October 20 - November 20, 2009

Trip to India (Part 3)

Well after visiting Udipur; this was the furthest point south and east, we went in Rajasthan back to Jodphur for a couple of days and then up to Jasilmer; another fortress city - very fantastic as other places we had seen. As you go up to fort there are people selling goods of many descriptions - and a lot of Saddhus (Hindi holy men) - they are very friendly, smiling and have containers ready for alms. These guys are completely outrageous looking - some have their hair in dreadlocks, very long beards, faces sometimes painted and smeared with ashes - sometimes from cremated people I understand. They wear yellow or orange robes and are usually very skinny! Very easy to take photos of and photos with them - just make sure you give them Bakshish (a tip).

I decided to do a painting of the fort and where I set up they were doing some construction using stone or rock lintels. It was pretty quiet when I started the painting but some guy with red hair started chipping away with his stone chisel and hammer at the stone lintels - the noise was driving me crazy - I had to put up with it or forfeit the work I had already done on the watercolor. It also was interesting to see five guys wearing just sandals lifting ups these heavy lintels - no work boots or steel toed boots. We spent two days In Jasilmer and Jack was to drive us back to Jodphur. We went back and I decided to let up along the street to paint people as they went by I had Jack drive me to a desirable spot, got out my paints and told him to come back in two hours. I set up and stared to do the figure studies - a young man came over and asked me to come and visit his shop. I said no thank you and continued to paint the figures. Then he came back and said that's my motorcycle over there - come see it! I said no - by this time I was pissed off. I was enjoying doing people as they walked by, sat down along street or even came up to me. I did a young girl in yellow dress with pigtails. Soon a group of boys 11 - 15 years old came by and the kid who wanted me to see "his motorcycle and his shop" started to punch one of the kids in the group saying something in Hindi that of course I didn't understand. I told him to stop - he said he was a thief. Then all of a sudden an upscale four wheel drive vehicle had come and the "boys" got in it. They had a well dressed driver and I did figure it out - this was a group of organized thieves! My driver Jack came for me and that was the end of the work day for me.

A note on our driver Jack, a very nice person - he caught on to what subjects that I wanted to paint and took me to the best locations - he invited us over for dinner to his house, me his wife and two children - very bright teenagers, his daughter wants to be a doctor, son not sure. Jack his own water buffalo for milk and built his house out of stone by himself. He owns his own car which is rare in India. He's also a devoted Hindi and has a shrine in his house and prays to some sort of idol.

We took the all night train from Jodphur to old Delhi - All the first class tickets were sold so we went 2nd class and it was fine. I was concerned at first because our Indian co-travelers were on the cell phones (I hate cell phones) and thought they'd be up all night talking. I took my sleeping pill and never knew what happened but we got to old Delhi on time.

There were many items I didn't go into and had many interesting painting experiences in India. I praise the Lord that I had a most productive and enjoyable trip and am writing this in my office in Elizabeth Colorado, safe and sound. India is one of the most interesting places I've visited and the people were great as well. I wasn't able to go to snake charming school on this trip - that's for next time!

- Buffalo Kaplinski