Cows belong in fields
Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
152Trip End Dec 05, 2011
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Not only are cows considered holy in India, but their excrement is also highly sought after as a source of fuel: it is dried then burnt to provide fuel for cooking. It can be taken to extremes - at least in the eyes of us brits. We saw one woman wandering home from town with a rather large, fresh, cow turd balanced on the palm of her hand. I would have taken a picture had I not got the massive giggles, toilet humour being something that features rather highly in my family.
We stayed in the home of the local ruling family in Shahpura, where the family still reside. It provided the children with a great insight into how the Indian Raj lived and how prominent hunting was. The lounge had half a stuffed tiger mounted on the wall, as well as a leopard, and countless photographs of the family on hunting parties. The house was very much a relic of a by-gone era.
The older generation of women still live in the house and were very keen to meet the children at meal times and make sure they were eating well. This was rather challenging for them: the first night they were served with fluorescent green pasta which anyone would have struggled with, and basically resorted to a plate of chips and rice. Benjamin took it for the team, demolishing everything that was put in front of him, including the dodgy rice pudding and milk straight from the cow. Jamie and Zach grimaced their way through dinner and went to bed hungry.
Next day everyone was ecstatic to see Marmite on the breakfast table, and, playing it safe, I ordered cheese sandwiches and marmite sandwiches for lunch. These were sprinkled with Indian spice which rendered them inedible again. Poor kids. - 24 hours of near-starvation.
The staff at Shapura bagh were similarly amusing. The house is full of people, and obviously the staff have been with the family for a very long time. But the constant long faces and total lack of charm left us feeling that they rather begrudged the end of the bygone era and were less than amused at having to serve Western tourists. All very entertaining.
Brad and I visited a local state run school with Jamie. Zach had really had enough of village and school visits, so Jamie was cajoled into leaving his playmate behind and having a rare trip with Mummy and Daddy on his own. The school lacked the infrastructure that we are used to (although it did have a computer room with 1 computer per 5 kids), with more than 700 children taught by just 12 teachers, but more than made up for it with unbelievable discipline and a tangible willingness to learn which puts every state school in Britain to shame. Many of the girls were from poor or very simple backgrounds, yet it was obvious that every pupil valued highly the education they were getting, backed by parents who consider education a necessity and privelege.
After lunch we popped into town with Babu to see the markets and buy some sweets and twine so Brad could finish the camp he and the kids were building from the bamboo that we had bought in Jodphur. The kids ended up enjoying the camp so much that they insisted we take it apart and carry it t o the next destination: the tiger camp at Ranthambore.