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between a rock and a hard place

Abu Road, India


Time flies in the heat. After a very trying train journey I’m back in Jaipur for my final week of ‘classes.’ Before that, we spent a wondrous three days in our personal retreat of mount Abu. The most fun thing about the place (besides the cooler temperature and mountain beauty) was the fact that it was chalk full of Indians, Indian tourists that is. Mt. Abu is less visited by foreign tourists because of its out of the way location, but functions as a giant resort getaway for Indians. It was highly enjoyable to be just another one of the crowd of tourists, treated differently only when people wanted to take pictures of us with their babies.
We had an incredibly characteristic experience of India when we climbed to Sunset point to, surprise, surprise, see sunset. It wasn’t even a remotely relaxing or romantic experience though, since several hundred other Indian tourists were making the same treck. The whole thing was like a festival, with men selling corn on the cob, blackberry cups, horseback rides and cart rides. (Rickshaws aren’t allowed on the mountain so the absence is filled by horse wallas and wallas with ‘helicopters’--as they told us--which are essentially shopping cards with little wooden seats inside for two people and are then pushed by some poor old guy up the hill.) At the top of the hill, we all bustled to find appropriate seating followed by a very noisy sunset experience and then a mass exodus back down the hill. It’s the Indian way.
By far my most favorite experience of the resort weekend was our half-day trek into the hills. On the way we saw the old dam built by the British and which still supplies the whole town with its water. We were told we would be given a chance to go caving on this venture as well. Caving, it turned out, involved squeezing along on my belly under a boulder for approximately two minutes. Yep, pretty much crawled under a rock. Literally. I guess I should have known it wasn’t the best idea when our guide told us he would meet us on the other side…
We were accompanied on the hike by a young Canadian named Curtis who entertained the way with stories of festivals in the US I’ve never heard of, including the rainbow fest which occurs each year in a changing and unnamed national park (so authorities can’t prepare to stop it from occurring) and apparently involves a very large hand-holding circle in valleys and excessive ooohming.
The last leg of the trek involved a 750-step climb down to see the guy muksh (or cow face) spring fountain and hindu temples. Speaking of leg, it was my legs crying out in pain for the next few days. And to think I used to do 750 steps on the step machine back in Houston without too much problem.
On Thursday, Betsey and I will be off on our final journey. We will take an air-conditioned train (I know, air conditioned, isn’t it exciting, and that’s class 3 AC for those who are interested) to Varanasi for a few days--you know, to the see the dead people. From there it will be on to Darjeeling. I’m torn which is better…loads of good tea or views of the Himalayas. Hmmm. I guess I’ll found out soon enough.

permalink written by  Drie on April 23, 2008 from Abu Road, India
from the travel blog: Adventures in Hindustan
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