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Global Music, Connecting Cultures Stories from the Rajasthani Road... from world music ensemble LIBANA

Road to Jaipur

USA | Monday, 28 February 2011 | Views [731]

This is my 3rd attempt to write this blog entry as the first two suddenly disappeared after I hit the ‘save story’ button (imagine my frustration!). So a little belately, here are my impressions on the road to Jaipur.

Driving time in our fairly comfortable 18 passenger van took approximately 6-7 hrs but we were so entertained that we hardly noticed the time.

We left Delhi early Monday morning (Valentine’s Day) ready for a new adventure away from the big city. After driving for almost two hours in heavy traffic we came to the outskirts of Delhi with its new high rise tech companies.  A little further on, the land opened up with most of the activity centered on the road which was teeming with life. There were cars, trucks so full that men hung off the back and sides, auto rickshaws (tiny 3-wheeled vehicles with no doors that hold 3 people comfortably though often are crammed with whole families), motorcycles carrying perhaps 2 adults with children wedged in between, horses, camels drawing carts of everything imaginable, elephants, cows, monkeys all engaged in this fearsome dance, weaving in and out with an awareness unfathomable to us of who will ultimately yield. Lanes seem to be mere suggestions. Often a vehicle would be barreling toward us at full speed only to veer off at the last moment. Generally it seems that the larger vehicle wins out. The rear of many vehicles display the words ‘PLEASE HONK’ indicating “Please let me know if I’m in your way so you don’t hit me.” And honking is loud and frequent and expected, seemingly much more friendly and helpful than it is in Boston. The Indian concept of space is so different than ours and there appears to be more tolerance for others getting in your way. Despite the chaos I saw no evidence of road rage. Our driver, Sonny, was excellent and later after he’d driven us to Barefoot College, we found out that he was also a great singer and dancer in a group called Punjabi Gangsters.

It’s hard to describe what we saw along the way – vendors beside the road selling anything from vegetables to washing bowls to hand-made ladders, women balancing heavy bowls on their heads, cows and camels, and everywhere dogs, lounging in the shade by the side of the road, the most primitive huts made from whatever was at hand, men cutting rebar for new luxury hotels and homes working on construction sites without any machinery, a gaggle of brightly colored schoolgirls, children waving and staring at the white folks on the bus, and many many people just hanging out drinking their Masala tea enjoying their leisure time together.

In the distance we saw vast fields of yellow and every now and again a bright color mixed in that, on closer inspection, turned out to be a woman in a sari bent over, harvesting the mustard seed plants. It really struck me that despite the poverty and difficulties that they face, women are always brightly clad in colors that stand out and make you smile and take notice.

This trip has been unforgettable. We are truly blessed.



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