Monday, 17 May 2010

Rajasthan - Ram Ram!

So from Queensland, I'm jumping five and a half thousand miles across the world to the Indian subcontinent.  India is such a massive country, with so many different regions and peoples, that it would be impossible to blog about it all in one go, so I've decided to start with Rajasthan. 

Rajasthan is one of those places I've always wanted to go to.  I've been to India before, in 2002, doing a three week trip Delhi-Mumbai-Poone-Kolhapur-Goa-Mysore-Bangalore-Delhi and I absolutely loved it!  Coming from Uzbekistan, where I was living at the time, India was a riotous explosion of colour and noise.  It was like my life before I went to India had been lived in black and white and with the volume turned down.  I didn't have any of the culture shock you would expect of a European, but then I had been living in Central Asia for more than a year.  Also, the cotton seed oil in Uzbekistan had made me Delhi-belly proof, so my trip to India wasn't characterised by having the runs! 

I got a real sense in India, more than anywhere else in the world, of a country that is self-contained.  With a billion people adhering to a centralised government, India is a world unto itself.  Events outside India might be vaguely interesting, but there is so much going on inside India, that the rest of the world seems barely relevant.  It's also the noisiest place I've ever been, except Goa, which is pretty tranquil, in comparison to the big cities.

And of course during those 20-40 hour train journeys crossing the land, you meet other travellers and listen to their stories.  Everything I heard about Rajasthan conjured up an image in my head that may be a little bit more than romantic!  I don't know a lot about Rajasthan, but in my mind it's a place where men in turbans ride horses across scorching deserts seeking sanctuary in the ancient citadels.  The names of the places conjure up even more romance - Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Udaipur - they sound like memories more than cities made of stone and earth. 

So that's where I'm starting my learning journey.  I have several books lined up, I'm going to learn about Hinduism and learn how to cook a Rajasthani dish.  I want to listen to some traditional music and, if possible, watch a famous Rajasthani movie.  I'm still not sure which music and movies are best, so any advice is welcome.  I'm also going to start following some Rajasthanis on Twitter - so if that's you, hello!

Above all, I want to lose myself in the exoticism of this journey - to be transported to a place beyond this damp English May.  I hope you'll join me as I embark on my learning journey. 

Credits

To calculate the distance between Brisbane and Jaipur, I used a website called http://www.mapcrow.info/

The amazing image of the nomads with camels in the Rajasthani desert was taken by flickruser Spyros P a.k.a. Spyros Petrogiannis.  Spyros has shared this image with the world using the Creative Commons License. 
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