Where Can You Go In India?
Rajasthan train is the way to go in this part of India. If you drive any distance in rural India you “get it”. A train ride cannot be beat for getting around expediently and without worry of accident. And they are more or less timely, given the part of the world you are in. A Rajasthan tour is probably tops on most “what to do in India” lists. Blue City of Jodphur, Pink City of Jaipur, Ghats of the Ganges. Princely states, harems, ladies palaces, all can be seen easily by Indian train. Most of these sites can be seen in a busy, but not frenetic week of Rajasthan train travel. The largely intact forts and palaces are full of centuries old antiques from elephant palanquins to ornate hookahs. After the tiger safari, riding an elephant up to a palace, marching around a fort and a smattering of local colour side trips to equally fascinating Fort Chittaugarh (Fort Chittor) and erotic Khajuraho temple can be easily arranged by India Rail.
You can get a view of the Indian countryside outside of the teeming cities. In the middle of nowhere you will be surprised to see an Indian Rail employee who looks like a local farmer, and most likely is one. He may be quietly waving a flag with full sense of purpose having fulfilled the days rail duty. Occasionally there will be children playing or locals just gazing at the wonder of the train lumbering through their regular schedule. So take in the big sites but be sure to admire the everyday living in this exotic and colourful land.
For more on Indian railway travel, see also:
Siberian Girls Like Pigeons Too
Get Low and Get Perspective
Siberian girls like pigeons. And pigeons like Siberian girls. It is a mutual thing. Simply put, one desires food, the other desires entertainment.
Especially if the girls have avian food. Stomach motivated, like most of us. If you are a stout-bodied, hungry chick with short legs you may need help, or may think you need help, with the next snack. Pigeons are attracted to humans with seed packets and Siberian girls with sunflower seeds are answered prayers. Delectable kernels of cereal preferred. Cultivated crops for avian scroungers. Bagged, bitty morsels.
Girls can get distracted with their own playmates, engrossed in their mutual activity. It happens to all of us, from time to time. But, just as likely, children can become absorbed in the distracting motion of the fluttering bird as a potential play thing. Stomping at and chasing the new fascinator. Before you know it the birds are playing the game, usually unwillingly but that can be the centre of fun for these Siberian girls.
You can become a little partial to pigeons too. If you take a hint from the birds and keep a lower perspective you just may get the shot of girls and birds at play. Get low and get a pigeon perspective of the world. Grovel with the birds a little. You will be glad you did.
For more on people and pigeon photography, see also:
Pakistani Dress Elegance
Marina in Magenta and Burgundy
For Pakistani dress elegance, Marina models and describes some traditional and modern styles:
Magenta Shalwar Kameez
My mum had the Magenta Dress made a little over 25 years ago. My grandparents basically had a dozen or so fancy outfits made for my mum so that she would have some nice items to wear for special events and what not. This dress in particular is called a shalwar kameez The kameez was the long shirt that I was wearing with slits on either side. A shalwar is basically a pair of pants that goes with the kameez, I don’t know where the shalwar went for this outfit. The entire dress was hand embroidered with bead work on crinkled georgette. I wore leggings with the kameez because nowadays its okay to mix and match. Some girls in Pakistan wear leggings with fancy dresses. Leggings are similar to another type of traditional shalwar called churidar.
White Kameez with Burgundy Dupatta:
I bought the white kameez from a very popular Pakistani online boutique called Khaadi. This kameez is more traditional, less trendy, and often worn on a daily basis (less fancy- without the embroidery). The Dupatta (long scarf) is, in my opinion, the touch that makes the outfit. My mum had it made from the same designers/tailors that made the magenta shalwar kameez 25 years ago. She had a few others made in the same style to wear with plain shalwar kameez. It is completely hand embroidered! This type of embroidery is called Tilla. Tilla embroidery has a heavy Mughal influence and is done by using a fine needle and gold or silver thread. This dupatta was made using the Karchobi technique. Embroidery was considered a very high art form in the past. The Mughals were all about opulence and art; it still is, but sadly, machines have taken over much of the work of artisans. Here is a really good article on this topic:
The pants that I wore with this outfit are more of a western play on the traditional shalwar. They are more fitted and cropped like capris. The shoes are called khussa, brought last year from Pakistan. The pair that I have are not as fancy, I do have ones that are beaded. Khussa are traditional handmade leather slippers-also heavily influenced by the Mughal empire. More information/history can be found here:
For more on traditional costumes from around the world, see also:
Arshan Siberia People and a Few Cows
Mountain Town Sublime
Arshan, Siberia is a mountain town nestled at the foot of snow capped Sayan Range. There are a few things that you should know before you venture up the less beaten track from Lake Baikal to experience it.
Water – Arshan is famed for it and visitors come from all over Russia for the water experience. The name Arshan comes from the Buryat word for “spring”. People come to gulp it, there are bottle filling stations everywhere. If they are not imbibing, they are partaking in it, in a spa sort of way. If neither or both are for you, you can also take in a hike along a mountain stream if you do not want to drink or immerse in it.
Yawn – if it is nightlife you want, you had better take the next bus back down to Lake Baikal. Better still, head on back east to Ulan Ude or west to Irkutsk, where you might be able to find a semblance of nightlife. Otherwise, you will be stuck listening to the boom box output of visiting Russians. Besides vodka, it is part of the remote vacation experience in Russia.
Kids – They make it easy. Discover community life through the eyes of the children. Whether visitors or locals, around the world, curious and innocent, naive and open, kids are kids.
Outdoors – it is a nature kind of place with hikes in some of the purest air available on the continent. Take a breath.
Vodka – is more available than groceries. Walls of it. The convenience store walls are reserved for vodka and the small display case in the center has edibles. Vodka prevails over food, get used to it.
Cows are almost as available as vodka. You can meet them on the main street, in the back alleys and just about everywhere else. If the owners do not pay attention to them they come calling.
For more on travel in Siberia and Russia see also: