Up late. It’s a free day today but we all opted to do stuff. So, we paid 640 rupees each (about six pounds) which covered the entry fee into a museum, a visit to an old palace, two off-roaders and drivers, our guide, lunch and chai.
We started off at a building which was almost like a labyrinth. We were the only ones there and explored the place like kids, climbing onto rooftops and taking far too many risks (health and safety hasn’t reached this place yet – thankfully).
Hopped into the off-roaders and carried on to the museum where our guide, Mr Chanderi has a wing named after him. He often collaborates with people who work with the British Museum.
Following chai in the VIP room (we were the only people in the museum) we headed off again and off-road to see some cave drawings. Passing though a village, with no more than five or six huts, we waved to some kids who had taken a break from the cricket match that they were playing with a stick and a stone. (I do wonder what would happen if these kids were put into the Oval against the best teams. Certainly they would win). We were near the river but (thankfully) saw no crocodiles. Worried that they might be looking at us though.
On the way to the caves we came across a goat herder who wanted us all to try a cigarette. It was tobacco rolled in a leaf (actually Mr Chanderi’s mum makes and sells them in Chanderi – we saw her last night in her shop when we popped by to say hello). So, given these dodgy looking cigarettes in the middle of nowhere, obviously we all went for it. They were not so nice, but then, I don’t smoke. Still, every cloud.. we all stopped worrying about snakes and crocodiles.
We crawled under caverns and ledges to see the cave drawings, They were phenomenal. Prehistoric of megolithic, I think. Untouched and colourful.
We sped off to a Jain temple with a huge monument carved into the side of a cliff face. Barefoot, avoiding the mass of bees on the ground, we pottered around. An angry monkey went for us and nearly got Robert, but Mr Chanderi and Robert scared it away.
Glad of my rabies shots, we journeyed on to a beautiful building on a lake where we had our picnic (prepared by Mrs Chanderi) of biryani, samosas, vegetables, chapati and chai. A busker but almost mesmerised us.
We returned to Chanderi. On the way we saw a funeral procession. The sadness and grief stunned me. Especially as earlier that day we had seen a wedding, our second that week. Pradeep, in passing commented to me that I have had enlightenment. As Buddha had, I had seen a wedding and a funeral in the same day. It was interesting as I know the teachings of Buddha fairly well and let’s face it, I’m here in part to prepare for grief. I figure that Varanasi will be my teaching, but I think I’m finding it may be in other places that I can learn. From the Jain monks, villages with people who have nothing, but everything. They are happy and giving. They have not got the pressures that I impose upon myself. They have the freedom that I think many of us crave and I certainly seek at times.
Back to the hotel. Pradeep became serious and suggested we all go to the medicine shop. No idea what he was on about, so plodded the 500m through the market street (to many stares, smiles, giggles and hellos, obviously) and he took us to the booze shop. Everyone bought beer and booze. A quarter bottle of rum was 110 rupees (one pound).
Bunch of boozers. ;o)
Back at the hotel for a rest. Washed my feet in warm water. At every Jain and Sikh temple we wash our feet before entering, but with the walking around on stone floors and off-piste onto muddy pavements, we should probably wash them on the way out too. Warmed up at the hotel, we watched a bit of Bhangra / Bollywood MTV.
Anyway, this evening we had a show put on for us in the hotel garden. An Indian / Hindu band played and a beautiful woman* danced for us and got us up to dance too. The locals clambered onto a nearby roof to watch. We all danced with her. The musicians were incredible. An amazing show.
Turn turn up the volume for this one.
*Then Pradeep told me that the female dancer was actually a bloke.