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"Is it weird in here or is it just me?" Woody Allen



HOWDY! This is a platform for me to express myself. To bare my thoughts, emotions and life stories. Leaving bite-size pieces of me before I go. I graciously invite you to comment, swap stories and thoughts. Please post your comment or get in touch with me here.


OTHER HERMITS
ON THE BLOG.

alexandra wong
allyson
bawangmerah
consuela
dreams&sugars
jemima
lex
loopymeals
lynn wabbit
mooi
mrd
nawooz
peteteo
postsecret
scentofgreenbananas
simontalks
snippetsoflife
suyin
tequilamockingbird
thewritetherapy
uncletim
visithra
yvy


ARCHIVES.
09.03 10.03 01.04 02.04 03.04 04.04 05.04 06.04 07.04 08.04 09.04 10.04 11.04 12.04 01.05 02.05 03.05 04.05 05.05 06.05 07.05 08.05 09.05 10.05 11.05 12.05 01.06 02.06 03.06 04.06 05.06 06.06 07.06 08.06 09.06 10.06 11.06 12.06 01.07 02.07 03.07 04.07 05.07 06.07 07.07 08.07 09.07 10.07 11.07 02.08 03.08 05.08 09.08 10.08 12.08 02.09 04.09 05.09 06.09 07.09


FAVOURITES.
a rustic analysis*
bo leh*
buat donno*
jakun & boon cit - a love story. not.*
jingling nona*
many happy returns of the day, u sexy u*
love misunderstood*
no willy*
perfect man*
save me from this misery*
tan ah yam, i'm sorry*


INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS.
an interview with joe blogs*
woo! a review!*


TRAVELOGUES.
halong bay - you jump, i save you*
hanoi on my mind*
hanoi - in search of the pain-in-the-arse ice cream and other stories in between*
sungai petani, my hometown* [pt 1]
leave my country* [pt 1]
leave my country* [pt 2]
ozcapade* [pt 1]
ozcapade* [pt 2]
ozcapade* [pt 3a]
ozcapade* [pt 3b]
moomoo vista* [pt 1]
moomoo vista* [pt 2]
moomoo vista* [pt 3]
ah moy in paris* [pt 1]


CREDITS.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

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moomoo vista* [part 2] 

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Hey you. We meet again on the second and final part of my Indian picturesque tour. I sincerely apologise for the delay. I’ve been quite busy. And somewhat lazy. Yeah, it’s a bit of an oxymoron excuse, I know, but that’s exactly how I’ve been the past month.

Also, to be honest, for a moment, I was quite lost for ideas. Then I came across a shot of the displayed Rajasthan postcards above, and voila! I thought it would be swell to put together montages of the places I’ve visited. To do that, I had to cherry pick from a pool of 600 plus shots taken. Even if I minus the 20 shots presented earlier, there’s still 580 shots to go through. Believe me, that was not an easy task. No siree.

I won’t go through the details and history of each place, that’s what Google or any other search engine is for. I rather focus on telling you my POVs and personal memories instead.

As you already know, I was in India for 17 glorious days. Breakdown of the trip: Delhi 2D2N - Agra 1D1N – Jaipur 2D2N – Pushkar 1D1N – Udaipur 2D2N – Jodhpur 2D2N – Jaisalmer 2D2N – Bikaner 1D1N – Delhi 2D1N – Chennai 2D2N. The trip to Rajasthan covered Agra up to Bikaner.

Our initial idea was to backpack around Rajasthan, but we were advised by the travel agent to charter a car instead. It proved to be an excellent advice as it was safer, cost effective and convenient. We got ourselves an Ambassador car and our designated driver was Deepak Kumar, not Chopra. After spending 12 days with him, we realized he is the “King of the Road” and not the cows!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDriving in India is madness. Your body oozes more adrenalin from the ultimate fear of having various types of vehicles coming towards you from all directions, than from a rollercoaster ride. When the traffic light is on red, it means “Who gives a toot! Go Anyway!” A bit like us Malaysians, eh? Deepak jokingly told us of the 3 key necessities when driving in India – Good horn, good brakes and good luck. He was right. Everyone honks there. In fact you are requested to horn. The back of every vehicle bears that request – Horn Please. So what do you do? Horn la.

