Protected: Spice up your holidays with some paan

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Evil can’t stand the spice

Warding off the bad mojo

In Hindu tradition, a hanging fetish of lime and chili pepper will ward off dark spirits. Small strands hang from doorways, vehicles, walls, etc., as above in a Bikaner kameez shop and below in the Jaisalmer fort palace.

Into the spice I command thee...

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Lonely footwear

Lost flip flop next to one of my Reefs for comparison

On a railroad foot bridge in Bikaner, some small child lost a flip flop. Probably as a parent lifted the kid to catch a train.

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The magic of irrigation

Water in a desert works wonders

Rajasthan is a dry, dry place.

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Time for friends

Was with good people when this photo was taken

Most of my traveling for the last nine months has been solo. I’ve met great people along the way, but there have only been a couple stretches where old friends have joined up.

This photo was taken while wandering a bazaar in Bikaner with Joel and Kate. Good times.

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Built for modesty


Typical Rajasthani forts have many rooms and screened sections built specifically for the women of the maharaja’s court. Seen one way, such cloistering protected the ladies from the coarse men of the day and gave them almost revered status. Yet, equally if not more, that kind of restriction was a way to contain and control women in a society that believed men deserved all power.

On a tour through the Bikaner fort, I repeatedly bumped in to this beautiful and obviously modest woman, vacationing with her new husband.

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Cattle run (walk) amok

Unaware of the traffic

Despite my unreasonable fear of cattle, I can’t help taking pictures of them looking dumb (sinister) as always.

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The joys of traditional spices


I love the description on this menu. Unfortunately didn’t actually try the tikka from this overpriced cafe in Bikaner.

Now, I’m hungry.

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High pressure sales

Silk, glorious silk

That’s silk-wallah Om Prakash Jain in the background. He runs an upstairs shop in a back-alley garment market in Bikaner.

Firangi walk by and he orders up cups of tea and unfurls his wares. With me, he did not make a sale. But I thanked him repeatedly for the chai.

Low light photo, unfortunately.

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Rat takes the cheese

Cute, actually

About 30 kilometers from Bikaner, in the pilgrimage town of Deshnok, we toured the Karni Mata mandir, home to a collection of holy rats. Karni Mata, a 14th-century Hindu sage and incarnation of Durga, in a fight with another god, gave protection to a band of storytellers who became reincarnated as rats.

They now live (barely, in many cases) in a temple where they are worshipped. Many pilgrims bring them food and other “gifts.” More photos below.

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