Chettinaid

Do you know the expression “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”? Well that was us today. The hotel creates this illusion of a comfortable temperature with thick stone walls, fans and breeze ways and lush gardens but outside the complex… the heat wraps around you and clings like an over enthusiastic lover. The sun beats down on your head and sweat gathers in the folds of your clothes and runs down your legs in little rivelettes. Then the dust insinuates its way into every damp spot until you look filthy, damp and disreputable. Linen goes from starched to wrinkled to limp in about 10 seconds flat. I have no idea how the women here manage to stay so neat looking – lots of practice I suppose.
 We wandered around the town a bit looking at all these semi-abandonded palatial homes – the area used to be a centre for major merchant prince clans who brought goods from all over Asia. Sad really all these beautiful places quietly mouldering in the heat. We stopped to visit a couple of weavers. These women work with cotton on looms which look like they are out of the middle ages and have wooden jacquard plaquards to make their woven designs – absolutely incredible – pictures to follow – one of these days. Connectivity issues again and I’m using the manager’s computer at the moment.
Indian dogs are an interesting phenomenon, they all seem to exist in varying shades of brown – khaki – some almost white and some quite dark but all with a similar build and attitude. They seem to have two speeds – flat out asleep anywhere it takes their fancy and trotting purposefully going somewhere….? I have seen them sound asleep and yet leap to their feet at the touch of a  wheel on their flanks.
Cows meander as they choose, when they choose and where. Quite amazing and most have a household they will go to, stand at the front door, usually right at the door and wait to be fed. Sometimes not terribly patiently either – one was banging on the door with her horns as perhaps her chapatis or gruel weren’t coming fast enough to suit!
Pigs simply run wild most places – big and small and they mostly look like wild boar – bristly black hair and smallish tusks. They always seem to be briskly heading somewhere as well… I don’t know what exactly happens to them as neither the Hindus nor the Muslims will eat them.
The goats in Rajasthan are majorly cute – they have sort of skirts of hair that hang from their back legs, long floppy ears and coats in camoflage – brown and beige, yellow and white and a multitude of variations on the camo theme. I like goats. Sheep on the other hand have to one of God’s more stupid creations – I can’t tell you how many times the silly things have dashed right out into the middle of traffic and everything comes to a screeching halt as some poor sheppard girl scrambles to get the flock back under control. AND they – the sheep not the sheppards – always look shocked and terrified to find themselves in these predicaments.
Yesterday we visited a major temple dedicated to Ganesh (The Elephant headed God) and I was completely mobbed by women and children. Barbara thinks it is because of my hair and I’m sure it is but also I think because I’m relaxed and I smile and am interested in them as much as they are in me – we seem to be equally fascinated. Besides they must see a fair number of fair haired foreigners. I suppose it could be a bit overwhelming if I thought about it but I just try to go with the flow. And besides here they all come to about my shoulder – I must really look like some bizarre strawberry blond giant.
I also got hugged by an elephant, which just goes to show how far I will go for my daily hug fix! It was actually rather nice, I gave him a banana, he gave me a blessing by putting his trunk on my head and then as it was quiet I stayed to “talk” to him and his mahout -I say “talk” because neither one spoke english of course. I can say a few rudimentary words now in Hindi courtesy of Anil, but here they speak something else and besides I don’t have any elephant! Anyway .. as I stood there sort of communing with them the elephant VERY gently wrapped his trunk around my shoulders, gave me a soft squeeze and then quietly turned his head to look at me from either eye. Amazing experience. Beautiful eyes and we are the same age!

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