Wednesday, July 29, 2009

India - January 1, 2009 - Khajuraho

Happy New Year!

Today I had to be up at 5:00am again, to leave at 6:00 for Khajuraho to see the famous Kamasutra temples. Kyle stayed out till last night's party ended, but she chose cooking school and henna, so she could sleep in.

We drove through fog out into the countryside--a four-hour drive over terrible roads with crazy drivers, motorcycles, bicycles, oxcarts, cattle, goats, dogs, pigs, and children all trying their best to cause an accident. We actually saw two head-on collisions (just the results), one going each direction.

Khajuraho has a number of beautifully preserved Hindu temples from the 9th to 12th centuries, which depict not only aspects of Shiva, but various beasts and other beings, as well as numerous happy married couples. By far the majority of the couples cuddle, kiss, or gaze into one another's eyes, but here and there are the ones this monument is famous for: graphic depictions of sex acts, some common, some athletic, and some downright impossible.

Khajuraho was by far the cleanest outdoor place we have been--Disney quality inside the fence. I didn't see any groundskeepers at work, but considering the apparent Indian attitude toward litter (drop it with the rest of the trash in the streets), there had to be some working constantly.

We enjoyed touring the monuments and seeing the many Indian families there on a New Year's outing, but were dismayed to have well-dressed middle-class children come up to us and beg! I have no idea if their families knew what they were up to, for it was clear that parents thought this a safe place to let their children run as they pleased. Kids dressed up for a day out ran and played in the puddles made by the grass sprinklers.

These children's begging took the form of demanding, "Pencil! Pencil!" I guess they were trying to give the impression they would spend money for school supplies, but when Eric actually gave one of them a pencil, he seemed completely puzzled. At least it stopped that one child from following us around.

Before we left Khajuraho we had another great Indian meal, though the service was terrible. The only place we have been served mediocre food was the hotel in Orccha--otherwise everything has been delicious.

Tonight we're off on the sleeper train to Veranasi.

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