Safaris and celebrations

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

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


Lu turned four today (although she is telling everyone she is five) so we are celebrating all day today. This morning we read emails from her friends and family then we headed out for a jeep safari to see wild antelopes and things.

We went to a Bishnoi village, where we got in a jeep. The Bishnois are a group of Hindus who follow 29 principles, including protecting animals and also trees. They were the world's first ecologists, and they helped saved the Indian black buck and a special kind of tree. We saw about 40 black buck, including lots of bachelors and two males fighting. We also saw an eagle, some small antelope, peacocks, and weaver nests, and a green bee eater, which is beautiful.

At the Bishnoi village, we meet the family who farms this area and who protects the animals. In India, there are no fences around any game reserves, so all animals can roam anywhere, but the black buck stay close to the Bishnoi because they protect them. We met the grandmother, mothers, and children at the house and they invited us in to see everything. The houses are made of mud, cow dung, and straw and had straw roofs and smooth, clean mud floors - they sort of looked like rondavels in South Africa. There was a mother and baby cow in the courtyard. One of the ladies had a two-month old baby and she was swinging him in a cradle made of cloth and sticks. The ladies and the baby were wearing beautiful bright colored clothes and the ladies had big gold rings through their noses and lots of jewelry, which they inherited when they married. All the kids had black charcoal around their eyes to protect their eyes and also keep away the evil eye. It was nice to see how they live. Bishnois like to live only with their nuclear family (that means their parents and kids), not in a village. They still cook all their food over a fire and they have a well for water in their village. Now they boil their water so they won't get sick if it is dirty. The family farms the land around them to get their food and money.

We then went to the bigger village called Dhundli. It was still very small, with only a few houses. The houses there were made of stucco that was painted blue and they also had smooth dirt floors. There was a wedding party walking through the village when we got there - I met the groom and bride (the bride had her face covered and was tied to the groom with a sari). It was kind of freaky because some of the kids swarmed around me and tried to shake my hand and kiss me. They were nice, but it was strange! I am used to Lu getting kissed but not me!

We visited two of the houses in the village and saw where they cook their chapatis in a special place in the corner and keep their grain and we saw the pictures of all the different gods on the walls. Then we went to an opium ceremony, where three men who were old showed us how to make opium tea, then shared some with us. You had to drink it out of the man's hand, to show respect, and then you would let him drink out of your hand. I did not drink the opium, but Dad and Mom and Indirajit did. Then Dad smoked a bidi, which is a very weak cigarette and let me try it. I did not like it all. On the way out, I saw a buffalo and its calf go right into a house! They shooed it out, but that happens a lot in India.

Indirajit organized a lunch for us at the place and also a GREAT chocolate cake for Tallulah!!! That was really nice - Lu also got a beautiful Indian dress from Mukat, our driver. He is a great driver, because on the lndian roads lots of people are going the wrong way, and there are cows, pigs, and other animals everywhere, plus people, and trucks and cars passing without even looking. I am amazed at how he drives.

Tonight we are having a birthday dinner for Lu and another chocolate cake thanks to Indirajit!!! At the pool, we also saw the crown prince, who is in his 30s. Sadly, he was hurt in an accident so he was doing exercises in the pool. I have never seen a prince before in person, so that was pretty special. I hope the prince gets better.

So far, thumbs up for India!
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