I am in Delhi, the capital. It is Election Day. Election Day is different in each of the thirty-one Indian States although they all take place within one month. Everyone over eighteen must register to vote and is given a voting ID card. There are many polling stations, one on nearly every street staffed by poll workers making it easy to cast a vote. And it is a holiday so the normally gridlocked streets are quieter, more manageable. Nevertheless, the city is alive with cars and buses honking, the clatter of rickshaws operated by foot or motor,
ubiquitous yellow and green three-wheeled taxis,
bicyclists, carts pulled by humans or horses,
pedestrians carrying all manner of goods on their shoulders, on their heads, all vying for the same limited space.
Women in beautiful saris, so much color, turquoise, purple, coral, red, bright yellow, bangles, rings.
The smell of spices fills the air- cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel- and mixes with the smell of sweat.
I fly to Jodhpur, the blue city, so called because the rich painted their houses blue. This sight is wonderful to behold from the Mehrangarh Fort high above the city.
The Fort has been run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur since the 1500’s and is filled with the trappings of Indian royalty.
During the long drive to the rural city of Siana, there are cows in the road standing stock still,
standing, smoking, cow dung, garbage, dust, potholes, speed bumps, slow-moving buses and trucks over-loaded, precariously overtaking each other, sometimes three abreast.
On Pradeep’s farm where I stay, the evening is breezy, early morning cool. I am awakened by the cacophony of peacocks screaming, horses whinnying, monkeys in the trees calling, dogs barking, farm equipment working, birds singing. Later, it gets hot, very hot. Feet burn, throat is parched. I ride a camel for two hours through the desert to the remote sheep herder town of Nabi and visit with the villagers, the school children.
Each of these experiences reminds me of the joy of travel, the thrill of being in worlds so very different from my own.