Posts Tagged With: Rajasthan

Relaxing: Trees in the Desert and Letterbox in Jodhpur

I’ve just arrived in Corsica, the best place to have a rest and to leave the noisy and tiring city! It is a French “région”. An island to the South-East of France; like a mountain in the sea. One of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m not joking!

But today, nothing to do with Corsica! Let’s go back to Rajasthan!

Two relaxing photographs!

The first one must have been taken in Bikaner area but I couldn’t bet; I don’t remember! Look at the fragile fluffy twisted trees, the mysterious foggy background and the railway which one can hardly guess.

I took the second photo at the entrance of Jodhpur Fort. I like this photo: the red letterbox, the little tree and the blue sky in the background.

I find them both relaxing; full of peace and silence.

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Jaipur City Palace was in Mourning

The Maharaja of Jaipur, Bhawani Singh, died on the 17 of April 2011 in a hospital in Gurgaon near Delhi.

That’s why on the 20th of April, my dear cousin and I visited the City Palace, as fast as we could since the place had to close in the early afternoon for the funerals.

Now, the new Maharaja is called Padmanabh Singh and…he is 13 years old.


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Home Shanti Home

In Rajasthan, I like watching the small Hindu temples built along the road. There are also the cow dung huts, the bulky wells and the mysterious deserted petrol pumps!

A few kilometres before Bikaner, I saw a fascinating little place : a tree, a red flag and dozens of little heaps of stones and bricks scattered everywhere. What for? These little stacks actually represent houses. People go there to build a kind of house with stones and pray for having a home.

I found this really poetic and moving and a bit sad and desperate too. According to the different sizes of the stacks, you can imagine which families are the most ambitious or which families are the largest. But neither of them has a house!

But is the size of the stack determining? I don’t think so! Only the stack of good deeds must be taken into account!

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Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok: Holy Rats and Sacred Cows…

There are a lot of things to do in the area of Bikaner. You can take a jeep and go watching the rising sun and the does in the desert! You can also visit a typical village or a camel farm. There is also Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, and a few steps farther, the Shri Karni Goshala.

Before going to India I declared: NEVER! I will NEVER walk bare-foot among rats even in a Hindu temple! But when we arrived at Karni Mata Temple, I let myself go with the flow and the ambiance!

To be sincere, I did not find this temple really beautiful except a few marble carvings at the entrance offered by Maharaja Ganga Singh from Bikaner who wanted Karni Mata’s protection. I had the feeling of getting into a huge hamster cage! It smelt like a petshop! The only thing I liked was the floor which was made of black and white marble. The rats, also called Kabbas when sacred, were everywhere. They were actually little brown mice. Some of them were prostrate and looked sad, (Yeah, I am a rat psychologist during my spare time!). Worshipers had come with holy food called prasad. The place was less frightening than expected but it had no magic to me who does not worship Karni Mata.

Our guide told us that if we saw a white kabbas, we could make a wish and it would come true. I did not see any white rats but a brown rat saw my white foot (I cheated a little, I had kept my socks on) but I do not know what wish the rat made. Maybe it was a wish about bananas or laddu. Rats have little ambition!

Or maybe the rat wished he could become a bard again! Indeed the origin of this temple is based on a legend! Actually, Karni Mata really existed in the 15th century. She had miraculous cured her haunt so people thought she was the incarnation of goddess Durga. One day, the son of her bards died. She wanted to revive him but Yama, the god of Death said « No way! » because he had already been réincarnated. So, Karni Mata asked Yama to reincarnate all the people from her clan into rats so that she could keep them under her protection. And Yama agreed because it is always difficult to refuse something to a goddess.

Please, make a link to my blog if you use my pictures on yours!


Once we got our shoes back, my socks would be stained with kabbas poo for ever, we walked behind the site to visit a cow shelter called goshala (गौशाला). Go (गो) means cow  and shala (शाला) house or school. There are goshalas everywhere in India. There, volunteers look after ill, wounded or abandoned cows. Orphan calves are bred and bulls are trained to work.

This place was well-organized and really moving. Our guide did not forget to tell us once again that his name, Gopal, meant cowherd (I didnt say cowboy!) and that it was the second name of Krishna because he looked after the cows. You can see him (him is Krishna, not my guide!), drawn on the sign below, with his flute and his white cow. Actually, Krishna is not really a gopal, he is the son of a Prince but he had to be protected from an evil called Kamsa, so he was sent to live in the countryside and he was surrounded of plenty of pretty gopinis.



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Trishna, by Michael Winterbottom

I do not like reading reviews or summaries about films I intend to see. I instinctively guess which film is made for me and which film isn’t. I usually base my choice on the film maker’s name, sometimes his origins, his previous films or the theme he deals with. Which explains why I only go to the cinema five or six times a year.

As far as Trishna is concerned, I just knew it was the story of a kind poor girl who is manipulated by a naughty and wealthy man. Such a cliché would have made me run away from that film if I had not heard that it had been mainly shot in Rajasthan, an area I am fond of. I must admit I am not a Freida Pinto fan either; her sexy poses in fashion magazines seem a bit commonplace to me. So I was moderately enthusiastic as I was walking to the cinema, thinking that it would just give an article for my blog or whatever.

However, during the beginning credits, something drew my attention: « Film adapted from Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Ubervilles ». Oh dear! I realised we were not going to kill ourselves laughing for two hours! But that was fine! Hopefully, I didn’t know the end of this classic by Thomas Hardy, as I had never had the opportunity to read this novel although I love this author. I also remember watching the first part of Roman Polanski’s film on TV, but I had not enjoyed it at all.

