The land, I easilly saw in my brief stay there, seemed to do that to you.
Absolutely beautiful, however. She finally opened and brightened up like a flower when I showed her the result of the photo I took of her. She was thoroughly facinated (and dare I say appreciative?) of the image of her that appeared on this small, silver rectangle I was holding just seconds after pointing it in her general direction and pressing the "picture" button.
This (above) is, believe it or not, one of my absolute favorite photos taken in India. It pretty much captures my sentiments about the place: Claustrophobically stuffy, people piled on top of each other, not the cleanest, most sanitary place or conditions for adults or children, very stressing and stressful . . . yet . . . I was loving every minute of it.
Ted (above) with the villagers at Asirgarh. He looks like one of those western archeologists-types we see in the nature shows on television mingling with the natives.
And there's the fort in the picture above - or at least part of it. It was pretty expansive. We had to walk/hike quite a ways to get up to it.
There was a rocky, staired walk way of sorts leading all the way up to the fort. The entire time, I kept thinking about how this monolith that rivals any of the biggest stadiums we have today was built hundreds of years ago when there were no bulldozers or lifts around. Amazing.

Part of the fort was literally built right upon the side of the mountain itself, and the rocks were simply used as fortified walls for the building.
(Above) This was a picture that was taken up at the top of one of various towers at the fort. They overlooked a good portion of the expanse beyond, and while it probably wasn't a very smart idea for me to be this precariously close to the ledge (yes, I'm literally right on the edge of a free falling window, beyond which is a drop that would have probably crushed me into soup had I false-stepped), it made for what we thought was a pretty good photo op.
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Day Two . . .

We decided to go back to Asirgarh for a second day. We didn't really know why, or what to expect, but we somehow knew we still hadn't seen some of the best areas of the fort grounds. So we got back on the bus and headed toward the remote area where the fort was situated.
This was a photo (above) that Ted took while we were on the bus. I really like this picture. I see a sadness there that is very pensive . . .
(Above) This little girl was looking at me like I was a creature from another planet. At this point of the trip, I was well accustomed to the unblinking stare customs of the culture, so I was just staring right back at her like SHE was the one from another planet. There was never ever any animosity in any of these silent, but intense visual encounters, however (%99 of the time only with males - the only time females would stare was when, on ocassions such as this one, it involved a child who was not yet fully inculcated in the ways and customs of the culture), but . . . well . . . it was definitely very, very unnerving to say the least. It is something that the western mind is by NO means accustomed to - constant, unblinking staring . . . right AT you . . . THROUGH you really . . . It was quite a lot of work (for me), I found . . .
Oh . . . by the way . . . did I mention we did NOT AT ALL regret having returned to Asirgarh for a second day? The areas that we discovered . . . were . . . amazing.

This particular spot was so beautiful and breathtaking . . .
that I had to sit down and take it all in for a minute.
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Military Disrespect And The Dead Indian Skeleton Boy

That's what I like to call these two posts (above and below), since the kid above REALLY looks like a walking corpse (sorry . . . it's true. Look for yourself!), and, in the picture below, I really look like one of those wholy disrespectful US soldiers out somewhere at war overseas and paying absolutely NO mind to the religious artifact he's so effronterously plopping himself down upon.

(Above) This was our last night in Khandwa. Although the small town itself presented its share of less than positive, if not just plain inconvenient, scenarios, 1) we did eventually warm up to it (or, perhaps, it warmed up to us), and 2) I wanted to get this picture all the same . . .

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