Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Apart from this stroke of intelligence, the overall boarding process was a complete mess.
First they had exactly ONE luggage screening machine for passengers of all 5 ships.
2nd, passengers and luggage travelled separately to the ship and then the luggage had to be manually identified - there were no tags - something that couldve been done since the rooms get allotted at the time of booking!
And third - once luggage was identified they had one porter to carry people's luggage to their rooms - which meant most people ended up just carrying their own luggage.
This shop was recommended by lonely planet and its totally worth a visit.
They had an ancient shell as well as a rock from a meteorite!
We went w/o reservations (it isn't exactly a 5 star restaurant and even there I seldom go with reservations and have always been accomodated :) )
The manager told us that there was no way they could join 2 tables so the 9 of us could sit together - an attitude we didn't really care for. So we went and asked the travel agent on the ground floor if there were some other restaurants around since this one refused to join tables.
Turns out, he owned the restaurant and was shocked (rightfully) at the refusal. He shouted at someon and suddenly a table for 9 appeared.
I think this bad service is the result of catering to a largely french audience - they generally have lousy service too!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
It's surprising how good the roads are here. It seems the state government and the prime minister's grameen sadak yojna are bearing some fruits.
The villagers cannot really afford vehicles ( I saw 1 bike and 2 tractor total) but when they do, they have a road BETTER than most in Mumbai to take them to the big cities.
At the village we(means my relative who's a banker) talked to them about agri loans and credit stuff.
We got to see a whole panchaayat happening. Very cool. The villagers seemed to know their stuff and had lots of questions.
In the end an understanding was reached and things will improve for them. Awesome.
Very close to Jaisalmer and en-route to jodhpur is this wood fossil park where you can see fossilized trees from 180 million years ago - the lower jurassic era.
Wouldve been cooler to see some dinos too though :)
However, I think the presentation was drab with very little info about the place available.
I wouldve preferred big boards showing what we should be looking at and maybe an artist's impression of what this place might've looked like 180mn yrs ago.
Visiting the Patwa haveli in Jaisalmer. It's an awesome structure with mind bogglingly intricate work.
Infact, the designs of the carvings on the exterior can and are used on jewellery! The intricacy of the work is difficult to produce even on jewellery despite gold's amazing moulding capability. This was made possible because the haveli is constructed from sandstone.
The other mind blowing bit about this structure is that it has no usage of limestone or cement. The entire thing is built by interlocking of different parts. This means that you can simply dismantle the structure and rebuild it elsewher - yeah, like Lego
It took 60 years to build (1800-1860) and was commissioned by Ghuman mal Bafna - a jain trader. A total of 5 floors were built - 1 for each of his sons. The total cost was about 10 lakh rupees in 1800s money - which is a LOT. The architecture is a mix of Hindu and Muslim styles with the curved windows representing the latter and the flat plain windows the former.
He got the name Patwa because he had significant exposure in trading gold, silver, pearl and opium as well as running this silkroute successfuly.
Recently, it was bought by some members of that 'kothari' clan(for lack of a better word) for am ere 80,000 rupees rupees who gifted it to the ASI - this was to prevent it from being auctioned into private hands.
It is now under their maintenance - and they have done a pretty reasonable job.
It thus also known as the Kothari ki Patwa Haveli.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
It has AUTOMATIC drumming machine that is switched on to call people for the arti.
The temple is famous because the goddess ensured that all the pakistani shelling in this area was useless because the missiles/bombs/shells just wouldn't explode - there were 450 of them.
They have even put the recovered shells on display!!
Divine intervention indeed :)
While this photo is kinda useless (crappy BB cam) the sand dunes are the size of proper mountains. If you really want to know how tiny mankind is in nature's scheme of things, you don't have to go into space, just spend 5 minutes in the vast nothingness that is this desert.
Rajasthan seems to have a lot of 'asia's largest'
1. The largest man made lake
2. The largest library
3. And now the tallest stand alone TV tower
4. I think also Thar may be asia's largest desert but I'm not sure.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
The temple is famous for being a place that's crawling with mice - called kaaba.
The Rajasthani word for 'little boy/son is Kabba and kaaba is derived from that - the mice are considered as sons of the goddess.
Considering how dirty they are, it was surprisingly clean and absolutely un-smelly.
The 600 year old temple has never had a single case of plague in its history. Even when there have been plague cases nearby.
It is said that the mice of the temple never ever step out of the temple - which seemed true since before entering we couldn't see even one!
It is further said that the mice from outside the temple don't enter the temple either - something a LOT harder to verify - but probably giving a good explanation for their ability to escape the plagues - insulation/isolation.
The temple has a long 'parikrama' that spans 36 kilometers and apparently has to be finished in one night - this year 80k people finished it.
Interestingly enough, the lady forbid people to worship her through her entire life (150 years estimated) but ofcourse once she was dead, people went ahead and did it anyway.
Karnimata was not really interested in the social life but her parents were after her life to get married. So, she did what any normal goddess-in-the making would do - she married the king.
However, she probably didn't like the honeymoon destination or maybe the king sucked at seduction but the wedding wasn't consummated because she wasn't interested. So she got her sister married to the king as well so that THEY could have a normal married life - I think some minus points for lack of foresight of getting the sister married in the first place - especially since she was a goddess in the making.
Anyway, so coming back to the temple, there are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of mice roaming the place - so much so that first time visitors are advised to put their feet on the white tiles because its easier to spot mice on it - and avoid stepping on them.
Apparently its lucky to see a white mouse. I saw one - twice!
Don't care whether its true or not but its a good feeling :))