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Jaipur to Kishangarh

Still struggling with a cold today so I didn’t ride. Went along on the lunch truck instead with others fighting off colds and we set up at a Jain temple near the halfway point. I was resigned to a long boring day.

I was wandering around another temple site across the street and we were trying to figure out what it was. There was a young man there watching us. Namaste. I was looking around and saw a carving of Ganesh on the panel around the ceiling. I just pointed at the temple and said Ganesh? He nodded his head sidewise – like ear to shoulder – which apparently can mean either yes or No. But in this case it may have just been a polite way of acknowledging that I asked a question.  He beckoned us over and took us around back inside a closed room, and then we took shoes off and he ushered us into two shrines. They were long and narrow and pointed on the top and covered with a green cloth. A shrine to a god I could not catch the name of. We felt very privileged to be invited in.

By the time we left word has spread through the village we were there and the crowd was starting to accumulate. We were setting up next to an intersection of a road and a dirt path that connected several villages. It was next to a reservoir. Basically we had plopped down in the center of everything.

Maureen and I decided to walk down the path, and a crowd of about 10 boys followed us. They gestured and led us through a gate made of brush – it led to a deep round well. We wandered down the path further and they gestured and led to the side – to a shrine decorated with flowers. Three low, flat alters.

The key four personal guides

By this time we were being fully escorted on a guided tour – another well, here try these fruits the parrots eat. Giggles when I do.  Two of the boys were students and had good English, and when they got over their shyness they tried to answer questions and tell me about their village.  The big deal in town was the new well- they were very proud of that. The reservoir goes dry in the dry season, and so while they still lead cows and livestock there to drink, the well has helped with irrigation.

They showed me the garden, and dug up some beautiful carrots and radishes and gave them to me.  By this time there were 20 around and photos was fun. They stopped people and asked if I could photo them. Many people requested to be photographed. It was a fun couple of hours. Then they turned the tables and pulled out an amazing number of cell phones and wanted photos with me.  I was introduced to many people from the village, presented with marigolds and by the end a few earnest declarations of love, though I think it was meant in a warm way and not literal and definitely seemed meant more as trying to I like you and just getting the nuances of the English wrong. ( I was also questioned about who my husband was and where was he? John, and I left him at home:)

The Village Gardeners

Most were schoolboys who were apparently skipping school … oops. I met their teacher when he pulled up on a motorcycle no doubt wondering where all his students were.

Our lunch stop had turned into a party by now including a boy who brought a drum and played music for everyone. He was amazing.

Warm people.  Trip making experience. Beautiful country. Powerful faces.

Leigh Pate
Leigh Pate is a writer, former political consultant and two time cancer patient and cancer research advocate living in Seattle, WA

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