OK, so I’m back from gallivanting and just beginning to get my brain back up to speed to after some well-needed mental free-wheeling. Well, actually, maybe free-wheeling isn’t the best phrase – rather, I needed to get my head out of my thesis and back into the real world.
And what better place to escape from the ivory tower than to Rajasthan, northern India, former jewel in the crown. Here, my theoretical assumptions were confronted and summarily dismissed by the harsh practical realities of people struggling to survive amongst a billion countrymen all sharing a common, upwardly mobile, dream. Western rationalism met Eastern mysticism. Swirling scarlet saris, spiced sauces, sweet (and sour) smells sharply contrasted pale personal computing, drab digital logic and the dreary desk-bound slog of ‘writing-up’. Confronting a hoard of fare-seeking rickshaw drivers is quite a different problem to attempting to find a single bug amongst several hundred lines of code (though a similar level of patience is useful). Needless to say this diligent young PhD scholar took a few days to get up to speed…
However, once the common ground had been found (“My name? James… Yes, that’s right like James Bond…”, “I’m from England… Yes, that’s right we beat those Canadians in the cricket last week…”) everything went swimmingly. Upon meeting some young street cricketers in Jaisalmer during the second week it was beginning to feel much more like home. The game was just like I remember my summertime street-cricket – same rules (“6 and out”), same characters (tempestuous batsmen, earnest bowlers and lackadaisical fielders) – just a little hotter and dustier than the suburbs of Bristol.
Our ‘safari’ into the Desert National Park aboard chapatti eating camels was an opportunity to get away from the mayhem – a silent night’s sleep under the stars was welcome. But even in this more remote and inhospitable environment the population size and pressure continues to grow. The government has improved water supplies recently but even now there seems to be pressure on the limited resources.
Further south, the lake-side towns of Udaipur and Dungapur were much more relaxed than the manic Jaipur and Jodhpur. Here we had time to swim, and I to find out just how unforgivingly hard marble can be when when one lands on it back first. The grand finale of our tour was the majestic and ethereal Taj Mahal. It diffuses light like a cloud. And, I am adamant, it looks bigger the further you are away from it. Then it was back to Delhi for fond farewells and enlightening twilight conversations on the nature of being, reincarnation, Karma, Reike… Thanks to all the guys for their hospitality and the fun in Delhi.
I decided not to take my camera with me – I wanted to free myself of as much technical paraphernalia as possible. So all the pics here are thanks to Erin – permalinks to the others she’s posted are listed below. Now, back to some work and preparations for my viva and impending departure for CSIS at MSU.