Ok without further rumpus, let’ roll then. But before that, let me warn you that this post may borders to being either engagingly mesmerizing or intoxicatedly verbose. Regardless, I would like to advise you to go take a quick drink of water, a swoosh pee [Remember to wash those hands, dear. *ahaks*] and buckle up.


DELHI

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Shot 1 - 5 - Qutb-Minar
The foundation of this place was laid sometime back in the 12th century, by the head of the Mamluk Dynasty. Original plan was to have a set of twin towers, but only one tower [Pix 2] was completed while the other was left at its base stage. [Pix 5].

The Islamic influence is apparent especially the beautiful Jawi-inscribed stacked stones on the surrounding areas to the tower. This place could well be the location for the Indian version of ‘Mighty Aphrodite’. I can volunteer to be the female lead alongside Woody. Hm, nice…But let’s not digress.

Interesting facts – (i) This is the highest tower in India at the height of 72.5m. That’s about the height of 3 King Kongs stacked atop one another. (ii) It has a diameter of 14.32m at the base and 2.75m at the top. (iii) It is ascended by 379 steps. But no one is allowed to go up. Damn. (iv) The completed tower was struck twice by lightning.

Shot 6 – Bahai House of Worship
I saw this building from the plane window and thought it was superbly beautiful. At a glance, I think it looks similar to the Sydney Opera House. The house is a place of worship and meditation for people of all religions and races – which, to me, is another new-age belief. There are a lot of foreign volunteers here whom take charge of the traffic flow.

Shot 7 – Delhi Gate
Delhi Gate reminded me of Arch de Tromphe in Paris. And it has become a key landmark for Delhi. This is why it gets featured to death in most telco advertisements to depict Delhi. Behind the gate is a big park ala Titiwangsa where people go for leisure walks, picnics, dating, jogging, and there’s a lake to row some boats.

Shot 8 – Parliament
Situated opposite to Delhi Gate are the government offices and the parliament. This shot was taken from the Ambassador car as we were not allowed to park. I like the architecture – think it’s nice. It reminds me of our KLSC building. And a bit of Putrajaya. What do you think?

Shot 9 – Mahatma Gandhi Memorial
This shot was taken on my last hour in Delhi, on our way to the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The sketch of this memorial is featured on the reverse side of the Rs500 note. It’s weird - every time I see pictures of Gandhi; my thoughts immediately go to Ben Kingsley. The power of movies, I tell you…

Shot 10 – Toot Toot
Surprising this 3-wheeled public transport is also called Toot-Toot, akin to those in Thailand. Am not too sure who came up with the name first though. Maybe it is as universal as to calling “Meow” to any cat around the globe; it could be named after the sound of its horn. But if that’s the case, it should be called ‘Porn Porn’ instead. But maybe that name befits another trade better, eh? Don’t know.

Shot 11 – 12 - Delhi Night
Delhi is known for its high level of pollution. The carbon-filled air is thick. But it provides the nicest glow for those night shots, which were taken from the rooftop restaurant of Hotel Ajanta, where we stayed for 3 nights. Buffet dinner cost Rs125 (approx RM12.50) and it’s the only place which serves lotus roots. Fried.

India’s vegetable repertoire is limited to tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber, onions, cabbages, spinach and sometimes, brinjals. Common fruits are bananas, apples, pomegranates, coconuts and oranges. We ate mostly bananas throughout our journey. Deepak must have thought we were a bunch of constipated Malaysian female monkeys. Which we were.


AGRA

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Agra is famous for 2 key architectures – Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. Personally, I prefer the Agra Fort because I am a sucked into the story of Shah Jahan’s dethronement by his son, Aurangzeb and my key highlight was to check out the infamous balcony which he was held captive for 8 years till his last breath in 1666. The only thing that kept him going was the view of Taj Mahal from that captive balcony. The second postcard is dedicated to that, with a couple exaggerated shots of Shah Jahan’s captive view of the Taj Mahal from the aforesaid balcony and lastly the grand wonder itself. Heh.

I have always been captivated with Shah Jahan when I studied Islamic History for STPM. It was one of my favourite subjects. And the teacher, Encik Zakri, was amazing. He’s got all the info stored in his head and he just blabs the stories like a parrot suffering from verbal diarrhea. And he did that with lots of zest, it was mind-blowing.

