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Pilgrims’ Progress

I’m going the tourist route here, so music people relax please.

On the road to Jaisalmer, on the edge of the Rajasthan desert, from the moving car, the camera performed like a champ.  Here’s a group of religious pilgrims along the side of the highway, part of a line that went on for miles.

Proof you can be in two places at once: the Eifel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

One pitstop was a Desert Camp.  These cater to tourists, but even locals are skinned 100 rupees for a tea!  Ah, but the sheer beauty of the dining room…

Speaking of room – take a room that is about 12’ x 12’, pack it with 16 people, and whataya got?  A puppet show.

We got a intimate demo of carving the puppet heads, a rundown on the major characters, some face-based acrobatics (balancing on upper lip) and a manic Indian Jerry Lewis barking “one, two three” as he wowed us with some close magic.   I’m working without a net here (internet), but the puppeteers are lower cast Harijans, the ethnic group Naga, and they are represent generations of puppetmakers and manipulators. The language of the puppets is an expressive squawking produced by a boli (split wood mouth whistle) and a bell chain worn around the wrist.  Usually six strings to manipulate, fingers only, subtly and beauty assured.

Translations are sometimes pleasantly muddled, like a list of small treats on the hotel menu labeled ‘snakes,’ or the motorbike rental people suggesting you “Rant a motorbike.”  The ‘Om nan’ was less a religious experience than an omelet on bread.  Of course you don’t always need to spell it out: here’s a good luck sign (hex or yantra) being drawn on the entrance floor of Jaisalmer Fort.

Jodhpur calls itself the ‘blue city’ to draw in tourists who have already visited the ‘Pretty in Pink’ Jaipur.


    • bgeorge

      Yes, brain freeze once back in cold, hard NYC! Thanks for the correction. And thanks again for the great tour and conference!