17 Dec 2009

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Everyone who has spent a longer time in India, will know what I mean when I say that it's not easy to find things here that are completely straight, completely done, completely thought through. Measurements won't be completely accurate, something will be overlapping, some gaps will be seen in another place, some paint will drip on a new floor, new pipes will get clogged in no time etc. etc. But something that is always perfect - vegetable and fruit stalls. All onions will be carefully arranged in a shape of a perfect pyramid, all vegetables will be clean. If only so much attention to details was given everywhere in India... I think this picture shows the contrast I am talking about pretty well :o)

14 Dec 2009

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Festival of Festive Music 2009 @ NCPA

Yesterday we went for a lovely Xmas music concert at NCPA Tata theater. There were several choirs participating at the festival and all of them did a really great job, lots of "goose bump" moments for me, but Stop-Gaps stole the show. Great energy, beautiful music, the cutest kids in colourful costumes and even a dog, all in a background of nice Xmas decorations. Aaahh, now I am ready for this holiday season, even if I won't see a single snowflake once again :o) I had earlier posted on their Broadway show here. Now I am looking forward to their next show around Easter. Highly recommended!

1 Dec 2009

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Konark Sun Temple, Orissa

Konark Sun Temple dates back to the 13th century and it is one of World Heritage Sites. It was built in a form of the chariot of the Sun god (Surya) with twelve pairs of wheels and seven horses pulling it. It has amazing stone carving decorations all over the walls. The first thing you notice at the entrance are giant lions that are crushing elephants that stand on the top of human bodies. Next, you see elegant carvings of different dance poses and musicians -- that's were dance performances used to be held. Later statues of humans and divine figures in different erotic poses derived from Kama Sutra start. I don't know whether to believe it, but our guide was telling us that the reason for the erotic statues was very low population of Orissa state after several wars. If that is the case, all I can say that it worked brilliantly! Achieved the goal and then some more... :o) There are also numerous detailed war and daily life scenes including animals as well as floral and geometric patterns. Unfortunately, the temple suffered a lot of damage when Orissa was attacked by a Muslim king in the 16th century, but you can picture it's glorious past. Worth a visit!

26 Nov 2009

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Fairy-tale Wedding

Nothing is as spectacular as an Indian Wedding. And this one was the wedding to remember!

24 Nov 2009

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Traditional martial arts performance in Konark, Orissa

While visiting Sun Temple in Konark (state of Orissa), we were lucky to get to see a performance of traditional martial arts - Paika Nrutya. Paika means battle and nrutya means dance, so this form of dance is an enactment of a battle. A group of men wearing traditional clothes and playing drums were enthusiastically cheering and shouting while building different human pyramids and performing other feats with what looked like a heavy wooden wheel. Traditionally village warriors used to perform this dance to pump themselves up before going to battle. Both the sight and mood were just great!

19 Nov 2009

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What I used to go to see in a ZOO...

It's not just vehicles using the roads and not just tourists hanging out at historic sites in India! While I get to see only cows and goats on the roads of megacity -- Mumbai, Jaipur was way more exciting. Like a little kid I was screaming in excitement "Peacock! Peacock!" And then, of course, there are camels and elephants everywhere and after while you even stop noticing monkeys -- so many of them :o) We could not believe that our safari guide in Jaisalmer said that he had never seen a monkey, but then, we didn't see one there in a desert as well... Here is the fauna of Jaipur :o)

18 Nov 2009

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Laal maans @ Trident, Jaipur

Isn't it interesting that in this mainly vegetarian state - Rajasthan - I might just have tasted the best lamb dish in my whole life so far!? It is called "Laal maans", which literally means "red meat" and is traditionally prepared by cooking lamb for a long time in a simple masala that mostly consists of only red Rajasthani chillies, salt and ghee. We read amazing reviews and decided to stop for a lunch of laal maans at Trident hotel (Jaipur), which calls it their signature dish. It was out of this world and worth every rupee, even though the restaurant is quite pricey and we didn't dare ordering anything else ;o) They use spring lamb that is first smoked with cloves in a tandoor and then slowly cooked for a long time in the masala. The meat was so soft and the smokey flavour worked very well with red chillies and cloves. It is served with curried chickpeas, spinach-yogurt potatoes and Indian bread of your choice. One portion is big enough to feed two hungry tourists :o) Recommended!

13 Nov 2009

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The two small villages (population of ~300) we stopped at on the way to the desert were quite clean and picturesque. The first village was half Hindu and half Muslim. While they all get along well, they settle down only on the side of the village where their community stays. There was an imaginary line. All houses were built using cow dung, mud and water and then the wall were painted and decorated. There was a lot of cow dung drying in piles all around, it is also used as fuel. Families are big and there is not enough space for everyone to sleep inside, so they put blankets on platforms outside and kids sleep there. For Diwali they had a celebration where visitors from other villages came, they cooked a couple of goats and ate them all together. Each village had a school and a doctor. Only men work and women take care of kids and households. As one old uncle was telling us: "All they do is bring water and make chapatis. Foreign women work, it's better for the men there..." :o) Well, I am sure that these women work hard as well, it's not an easy life.

12 Nov 2009

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Ek photo!

We stopped at a couple of tiny villages on the way to the dunes in Jaisalmer. There we were met by a bunch of cute kids. They were running to us and first were asking what our names were. After we were all clear that my name was not Raita, but Jurate and they all told us their names, they would start asking me to take one picture of them ("Ek photo!"). Entertainment of the day for all of us was taking a picture and then showing it to them, which was followed by lots of laughter. Then it turned into them taking pictures of me :o) Btw, it was good to know that all of them were going to a school. We felt bad that we didn't have any pens with us that we could give them... Here are a few of my favourite pictures from that day.

11 Nov 2009

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It's legal in Jaisalmer

They are very proud about Anthony Bourdain from No Reservations visiting their shop and are selling his DVD... along with flavoured lassis, milk shakes, juices and cookies with bhang :o) Bhang is a milder form of Marihuania, for which only young leaves and stems are used.

6 Nov 2009

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On a camel safari in Jaisalmer...