Taj Mahal is the second wonder of the world that I’ve visited. First being the Eiffel Tower. Honestly, any picture taken gives pale impression of its majestic beauty. The sun was not strong that day, thus the shot was slightly hazy.

Interesting facts – (i) ‘Mahal’ means palace in Hindi. (ii) It took 22 years and 20,000 workers to complete the palace. (iii) After completion, all the workers hands were amputated to ensure no similar replication to Taj Mahal. That’s really cruel. And sad.

After the tour, we visited a marble factory outlet and learnt the similar painstaking skills required to carve various precious stones designs onto the marble slabs. I bought a coaster set for USD27, which showcases all the 7 stones used in Taj Mahal, to muse over this brilliant crafting. One of the stones turns blood red when a torch light is place on it at pitch dark. Nice.


CHAND BAORI

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On our way to Jaipur, we stopped to visit this historical monument. In a nutshell, it is a well-designed well whereby you can walk down the steps to collect water, irregardless of the water level. The only word to describe it is ‘magnificent’. Here’s some info from the signboard:

Locally known as Chand Baori, this magnificent stepped-Baori was build by Raja Chand or Chandra, a Nikumbha Rajput of Chahmana Dynasty who was ruling Abha-Nagari or Abaneri during 8th -9th Century A.D. This is one of the earliest baori in Rajasthan. The 19.8m deep baori is square on plan enclosed by pillared verandahs with entrance on the north. It has double flight of steps of its 13 landings from south, east and west while a multi-storied pillared pavilions approached by flight of steps from rear side on the north. Two projected niches on the lower storey enshrine the image of Mahishasurmardini and Ganesa. The pavilion at its upper level addition shows that this cool magical retreat was remained in use for a long period.


JAIPUR

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Jaipur is considered a shopper’s haven, but I didn’t really get that feeling. Maybe because we were really pressed for time, and there were too many maze-like lanes to check out. All in all, I bought mostly bed spreads (about 7) and about 6 pairs of shoes here.

But Ameer Fort located in old Jaipur was amazing. This is the fort which most people referred to as the “fort which has elephant rides”. Yes, you have various choices of transportation – walking with your own two legs, elephant ride or by jeep. The walk only took 15 minutes and much more aromatic – you'll get to inhale the pungent elephant poo. And if you’re lucky, you get some urinating showers on your legs. Doesn’t that spell F-U-N? Yeah, baby.

This is the only fort which we hired a tour guide. While the view was great from the top, I was captivated by the architecture and the intelligence behind it. For example, the summer room has some ancient water sprinkling system to cool the whole room. Then there’s the usage of mirrors as light reflectors – sunlight at day and candlelight at night.

And there are 2 main walls for the fort; the Sun Wall which faces east to greet the sunrise and the Moon Wall which faces west to mull over the moon. The male gender resided at the Sun Wall, and the female residents at the Moon Wall.

The sultan has also intelligently built 12 apartments for his 12 legal wives; 3 each on 4 sides. The number of illegal wives? Unknown. What’s interesting was he had a secret passage to get into each high-walled apartment. At any point in time, no wife of his will know his whereabouts. As the place consumed of such high sex drive, I was not surprised to see Kamasutra drawings on the walls. And honestly, I found them vulgarly gross.


PUSHKAR

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Pushkar was the fourth town we visited, right after Jaipur. It was not in our original plan, as I wanted to visit Bundi. But at the last hour, we decided to head there instead as Deepak; our driver insisted we would be bored to tears if we were to go to Bundi. Looking back, I am glad we made this route change.

It is a holy town surrounded by a lake, where bath rituals are practiced to cleanse away all sins and bad luck. 2 days prior, there was a controversy – apparently a Mat Salleh lady skinny-dipped in the lake and was therefore forced to leave town. Now the residents have to clean the lake water. Sigh. When I heard that, Boney M’s song comes to play “She’s looking like a fool. My my bloody fool!” Hm, what’s that? The song’s called “Daddy Cool?” Sure or not?

I particularly liked the lake shot, for a moment I was not sure if I was in India. It’s serene, and most of all made me feel peaceful deep inside. Inside my head – all the voices were muted. Inside my heart – the rhythm was soft.

