Summer is drifting gradually into the distance behind this fast-moving train I seem to be stuck on, but I still have so much to write about those two very short-lived months of freedom that we loved so much.
First, I need to finish telling the story of our India trip because oh, how desperately I do not want that trip to fade into the recesses of my memory.We drove away from Rising Star with heavy hearts (the Rising Star posts are back here with the last one showing first) but luckily we had more adventures awaiting.
When Dave and I planned this trip, we planned it around Rising Star. We wanted to get our kids out of our little bubble here in the desert and have them reach outside of themselves and serve others.
But we also wanted to expose them to other parts of the world. And as long as we were on the other side of the world, we wanted them to see a good portion of it.
So we hooked up with an Indian Hindu tour guide who took us on a wild ride through three prominent Indian cities: Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.
We sure saw and experienced so more than we bargained for in this van of ours:…and had more fun than we bargained for with our new neighbors.
I must say that it was kind of an interesting way to “meet” your new neighbors.
I don’t know that most people get to go on a sweaty trip to India as a way to “break the ice” with people they are going to be moving right next to in a cul-de-sac with only two houses on it. It’s kind of risky business if you ask me, but boy howdy did we luck out with these guys. They were the best travel partners ever which has us convinced they’re going to be even better neighbors. So far they claim to still want us to move in, so that’s good news :)
Also in our van was our awesome tour guide named “Nitten” (but I have no idea if that’s how you spell it) He’s in the middle below:
And this driver (on the left) and his helper. Let’s just go ahead and say that with the no-rules-traffic in India, that sweet driver of ours had our lives in his hands on a continual basis. And he did a phenomenal job dodging pigs and cows and people in the middle of the road everywhere we went.
We flew from Southern India (where Rising Star is located) up North on Spice Jet. Love that name for an airline, don’t you?
We felt surprisingly safe considering that this is how the airport looked:
We got to read a little of the newspaper en route…
This was the guy who greeted us at our hotel in Jaipur. I think he inspired Max to grow a mustache just like that one day.
We kind of got settled and then headed out to the city.
These pictures will give you a little flavor of what we saw as we drove:
Loved these cute girls getting a ride to school:
Cows are sacred in India and no one “owns” them. They just get to roam around and go hog-wild doing whatever they please.
…even if it includes standing in the middle of a median on a freeway…or eating the exorbitant amounts of garbage dumped everywhere.
There are pigs all over the place too:
…and goats and chickens and dogs and peacocks and even monkeys.
…and camels.You get the idea.
Some parts were hard to see.
Others were really interesting. This car below is made from completely recycled parts of other cars:
Jaipur is nicknamed “The Pink City” because they painted most of it pink (actually an orange-ish color…see below) to welcome Prince Albert when he came to visit in 1863.Man, I hope Prince Albert felt great about that…that’s quite a welcome if you ask me.
We got out and walked for a while to get lunch.
That walk was an eye-opener with the people begging on the streets. That part was really, really hard. It’s rough to even put it into words. They will follow you forever even after you slip them some cash, and more and more will join in. I loved the people like this cute lady who were trying to sell things to earn money.
Anyone need a random key?
I was fascinated by the wires in India. They don’t get built into things there, they’re just “stapled” haphazardly in huge quantities to the outside of buildings. (WAY more of that phenomenon when we get to Delhi.)
The scaffolding was kinda cool too:
I don’t think two children have ever been quite so excited about American food: The continual curry and red rice for every meal at Rising Star just wasn’t cutting it for them.
(We still ate curry for all but one of our other meals in India…I mean, seriously, when you’re in India you better live on their food, which was really good in my opinion.)
Below is Hawa Mahal or “Palace of Winds” that is kind of famous in Jaipur. It was built in 1799 for the royal ladies to stand behind to watch the day to day activities since it wasn’t proper for them to be seen.
I love Indian architecture.
We had a chance to visit the “City Palace” that was built in 1729 and parts of it have been converted into a museum.
We were greeted by this snake charmer on our way in.He’s looking kind of bugged/nervous because he was worried about the lady who went in before us who didn’t know she was supposed to give him a tip.
I am in love with these scallops in the Indian architecture.
Buckle your seatbelt because you are going to see a lot of them.
I think they look especially pretty with Indian women in front of them. The women there are so beautiful with shrouded in their beautiful colorful saris.
There were these four “gates” in there to symbolize the four different seasons.
I loved the peacock one.
Handsome broken-foot guy.…who will be mad at me for posting that picture…
Does this picture help it make more sense why those kids at Rising Star were so darn fascinated with Elle’s elastics?
I loved watching these three together.
I wanted an Indian tablecloth we could use to help us remember India when we got home. Our tour guide brought us to this place that had thousands of them.
This guy showed us the process of the wood block dying system they do in India:
…and he was willing to entertain my bargaining techniques.
We visited the “water palace” the ancient royalty used for summer retreats.
One of the things I loved most about India was that we got to learn so much about other religions.
That evening at sunset we got to go to a really cool prayer ceremony at this marble temple:
In all the temples, mosques and sacred places in India you take off your shoes to enter the premises. Luckily they allowed walking boots:)
It was a gorgeous temple, but what I loved most about it was the prayer we got to be part of inside (no pictures). At a precise time they pulled back the curtains to unveil the statues of Krishna (the 8th reincarnation of Vishnu) and his wife dressed in beautiful hot-pink saris surrounded in leis and gold. Huge bells pealed out a melodic prayer and I loved being there with my family in the middle of it all with our tour guide belting out the prayer with the rest of the people crowded around. It was kind of a surreal experience.
Here’s Nitten explaining the intricacies of Hinduism to Dave:
Such an eye-opening experience for these kids.
The next morning we went to Amber Fort.
We got to ride up to it on these guys:
Brynne and Mike took forever to get up the hill on their poor elephant who I’m afraid was a little too old/sick for the task.
I’ll let the pictures tell about this fort, but there’s much more info. here if you care to know more about the history.
These trinket-sellers were the most persistent ones ever.
With that, we headed off for our next stop: Agra and the Taj Mahal.