LTBs A Few Ruppees More
Trip Start Aug 20, 2005
39Trip End May 26, 2006
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Jodhpur is home to a large and famous fort.It was built in 1499 by the local Maharaja and was never taken by force. Indeed after every attack that was successfully repelled with enemies dispatched, back home or to their gods :-) The ruling Maharaja celebrated by building another wall or gate. The fortifications start at the city walls which are forty feet high and wide enough to carry a horse and carriage. There are seven other walls with gates. The fort has been attacked by cannon,battering ram and elephant, it is India folks don't be too surprised by the elephant:-).In its build there is a couple of anti-elephant devices such as one iron gate with six inch iron spikes on the gate.This is to inflict (a lot of) pain and damage to any elephant that tries to charge the gate.Another device is the gates are tucked into right angles of the wall, thus creating a tight turning circle for the elephant.This does two things, it robs the elephant of momentum and enables the elephant to see the spikes. Elephants being reasonably clever will be hard persuaded to charge at a spiked gate.Although the Maharaja is Hindu, the royal women quarter was designed according to muslin perda.This means that they were veiled.When inside the palace the women did not have to wear veils as the windows in their section acted like veils.This is due to the lattice decorative design on the windows.So the small holes could let the air in, they could see out but anyone looking at the window could not see a face, thus fulfilling the modesty requirement.The other purpose was it hid the identity of the royal wives (one Maharaja had 53 wives simultaneously) which made kidnapping the right women tougher.Over the windows in the palace they had curtains made out of tiny reeds.Around the reeds, thread was wrapped to create a pattern
Indeed when a Maharaja died in 1843 all his 53 wives committed sati.Sati is the act when a widow throws herself on top of her husband's funeral pyre.The idea being that the two of them will be united celestially forever.Personally I can't see what is the hurry, lets wait a few years :-)In the fort you can see by one of the gates the hand prints of the 53 wives who committed sati.The act has been illegal in India for a number of years but last week I read in the Indian Times a 77 year old woman committed sati. Her sons were quoted in the article as saying that she was a very devout woman.The police are also investigating the incident.When I read the article my skin just crawled, I would like to believe that she was very devout but she have been beside herself with grief but I do hope she was not thrown.
When I was at a bus station in Gujarat I saw a strange and slightly old poster.It was written all in Hindi but it had two pictures of babies fully formed inside the womb.Nothing extraordinary about one baby but the other baby had a hangman's noose around its neck inside the womb.I asked the man I had been talking to what was the poster about and he said its message from the government was "All babies should be treated equally".I did not ask any further questions.I'm not sure what the message was but I know in the past Indians placed a lot of stock in the first born son.That type of attitude, is of course in the past now and India is a much more enlightened society
India like all over Asia does not really believe in public space. Yes the government provides footpaths, parks etc but these are not for everyone use but rather the smartest and quickest people.These people normally open up a business such as an international telephone center in a wooden hut maybe galvanise if they're flash :-). They run an extension lead across the path into a shop and power up their telephone bank, normally two maybe three phones. All phones apparently are ISD and good rates :-)Other business are fast food (big wok heated by gas selling all manner of deep fried food) barbers and even the woman selling the experience of feeding and petting a cow (sacred to the Jain religion).By the way the cows in India are very sedate as they walk through traffic, past dogs who ignore them, chewing their cud, drinking from various water sources.Indeed all cows look very happy :-)Indeed other business such as sweets, drinks and newspaper retailers are set up on a crate and big sheet of plywood. Similarly with such a caviler attitude to public space,you often see people spitting on the street, people going to toilet into the drains, (sometimes little kids not bothering or been guided by their mums to use the drains) and washing.I saw one woman one day washing a young kid on the footpath.She had a big basin of water and loads of soap.The following day in the same spot, with the same equipment she was lathering up an elderly man.I'm presume it is her family but in India you can never take it for granted that it is not a business venture!What can I say it will never catch on in Ireland sure we don't have the weather for that type of thing :-)