Pushkar is my favourite town of all. I had the best shopping experience here. I bought a sexy silk dress for only RM6, another low-cut black dress for RM10, tailor-made a tunic dress for RM15, bought buckets of accessories including a round concave designed silver ring for RM40 and an expensive men’s silver bracelet which went unappreciated. Blah!

I brought my bargaining skills to greater heights here. Even the traders got scared of me. And some got tired and just relented with whatever price thrown their way. Here are some interesting remarks from the traders…

“Please Madame, you can chop my hands, chop my legs but please don’t chop my head! Your price, Madame – not possible!”

“Madame, you not only chop my head but you throw it outside of my shop!”

“With that price, Madame, why don’t you just take it free?”

“Discount, Madame? Take me home with you as the discount!”


And this one that takes home the award - “Madame, are you flirting with me?”
Gosh, all I asked was a price reduction. About 100%. That’s very reasonable, ain’t it?

When the traders find your pricing ridiculous, they will say, “Not possible.” I actually liked the phrase so much that I use it on my clients now. When they give me bizarre deadlines, I simply say the same to their faces “Not Possible”. It’s more refined than my usual “Cannot.” Heh.

And this is the only town which we felt safe walking after 9pm.

Dinner at the Moon Dance Garden Restaurant was awesome, especially the Moon Dance Sizzling Vegetable Special. And I classify it as C&G! Cheap & Good. I suspect the Nepalese owner must have liked Van Morrison very much, hence the name. We had lunch at his brother’s German bakery garden café in the afternoon (see below). We had chicken stew, steamed samosas and mixed vegetable with rice. Then a yummy carrot cashew & raisin cake gulped down with hot milky coffee.

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[Pixs courtesy of WH]

As we walked around the town, the western influence was apparent. There were a couple of German bakeries, lots of beer with lots of westerners roaming the street. I suspect some are permanent residents. Apart from being white, they dressed up more Indian than the locals. Pottu, sari, dhoti and such. Then there are the names of the hotels and eateries. There a Hard Rock Café and dig this – Pink Floyd Café & Hotel! Cool!

That night, I met an Italian gem trader at our hotel. He taught me how to appraise rubies, diamonds and other precious stones. Told me his life and travel stories, his family diamond business in Italy and his rise and fall in the business. It was then I asked him, “Are you a millionaire?” He chuckled and whispered softly, “Yes, my dear. In US dollars!” I nearly fell off my chair. I had earlier told my boss that I was going to meet a millionaire in India. And who’d believe that the prediction actually came true! His ruby ring costs USD7500. He also let me held it throughout our hour-long conversation. I was contemplating to keep it in case he forgot all about it. It would make a damn nice souvenir. But he didn’t forget - he asked it back. Cheapskate.


JODHPUR

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The only interesting place in Jodhpur was the Jodhpur Fort. For a fee of Rs250 (about RM25), you get pre-recorded guide info at various stops around the fort. From the top of the fort, the view of the plateau landscape of the township is amazing. You will see blue crystal-like speckles from the sporadic blue houses, which belong to the Brahmins.

If you ever visit Rajasthan, this is a must-see.


JAISALMER

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At Jaisalmer, we visited a well-known haveli (mansion) which has been transformed into a museum and trade house. The architecture, again, is very Indian [Aiyo. No need to say la!] and nice. It feels homier than the rest of the other places we have visited.

Then there was the Jaisalmer Fort, which is a township in its own right. This is the first fort which has residents living inside the fort. As it was on Diwali Day, you get lots of celebrative feel around the place. Lots of pooja at the doorsteps – which consist of various flowers and incense sticks on a small heap of cow dung. And there’s also the chilly ornament which is hung at the door to ward off evil eyes i.e. business jealousy. It is a made up from 7 chillies irrespective of color, one lemon and a small piece of coal.

This is actually one place where I took lots of handsome colorful pictures. You can say I was trigger happy. But the food here sucks though…


BIKANER

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Bikaner has 2 key places to offer – Karnimata aka Rat Temple and Bhandasar Jain Temple.

