Robin's Adventures

Adventures in the Asian Subcontinent

Dera Amer Elephant Safari is also for the Birds

Our elephant ride ended near an open air dining pavilion where we were served a buffet luncheon. The presence of food at the edge of a forest attracted many feathered friends to the feast. Some brazenly walked along the serving tables and others looked for morsels among the bussed dishes.

We saw some interesting birds, including a cuckoo shrike, a loggerhead shrike, a red-vented bulbul, and a rufous treepie.

Man Sagar Lake

Man Sagar Lake is an artificial lake that formed following the building of a dam on the Dharbawati river in 1610. Jal Mahal, or the Water Palace, is a beautiful sandstone palace that was built on the lake. It is a five story building, but when the water level in the lake rises to its fullest height, only the top floor of the palace remains above the water.

The lake provides a wonderful environment for migrating birds and we saw quite a few, including the western reef egret, the cormorant, the Indian pond heron, and the bank mynah.

Jaipur Open Air Market

The sights, sounds, and smells were all powerful as we walked through the outdoor vegetable market in old town Jaipur. The colors were vibrant and the vegetables were beautifully displayed on old tables or burlap cloths placed on the ground. Locals were carefully choosing what they wanted in order to make their purchases and there was much activity all around us.

More Open Air Market

The open air market provided some interesting sights. We noticed that many of the women wore toe rings and learned that this practice dates back to the 18th century and that the rings are worn only by married women. Often, during an Indian wedding ceremony, the husband places a ring on the second toe of both of his bride's feet.

We also observed that it is common practice for vendors to sit among the foods that they are selling. In addition, preparing or displaying food on the ground is not considered to be an issue.

Two women that we saw were carefully sorting through a large pile of beans, but we were not sure what they were looking for as they sorted.

Farmers' Markets in the states definitely have a different flavor and feel than the markets we saw in India.

A Little Monkey Business at Jaipur Open Air Market

The vegetable market that we visited was in a courtyard near some apartment buildings. Climbing over the rooftops, terraces, and balconies of these buildings were some very mischievous Rhesus monkeys.

We were told that these monkeys have become a real nuisance because they have learned how to open balcony doors, run into people's homes, open the refrigerator, and steal food.

The monkeys that we saw were very adept at climbing down the drainpipes and swiping food from the vegetable market.

Portraits of Interesting People

The people in India tell remarkable stories about an ancient culture in a modern world. Occasionally, during our travels in Jaipur, we were able to get a glimpse of some of those stories, even if just for an instant. What we saw left us forever changed.

Some Unusual Traffic

We decided to utilize the local transportation in order to get to the shopping bazaar. The vehicle, referred to as a motorized rickshaw, can travel at breakneck speeds of up to 30 mph.

As we were slowly moving down the street and delightedly taking in all the sights, a large brown cow began to overtake us.

Before we knew it, she had passed and instead of maintaining her pace, came to a complete halt in front of our vehicle where she proceeded to check out a large pile of litter and hunt for a tasty treat. Passersby kindly shooed the cow along and a major traffic incident was averted.

Shopping Bazaar

The Johri Bazaar is a large shopping area in Jaipur with more than 400 stalls and small shops. Each shop is about the size of a typical living room with floor to ceiling shelves along the periphery. The floor is covered with pillow-like cushions.

Customers remove their shoes, sit on the cushioned floor and the shopkeeper places items for them to consider on the cushion in front of them.

More Shopping Bazaar

There was lots of hustle and bustle in the shopping bazaar and things were very crowded. Snacks were also available for hungry shoppers from a variety of enterprising street merchants.

Sidewalk Entrepreneurs

We were very much surprised by the ubiquitous sidewalk service providers in India. We saw a sidewalk dental practice operated by two brothers on a busy shopping street in Jaipur. They had a small plastic stool and a plethora of dirty dental instruments. They were willing to pull teeth and make dentures while you wait.

Street barbers in particular were everywhere. Many simply spread a dirty cloth on the ground and laid out their tools. They provided shaves and haircuts at a very reasonable rate in a no frills environment.

As an added bonus, however, many street dentists and barbers also provide blood borne infections. A recent article in Discover Magazine cites a 2010 study that found use of street barbers to be a major risk factor for hepatitis B.