I've been having trouble with the internet so I am far behind on my India escapades so let me begin with Jaipur.
Jaipur is the first modern city in India. The streets are wide and it is easy to see the European influence. Our guide Sher Singh was eager to the share the city he loves. Our hotel was a former palace. This is the most luxury we have experienced. Elaine's and my room sports two brass beds and hot showers - not to be underestimated.
Both Elaine and I are pleased to escape the oppressive heat of the south and to enjoy a balmy 26 degrees.
In our first full day in Jaipur we traveled to the Amber Fort. We left our bus to get into jeeps that carried us up the tortuous cobble road to the top. Monkeys and stray cows and pigs speckled the road. The fort itself was begun in 1592 by Maharajah Man Singh. The site is magnificent with ivory inlaid doors, marble carvings and a reflective room for the wives. Women were not allowed to be seen by those from the outside world so special windows were designed for them to look out and throw flowers to their returning husbands. The practice of married women not going outdoors is still very much in practice still by the generation one older than mine and in my generation. By 6 pm you seldom see women on the street, while men gather at various stalls, eat, smoke and exchange stories.
We went to a rug factory and watched the process of hand knotting rugs, burning off excess wool and carding the surfaces. Many in our group purchased stunning rugs but they were far beyond my budget. Shipping home is included in the price. Everyone told me the prices were great - but what do I know.
Next we travelled to a block printing textile factory - again fascinating how very skilled these artisans are. I purchased some fabric and they agreed to deliver an outfit of top, bottom and scarf that evening. Remarkable to the one who takes an hour to sew on a button. Sure enough it arrived on the dot!
Sher, our guide, was very keen to share his Hindu faith with us. I was not aware that astrology played such a significant role. For him, nothing significant happens or is planned without having the astrology read by the priest. This is true even in marriage - If there are not at least 17 out of 27 areas aligned the marriage is not agreed to by the priest. (I will talk more about arranged marriages later because we have heard some interesting stories.)
We attended a service in the Birla Lakshmi Narayan temple in the evening. All sacred areas require no shoes and usually no photography. The service itself was relatively simple with singing and then the receiving of a blessing with water and the giving of some holy food. The idols (the prime one being Shiva here) are usually massive, gold and ornate.
I have talked ignorantly about karma in my past. It is taken very seriously here. If you happen to kill a cow, according to the faith you must pay thousands of rupees and visit most holy sites in India to erase the bad karma. Sher would not tell Elaine to buy or not buy batteries from street venders because if he caused them to lose business it was bad karma but if he told Elaine to buy and the batteries were no good it was also bad karma.
In many ways in our quantum physics universal understanding we are beginning to comprehend that what we do, however insignificant, has effect. Maybe Hindus have just figured it out far before us.
In quantum physics we begin to comprehend that what we do has an effect. Maybe Hindus figured it out long before us.