India: take a look
Rural Rajasthan is a riot of colour and noise. A full-on blast of your senses. Wonderfully, mentally exhausting, as your brain juggles to keep it all in. A complete contrast to New Delhi, Agra Taj Mahal: Take a walk through the monument of love or the slums of Dharavi. You can read about that here Dharavi Mumbai visit: the Slumdog Millionaire paradox.
Firstly, visualise a barren piece of land. Notice a dusty, crumbling road, some green grass and trees in the background. Imagine the hottest sun toasting your skin, simultaneously dry-burning and sweating. Feel a heavy humid air around you. Now, cram every inch of your picture full of half-built shops, wires dangling from the walls. Bring in shacks made from wood. Examine the stalls on the back of bikes. Stalls on the back of camels. Watch the carts meander by the edges laden with goods attached to anything that moves. They are everywhere in rural Rajasthan. Likewise, imagine vehicle crowded roads bumper to bumper, door to door with three ‘lanes’ of cars, tuk-tuks, riotous busses. Lorries adorned with bright paintings and slogans, huge tinsel toppers fixed upwards, downwards, hanging from windows, like flying Christmas trees.
Then, place hundreds, hundreds, of characters into your picture. Women in elegant, colourful sari’s orange, red, blue and gold, mirrored detail shining in the sunlight. Guys wearing suits, men sporting traditional white robes, teenage boys in jeans and shirts travelling 3, 4 at a time on motorbikes. Is your image full?
India: There is always room for more
Now, include the chickens, the cows, the sleeping dogs in the streets. The squirrels in the trees. Fill the sky with squawking birds. Include the snake charmers with their baskets of cobras, who, I am told, have had their venom removed. You can investigate if you please, I did not wait to find out. Lead in the busloads of bustling tourists all attempting to cross the roadway at once. The traffic will not stop. You must take a daring run out in front of it and hope for the best. Throw in erratic refreshing fountains from burst water pipes, with individuals gathering to wash.
After that, stroll down a side pavement to a Harry Potter Diagon Alley storm of local merchants. Rugs, material, cooking vessels, hard plastic children’s toys, fireworks, tea, spices, pencil cases, flowers, offerings for the gods in various forms; anything seems to go.
India: the smells and the noise
Then add the smells. Pungent seasonings cooking in the cans by the road. Fragrant spicy samosas frying in vast pots of buttery bubbling oil, spitting out on to the dry roast of the hot burning sand on the ground. Cheap woodsy aftershave mixed with sulphur-like sweat. The intoxicating sweet jasmine from the shrubs. Are you there yet?
Finally, bring in the noise. Horns, birds, sellers calling you to ‘look no need to buy’. The chattering woman gathered, making marigold necklaces. Old fellows passing by humming songs. The occasional “Oh my gaud” of an overly excited American visitor; there is always an astonished, loud American tourist. Hustling guides repeating their mantras in broken English. Street children shouting for you to check out their magic show.
Now – if your picture is crammed full, and the only free space is to look up to the vibrant blue sky, you have in your mind a piece of beautiful rural, incredible, India.
If you want to truly experience it for yourself; we booked our 11-day tour through Tour Radar (not on commission just think they are a great site!) Which also included our ill-fated tiger trekking trip Ranthambore Tigers: They don’t know it’s Sunday