Shanka was a good guide. (Here he is checking his cell phone.)
He showed us around and walked us through the houses – being sure to indicate in which rooms I would go to get the best painting photos.
I took many others, as well.
Shanka also asked to take many photos of Mike and I, and asked why we weren’t married, because I had a “nice smile”. He had me take his picture with Mike and instructed us to please tell all of our friends about what a good guide he was.
“No sun, no rain,” he would keep saying when he explained why portions of the vegetable dye paint had lasted longer than others in the 200 years since they had been painted.
All the rest of the buildings were black – they used to be painted, he said, but the sun, the rain…
Outside a haveli, two women asked to have their photo taken – then asked for 10 rupees each. I paid them, and the one stuck this bindi on my forehead.
There were many other things I found interesting to photograph on our walking tour…
In the morning, we went up to the restaurant for breakfast.
We had to wait on the narrow staircase for several other visitors to pass.
The breakfast was good. Boiled eggs, some kind of soft fluffy bread with layers of things inside, Indian porridge – which was sticky and sweet, but tasty – toast, chai, fresh juice, and oranges and bananas. It was tasty, and filling.
During breakfast, the power went out, but a rumbling soon began – the generator – and the lights went back on. We went back to the room to get ready for our Haveli tour with Shanka.
We then returned to the hotel Haveli and gathered our things. We left for Bikaner, out on the bumpy one lane we came in on – but soon came to the highway, which was a bit better. Still much agriculture in the area – wheat, and some huge aloe vera fields.
Shanka then took us to his friend’s textile shop. (This was not the shop, rather another one we passed while walking along on the road.) He offered us chai, or something to drink, but we refused. He then proceeded to lay out numerous blankets and things to look at. I bought two items – a camel stitched piece, and an elephant of the same. Very nice handiwork, and the prices were good.
The shopkeeper packaged them up in a cloth bag – he said there was too much plastic, and it was bad for the cows.
Then we walked to a shoe shop, where Mike bought some sandals. I refused to try on any shoes, even though the shopkeeper tried to offer me multiple pairs, of course.
We passed through smaller villages, and stopped to eat along the way. The men there were fascinated with Mike’s piercings and tattoos – they all wanted photos and took many with their cell phones and took turns posing with him, his shirt pulled up to reveal his tattoos. We bought a few small things from their gift shop. They instructed us to come back when we are married and have children.
On the way to Bikaner, I saw many cows, Mike taught me most of the Ashtanga chant, and we saw one overturned truck – all its goods spilled out on the side of the road. Hukam clicked his tongue and shook his head at it. I took many pictures out of the car window again. We stopped to photograph a roadside structure – a sort of man-made mountain with various God statues on it. As I crossed the road, I was accosted by several dusty, dirty beggar children, asking for rupees. A boy had a basket with a black rat snake in it. He lifted the lid and said, “Cobra, cobra!”, and the girls grabbed at my sleeves and breasts. I pulled my arms away, snapped one quick shot of the structure, and ran back across the road to the car. The kids followed, because a tour bus had parked behind us. The boy with the snake scared a few of the ladies getting off the bus. One of them screamed. I will need to be more strict next time with kids like that, but their presence clung to my sleeves, and one of the girls dusty face – the only clear part was where she had cried and washed away the dust – will stick with me.
We arrived in Bikaner and went to the hotel. We watched some TV – weird stuff, and used the internet – Free! There is a dancing show here in the evenings – since we are staying two nights we figured we would stay in tonight and see it tomorrow. We got beer and room service food, and I took a hot shower. Tomorrow off to the Mata Karni Devi Temple – the rat temple and other things.