I’ve watch NatGeo documentary about the Rat Temple as well as seeing the Amazing Race participants squirming around the rats. So when Deepak asked if we were interested to visit it, I was game. And I have never been afraid of rodents; be it those on two or four legs. It is believed that if you get to see the white rat, good luck awaits you. But I have a feeling that the white rat has passed on, due to malnutrition. The rats are fed only milk & yogurt. In terms of size, I think our KL rats beat them flat! Seriously, ours can be mistaken as cats!

Bhandasar Jain Temple is the oldest Jain temple in Bikaner. It is believed that ghee (liquid butter) was used in substitute of water to mix the foundation. And there are lots of Jain scriptures on the pillars and walls. Since it was dusk, I took a couple of sunset shots from the roof top. Nice.

From Bikaner, we took a 12 hour ride back to Delhi the next day. And the car gave way. First we had a type puncture and then the air-condition conked out. Thank God the weather was kinda cool, so we were okay.

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These are 5 bonus shots which I’d like to share – (i) This was taken while we waited for the tyre to be repaired. Something to remember. (ii) Cow dung slabs by the roadside. These slabs are used for cooking; substitute to charcoals or woods. (iii) This tree looks as if it belongs in the Planet of Naboo. Weird, but nice. (iv – v) Some desert flowers which I think are gorgeous looking.


CHENNAI

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Chennai is closer to home, as most of the Indian forefathers in Malaysia came from southern India. And they all speak Tamil here.

When we reached Chennai, it has been raining for 2 days continuously. And there were floods in certain areas. I’ve never really experienced such long-lasting rain before. As the weather was not conducive for outdoor bazaar shopping, we spent the first day in Spencer Bazaar. We were there before the shops opened and left after they have closed. Shy also.

And we had steamboat for lunch and Chinese dishes for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Though it was not as yummy as those we get here, the stomach welcomed some clear soup with no trace of spice at all. But I did try the bhajjis as recommended by Visithra. (see pix of the man) It’s actually spicy stir-fried vegetable burger but it tasted bland for me. After 16 days of spices, my tongue cannot distinguish the spices anymore. They all ended up tasting the same. Sigh.

We met a very nice uncle at one of the sari shops. Methink he looks like Alfred Hicthcock.

Shopping was nice here. I bought a couple of silver accessories as well as a moonstone ear stud. My favourite place in Chennai would be Landmark mega bookstore.

I bought 8 books:
o Holy Cow – An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald.
o Karma Cola – Gita Mehta
o The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
o The Story of My Experiments With Truth – M.K.Gandhi
o The Noodle Maker – Ma Jian
o Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquirel
o What Ho! The Best of P.G.Wodehouse – P.G.Wodehouse
o The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl – Roald Dahl

The plastic bags from Landmark are worth keeping. It has lots of interesting trivia printed on it. Here’s some:
o The average human knows 5,000 words. John Milton used 8,000 different words in his poem, “Paradise Lost”.
o Mozart wrote “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” when he was 5 years old.
o Elvis once entered an Elvis look alike contest at an American burger joint. He came third.
o Jimi Hendrix, Jani Joplin and Jim Morrison were all 27 years old when they died.

It was also in Landmark that I heard the song that left a deep impression on me. It’s “Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt. I must say it is hauntingly beautiful. His voice was so sad, that I felt like reaching for his face, lick it with empathy and place his head between the bosoms as comforters. And I will always associate this Indian trip with this song like how I felt for “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake during my Paris trip.

On the second day, we visited Pondy Bazaar which was also recommended by Visithra. It was still drizzling slightly but we braved it anyway. We had breakfast at Pelita Nasi Kandar, which originated from Malaysia. You cannot imagine my delight when I ordered nasi lemak but the excitement was shortlived as that was the worst nasi lemak ever. And I had a bad case of stomachache as a result.

And I also saw the biggest banana ever. And it is red in color. I don’t know why but I kept thinking of Sting after that. Has it got anything to do with the fact that I was staring at his crotch during his KL concert on Feb 1? Weird.

After that incident, I decided to spend the rest of the day in the hotel watching God TV. They have 2 dedicated Christian channels here and it was spiritually refreshing. Some of the speakers were really good and I finally was able to watch Benny Hinn in action. I wish we could have those channels here, but that would be farfetched.

So that’s all I have to tell you about my trip to India.

You can wake up now.

Happy New Year, everyone! :-)

January 03, 2006 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 11:51 am
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