Once again he tells me he's been working (I have) so there have been yet more delays to the blog and there's still lots to come, and I'm off to London Tuesday, so he'd better get a move on. (I know you're only a young bear but you must not think that every journey will be as exciting as India.) Get on with it.
Thankfully our day didn't start too early and we made a sedate journey through Rajasthan looking at all the farmland. This is a random view out of the window, but it shows something that everyone seemed to be excited about. The little dome in front of the house is what they were exercised about, can you guess what it is?
If you've been there you'll know, but if not I'll tell you. It's a stack of cow pooh! They were everywhere, in front of houses, on the roofs of houses, covered in mud, thatched with straw, round, square oblong, large and small. Now I know that cows are venerated but to the point of keeping their dropping seems a bit extreme - humans eh! (Actually they dung is dried in round cakes - the raw material is in front of the stack - and then it is stored and used as cooking fuel. Of course cows in India and Africa have much drier dung than ours so it's easy to dry out.) Oh well, it keeps the streets clean because there are cows wandering everywhere, and they're not house trained.
Our next port of call was the lovely town of Mandawa. We stayed in a castle and our room had an amazing bed in it. Here we are waving at each other across the bed-head. Alan, meanwhile was relaxing in the wall, reading his book. He could do that because the wall was over a metre thick and had a recess in it with cushions in, so it was possible to relax in there for a while prior to going out for an evening stroll through the town. At least Alan and Ann went for the stroll - we were left behind, oh the indignity of it. (So sorry wee bear, as we explained at the time we were both concerned about the street children who all wanted to take you home, and we didn't know what to expect.) Well, I suppose so, but you told us later we would have been alright, so not fair I say. (The dramatic turn of events at the end of the walk might not have helped either.)
So what did they see - Hephalents, that's what, well pictures of them. These are painted on the walls of merchants' houses or Havellis. These Havellis were built about a century ago by merchants who had come from Mandawa and moved to Delhi to make their fortunes. Over the years the houses have become poorly maintained, but now they are being done up again. The main feature of the houses is the wonderful paintings. I particularly like the hephalents, don't you? They all seem to have a monkey riding on their backs and someone with a blue face, a bit strange, but fun. (You have to read the Ramayana to understand, but the monkey is Hanuman and the blue face person is Vishnu who came to earth as Rama, and had all sorts of battles with the demons in Lanka, helped by his brother and his friend Hanuman.) Too much detail I just wished I'd seen them.
Then there are other fun paintings. This one shows a strongman who famously held back a motor car.
This one shows that Rama could be a bit naughty. One day he was out walking and he spied some maidens bathing in a river, so he stole their clothes and put them up a tree, where he sat playing his pipes. Well the maidens weren't pleased, especially when he said, "If you want your clothes, come and get them! I'll just sit up here and play my flute." That was naughty wasn't it, though it must have been fun.
In this picture Rama is riding a strange hephalent, because if you look carefully it's entirely made of beautiful young maidens!
That's not the dramatic bit by the way. Everyone was enjoying the show, the magic book, the disappearing coin and the far flung ball, when suddenly - THUD - down went Ann like a log. The poor wee magician thought he'd done something, but she'd just fainted.
It was a bit warm and she'd had a gippy tummy. One minute she was watching the show and the next she was flat on the ground. Everyone rushed to pick her up and Alan was telling them to put her down of course. She soon came round but had lost her specs. So then there was hunt the glasses, with people shuffling backwards across the yard. Again Alan had to say "Don't walk backwards please." The glasses were soon found and Ann was restored. She was fine but it didn't half cause a stir. The only thing to show for it was a big bruise where she landed on a stone.
Everyone was most kind and concerned for her, but Ann really was alright.
Lily and I got all the story when they got back, and we had missed all the excitement.
In our next instalment we got to see what was happening and you'll get to see all about our trip to Shimla in the Toy Train. If that was a toy I can't imagine how big a real train is. (You were on several real trains and they were very very long.)
Bye for now,