Jodhpur, the Blue City

Trip Start Jun 07, 2008
Trip End Jun 28, 2009

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am learning a lot about India and Indian culture and history, especially from Indirajit. He is an amazing guide - he spent over three years studying tigers in the wild here!

He helped explain the different castes of India to me today. This is what I learned:

There are four main castes in India, which determines how you should be treated. Of the 1.2 billion people living in India, almost everyone falls into one of these castes. (There are also at least 17 different languages, but Hindi is used the most often.)

The highest caste is Brahmins, or the head, which represents people who are intelligent. If you are Brahman, you paint your house light blue (more about that later in Jodhpur - if a city ends in pur it is a Hindu city and if it ends in bad, it is a Muslim city.)

The second caste is Kshatriyas, or the arms and fists, who are the ruler or warrior class. Mrs. Raiput, who we had dinner with in Jaipur, is from the warrior class. A lot of the people in Rajasthan are warrior caste. And the Maharajas come from the warrior caste.

The third caste, is the Vaishyas, or the stomach - they feed you, and they are the farmers and traders. Mahatma Ghandi was from this caste.

The fourth caste is the Shudras, or the feet, and this is the servants and labourers.

There was also a fifth group outside the caste system, called the Untouchables, who would be the bottom of the feet. A long time ago they could not get jobs or anything, but they have now changed this system. I read a book called the "Conch Bearer" who was from Calcutta and he was an untouchable. He left his family and he became a god.

In the cities, it is not used very much, although if someone knows your last name, they will know your caste. But in small villages, some people still treat you differently based on your caste. It is very confusing and I don't think it is a very good system. It is not fair at all, I think.

On our way to Jodhpur, the Blue City, we stopped at school. It was for ages four to fifteen or sixteen. It had 250 students. When we got there, there were four boys collecting water to use at the school. They were wearing uniforms and no shoes. When we went into the school, there was a big dirt courtyard where kids were sitting outside writing and doing work while they sat on the ground. There was also some kids working in the garden, kind of like the Willow School. The principal, who was also a teacher of science, geography, and math, showed us into a classroom. The boys and girls sit separately and they did not have any desks or chairs - they were just sitting on the floor. I talked to them for a while and when they answered, they had to stand up. I asked them what they did for fun - one boy said he studies for two hours, then he helps with agriculture (his parents are farmers), then he plays. Another girl said that she studies. Most of the kids at this school are from families who are farmers. They were very nice to me. I also saw ladies cooking chapatis (pancake like bread) and other food for the lunch - every kid in India gets a free lunch at school. In small villages, kids go to school from 10:30-4:30, but in big cities, they have two shifts, one in the morning and one in the evening, because they do not have enough space in the schools for everyone to go at once.

We also saw black-faced monkeys and a Nargil, the biggest antelope in the world, while we were driving.

This afternoon, we got to Umaid Bhavan Palace, where we are staying in Jodphur. The palace was built by the maharajah or king in the early 1900s because there was a big famine and people needed jobs. The king's grandson still lives in the palace, right next to our room. We saw his royal horses yesterday. He was named king when he was only 4 years old and he was coronated at the fort we visited this afternoon. Our guide today, Mr. Lal, said he was there for the coronation and that the little boy did not know what was going on!

Mr. Lal took us to the Mehrangarh Fort, which is on a huge rocky hill looking over the blue-painted houses of Jodphur. Rudyard Kipling said that the fort was the "creation of angels and fairies and giants." It is huge and was built in 1459 out of red sandstone. We saw the ladies areas, where the maharaja kept 64 wives, and also the bedroom where he met his wives. It had a huge fan that someone had to pull over his bed. We also saw howdahs, which are the things on elephants backs used to carry people, and also palanquins, which were used to carry people - it took at least six men to carry them on their shoulders. Dad and I climbed the ramparts and saw lots of old cannons and a great view.

While I was there, I met an Indian boy named Dahawal, who is 12 years old. He was there with his family. I interviewed him:

Jodhpur, India

Where do you live? Gujarat, India

Who do you live with? My parents and older sister

Where do you go to school? I am in the seventh grade at

What is your favorite subject? Science

What do you do for fun? Watch TV

What is your favorite food? Ice cream!

What are you afraid of? God

What message would you tell all the children in the world? Do good things in science and technology to bring the country forward

Tonight we had dinner outside at the palace and watched fireworks from some weddings in town. November is the start of wedding season in India so there are lots of weddings happening everywhere. It was a great day.
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