The story starts softly. Freida Pinto is respectworthy and simple; she is a pretty servant from a Rajasthani village near Osian. Riz Ahmed is both elegant and disturbing as he plays Jay, an Indian mesmerizing daddy’s boy who cannnot even speak Hindi. These two characters will end up in the pleasures of the flesh of course, in an elliptic way for a start.

But I will not tell you the whole story which starts softly but goes on very slowly! Indeed, this film which rather looks like a beautiful TV documentary on India strangely lacks rythm, which could make the puzzled viewer wonder: What does the director intend to do? Except in thrillers, sluggishness has nothing to do with such a film!

Despite this apparent lack of rythm, Trishna is a film which makes people think. The themes that Thomas Hardy used to deal with are highly developed: first of all, the contrast between modern cities and traditional villages is depicted in abundance. Little naive butterflies like Trishna are dazzled by the lights, the frenzy, the chaos of urban life. But to be frank, I think Michael Winterbottom’s first aim was to make a film about India. So, he showers the spectator with innumerable pictures of the Indian society as Thomas Hardy provided his readers with innumerable descriptions of the English society. That is why people who have never been to India will travel for a few euros, discovering a wonderful collection of colourful postcards: typical Rajasthani villages, children running in school uniforms, goats and cows frolicking in dusty courtyards, jeeps speeding among garish rickshaws and overcrowded buses on bumpy roads, palaces and havelis converted into luxury hotels, Jaipur, its pink walls, its human tide, and terrible Mumbai, its huge white buildings, ugly, splendid, both harmonious and busy, swarming with dancers and so called Bollywood producers. All we need now is a little trip to the Taj Mahal! I guess the director has been refused the permission to shoot there or perhaps this symbol of neverending love has been considered as unsuitable for the story told in Trishna!

But let’s not forget the second theme treated in this film: women. Thomas Hardy and many of his victorian colleagues dealt with this inascapable subject; the evolvement of women in the 19th century. Even if nowdays, western women may be a bit too emancipated to correspond to this doomed servant-master love story, there are still countries where hopeless submission of low-class women for well-off bourgois is not just an artistic fantasy. Trishna is not the kind of woman to be married but the kind of woman to have sex with. Besides, Jay ruthlessly tells her there are only two sorts of women men can sleep with: servants and courtesans.

During her stay in modern Mumbai, Trishna tastes dancing and freedom. She meets artists, free young women… Suddenly, her master’s hand is not so soft. But it is too late. She is the lost woman from the victorian society. Jay leaves her and she locks herself in her attic – here, it is her lover’s appartment which looks down on the beach- as Bertha Mason and Catherine Earnshaw did it before her. Trishna cannot build a brand new life; she cannot rebel, she is trapped, she is docile, she is tamed. Her name, Trishna, has to be understood in its literal meaning now; she is just the beverage to quench her saviour’s sexual thirst. Jay keeps on leading her on the way of humiliation. Will she find a way out?

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Pushkar: My First Puja

Today, let’s remain near the water and let’s go to Pushkar.

I had my first puja there. It was short, it was a little puja for non-hindu tourists I suppose, but the place va authentic, the priest was nice, the lake was full and the ghats were quiet and almost deserted. The water of the lake was covered with rose petals thrown by worshippers. Some monkeys were hanging around the place but the staff had to chase them by casting stones at them because pilgrims were afraid. There were also cows, gulls and ravens. The monkeys did not want to leave. They were nibbling the roses on the water and sometimes, they skipped here and there, and they looked at us with their childish eyes and their short grandad beards.

Pushkar is one of the few towns in India dedicated to Brahma. Why so few places? There are different stories that I am going to tell you further, in another post. Brahma is one of the gods of the Trimurti : (= Hindu Trinity), he is the god of creation. No wonder he created Pushkar by dropping lotus petals onto the ground. According to French writer Catherine Clément, Brahma is a weak god. He created the universe, human-beings and the author wonders if he was not too exhausted after this effort of creation, which could explain his weakness. 

He lost everything for love, including his fifth head because of Shiva who had a finger in every pie, as usual! Brahma is not the most popular god. He is not a winner. He is not a big mouth or an aggressive character. That’s why I like him. He is a kind of anti-hero and I like anti-heroes. He symbolizes everything I admire: humility, mind, self-confidence, knowledge, wisdom, purity. Strangely enough, when I have a look at his representations, I feel he looks more human than any other gods, despite his four heads!

So we were asked to sit on the steps of the ghats. Married couples had to be on the left and singles on the right. The brahman gave us rose petals and my cousin next to me started to smell them with pleasure. The priest jumped at her and he started to shout a little, tapping her hands to make the impure petals fall. The petals were replaced, I stopped giggling and we started to pray. I am not a good prayer, I did not manage to repeat the incantations very well. There were god names. Then, the priest put a stain of vermilion on our foreheads, plus grains of rice. I took photos of myself and my third eye.

But it was not over! We also had a red thread tied around our right wrists. I was very proud of my red thread which became pink after two showers. My guide and other people met in India, had plenty of red threads and all the threads together looked like a big bracelet. I did not know I would keep my thread for about 6 months before losing it one day; I do not know where it fell. I wish I had been able to keep it in a box or in my photo album about India. I know it is childish but it does not harm anyone to be childish, does it?

 By the way, the fantastic childish artworks below have been made by myself! Don’t you thing they’re sweet?


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