India is very, very different from Germany. There are obvious differences such as clothing, architecture, it smells different and the noise is also different to ours. I find the details and communication fascinating. And the village visits in particular showed us a lot of that. At first glance, the villages in a region seem very similar, but if you go for a walk and communicate with the people there, you realise more about their uniqueness.
I don’t often travel organised, but in this case it was actually essential. Without a guide for translations and communication, you can also have experiences in villages, but usually not quite as much. He also has good contacts in some villages and so you get a very different welcome. There were only two of us, which made the whole thing very pleasant. But I’m sure that larger groups can also have a good, interesting time full of encounters.
In addition to these village stops, there were also encounters along the way, where we stopped and took a closer look around. For example, we stopped at a poppy field. Poppies are said to be grown legally and under controlled conditions for the pharmaceutical industry. But it is also said to be consumed traditionally – a remnant from times of war. And there are said to be some serious addicts. There are supposed to be – but I haven’t found out exactly. In any case, they were clearly visible from the road and the nice guard didn’t mind information and photos. As, after all, it was a field from and for the government.
In South Rajasthan, you often see field guards. They make sure that no animals come to nibble or trample on them. Especially overnight. Not only with poppies, but also with other crops.
Another stop was at a jaggery factory. I love jaggery! According to the internet: “Jaggery is a wholly unrefined natural sugar that is produced without use of chemicals and is nutritionally comparable with honey, with no chemical additives. Sugar cane is crushed to remove the juice. It is then heated to remove excess water and then allowed to cool and dry”. I haven’t found a German word for it. It’s sweet and tastes delicious, but the mixture is boiled for a long time while bubbling and then it hardens and can be sold. I found it fascinating with the huge bowl and how it was kept boiling from below with all these twigs. In recent years, jaggery in sugar form has also come onto our market and is called “whole cane sugar”. This also has the typical jaggery flavour.
The deep wells, typical of South Rajasthan, where water is drawn out mechanically and often with the help of animals, are also fascinating. A round wheel with a kind of small buckets is turned by animals walking in a circle. The water extracted in this way tends to be used for agriculture – individual households have smaller wells or water sources where the water is scooped directly into the container, which is then carried home.
School visits are always great – this time we had two. One has already been described in Somnath, the other took place in Godwad. The headmistress was remarkable – it’s not usual for a woman to be in charge of so many men. Everyone assured us that she was doing a great job and that they enjoyed working under and with her. The children may not have been visited so often and were jostling in front of the camera.
Then there were the little side encounters like this nice shopkeeper, from whom we wanted something with our mobile phones.
It is also very pleasant to be able to travel on foot in South Rajasthan. This allows you to experience the landscape in a completely different way and makes it easier to visualise everyday life here. The hills, slightly mountainous landscape and different flora make it very varied. The winter temperatures are very pleasant anyway.
South Rajasthan is less frequented due to the lack of desert and particularly magnificent palaces – and therefore all the more appealing, at least for me, to be travelling here. We have seen far fewer Western faces than in the central and northern parts of Rajasthan. The colleagues from the local agency have put together some really good activities here, so the trip is a good mix that I am happy to recommend. I really enjoyed it here.