Notes from Bhuj, Gujarat and Rajasthan in India

Guest blog from my Japanese friend, Nobuko, who seems forever traveling.

22 June 2012

Still in Bhuj. It is a small town, but people are very nice and smiley.  Shop keepers are friendly, but not aggressive at all. Many times I have to wake them up from snoozing to buy something. Or, they invite me in to have a Chai and chat even if I don’t buy anything from them. How nice.

I went to another small town called Mandvi. Its by the ocean, where ship making is the main craft. An Indian guy named Shahid and his friend I met at the guest house had some things to take care of in Mandvi, and invited me to tag along. They are in the textile business, so I got to see Batik and tie dyed. Before heading back to Bhuj, we stopped at a beach where one can ride a camel or a horse if desired. Shahid insisted, so we rode on a camel. It is so tall when it stands that I was a bit scared.

23 June 2012

I went to get a hair cut. There I met a 20-year-old girl name Boomi. She invited me to her  house for a Chai. I met her parents and grandpa (who spoke very fluent English). The family invited me again for a home-cooked Thaali lunch the next day. Needless to say, I went.  It was like a version of  All You Can Eat at someone’s home. They stuffed me with all sorts of great Indian food. I tried butter milk, which is sour, but helps to sooth the fired tongue. After lunch it was insisted I lie down. It first felt kind of rude to lie down after eating so much of their food, but I did. I think the family was pleased that I ate a lot. If that is the key to making friends in India, I’ve got what it takes – I love food!

24 June 2012

In the evening,  Shahid and I went to see a Bollywood film called Teri Meri Kahaani. The story line was very simple, so I kind of got what was going on.

25 June 2012

I took the train from Bhuj to Abu Road to go to Mount Abu. It was a second class (not fancy) sleeper. The route it took was so hot, that my body did not stop sweating for the whole 12 hours I was on it. I was given an upper berth, which is out of traffic in the corridor, but also the hottest place. After several hours I could bear it no longer, and went to a lower berth by the open windows.

Indian people stare at me pretty intensely, but once I get to within their reach proximity, they are very friendly and strike conversations. Some even offered me food (One of the best Chapatti I have ever eaten). I was used to going to a bathroom on the moving train in Japan, but the idea of doing the same on second class train intimidated me for many reasons – until I finally had to go. Actually it was not bad at all. I think the toilet bowl design is pretty good, so minimal to none, hardly any “splashing” occurs… an important factor when you squat with long pants.

26 June 2012

Just after midnight, I arrived at Abu Road. From there, to ascend to Mount Abu is only 30 minutes, but there was no taxi that would take me with lower than 800R (a night at the hostel is 300 – 400 R, and a meal is 30-80R, so 800 R seems outrageous). A tuk tuk driver was nice and took me to several hotels to find one that won’t charge me an arm and leg. I ended up at Hotel Kanul. This morning, I took a collective taxi and finally arrived at Mount Abu. The town sits at a 2000-meter altitude, so it is very cool – a nice change from the hot weather down below.

Gujarat people are very nice and friendly. People I pass on the street sometimes want to take a picture with me. The only other place this happened to me was in Colombia. I have not received any insulting slurs,  or it could be because I don’t understand the language… And just because I am from another place, people invite me to their house and want to sit and sip Chai with me. Now I am in Rajasthan, I will get to see if people here are different from the Gujarattis. I love India so far!!