From Bohdgaya

 

Jan 4, 2014

I arrived in Bohdgaya yesterday and was met at the plane by a smiling Deepak. I am staying at his house with his wife and 3 children. The accommodations are better than most of the hotels I have stayed at recently.  We went  for a drive last night through the town and saw some temples by night. I saw Buddhist monks, shaved heads, red robes, riding in richshaws, wearing dust masks. a surreal sight to be sure.  There is a 22 year old lama here, the Karmappa,  whose presence these thousands of monks have pilgrimmaged to Bohdgaya to be near. Its like a cult of some kind.  Karmappa has a big throne, where he grants 3 seconds to people who make an appointment, He spent millions for a gold spire on top of his temple. And there is so much poverty surrounding him.

Today, I went to Rescue Junction in Gaya, the next town,  to meet the children who live there. There are about 40 in all, who have been rescued from traffikers or lost or run away or even thrown away. I taught an art lesson to them. I will finish it and make another one on next Tuesday.  It was heart wrenching to look at all those lovely faces. One little girl was only 4 years old. The staff reunites them with their families or gets them to school or a job training. Apparently they have a 99 percent success rate.  They are doing so much for the people in this area.

I am using Deepak’s computer to write the blog so I will not be able to keep up as well. My ipad depends on wifi  so there will not be pictures unless I can get to an internet cafe. Namaste and su vra tri (good night in Hindi).

Leaving Jaipur

imageJanuary 2, 2014
On the road at 5 am. The driver does not speak any English and me no Hindi. This might be a problem. It’s a 4 hour drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and it’s so cold that people have outside fires going to keep warm, adding to the pollution. I’m surprised how flat the countryside is, only a few red jagged hills made of sandstone with mostly fields along the way.
It was VERY exciting to see the Taj Mahal. It is absolutely breathtaking. Well worth the effort to getting there. I had a young man to guide me through it. It all worked out perfectly. He was also able to do a little translating with the driver. Back to Delhi by 5 pm, making this one long day.
Tomorrow will mostly be travel time to Bohdgaya.

A Day in Jaipur

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January 1, 2014. New Years Day This morning, Umar, my tuk tuk driver, picked me up and we headed for the Amber Fort, high on a hill, a palace built by a maharaja from marble and sandstone in the 1700’s. It took 25 years to complete. It must have been amazing in its prime. (Before the advent of tourists, and motor bikes) The royals got around on elephants or they were carried around. On the way back, we stopped for a visit to a block printing shop and a spice shop, then to the royal tombs. More marble and carvings. It was quiet there, birds singing, a welcome change from the hectic tourist attractions. I’m working on shipping my stuff. It will be a relief not to have to schlep it across India. It’s quite reasonable considering an extra bag costs me $100 with United airlines. Tomorrow the drive to Delhi via the Taj Mahal.