Travelling with Angela Paine

Apr 11th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles
Moon Books author Angela Paine shares something of her recent travel adventures. she says….
Iwas in Bhuj, a small town in Gujerat. I went there to look at textiles, for which Bhuj is famous. There was such an enormous amount of textiles that I was somewhat overwhelmed. I travelled by train from Bhuj to Jodhpur, for the sacred spirit festival in the Mehranger Fort, an international sacred music festival, in a beautiful setting.  The music festival was one of the highlights of my journey. Another was the international literary festival in Jaipur, towards the end of January. In between I met a friend and we travelled by local bus through an area called Shekawati, north west of Jaipur in Rajasthan, looking at painted houses.
On the way to the bus station I stopped at the anda walla (egg seller) with free range eggs from the villages, who makes omelettes. The old anda walla was sitting in his chair, white Muslim cap on his head, shawl over it, wrapped around his soft white beard and around most of the rest of him.
“Him not come” he said, indicating the empty kitchen. “Sit. A few minutes.” I sat. “Young people late. I up early”. He told me that he’d travelled to Singapore, Penang, Thailand and Vietnam for holidays. “So egg business is good” I suggested. “I make enough to live” he said. I continued staring at the cow pats in front of the entrance to his omelette cafe, the bits of paper and plastic stuck to the ground, when an egg truck backed up. I watched as the egg delivery man untied the tarpaulin covering the stacks of eggs, slowly wound the string into a skein then wiggled his shoulders up and down a few times before starting to lift the egg stacks down for the man next door, who turned out to be my anda walla’s brother.
Still the omelette maker hadn’t arrived. Eventually at nine o’clock he ambled in and started making my omelette. I didn’t eat dinner the evening before so I was hungry.
The bus rattled through Kutch desert, which is covered in low thorn bushes and strange succulent plants that look like tall, thin cactus that grow in clumps. It’s very dry and the wind stirs up the fine dust and blows it all over everything.
The Jain temple at Kodai is an enormous white building with imposing pointed white towers, the whole place built out of white marble. The inner sanctum, a large circular space, has pillars carved with swirling designs covered in gold leaf, archways with embossed leafy branches covered in silver leaf. The ceiling is a series of circles, each with a different embossed design covered in silver and gold leaf with touches of red and green colour.
My first impression on entering this place was of the opulence of the gold and silver. Then I saw how new it all looked, indicating that the Jains who financed this building are doing rather well. This temple is an expression of wealth and power, just as the huge, imposing houses in Bikaner were built by the Jain community to impress.
The priest, wearing a white robe leaving one shoulder bare, like a Buddhist monk, and his female helper wore handkerchiefs over their mouths to make sure they didn’t inadvertently swallow any insects, as they put white petals on the statues.
The inner sanctum is surrounded by a courtyard which in turn is surrounded by a colonnade with many doors, each opening onto three white marble statues of naked priests, sitting in the lotus position with gold tipped nipples, gold earrings dangling from their elongated ears and gold headbands. They are so shiny and new that they look somewhat comical.
 I jumped onto another bus to Manvi, a strange ship building town on the coast. Half built ships loomed like skeletons along the shore, surrounded by pieces of teak scattered around haphazardly. I couldn’t see anyone working on the ships though Manvi was a hive of activity.

Angela Paine is the author of Healing Power of Celtic Plants

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Comment