Where is Matteo Tricarico?? Finally out of India, the intrepid Italian push bike rider sent me some more updates, which I turn upon you… may they inspire many adventures, and help Matteo bringing forward his message of peace and solidarity… Monkey approved!
Day 495, chronicle 081, Udaipur (N24°34.331′ E073°42.128′) India, 16 February 2011 11:45 pm -
On the morning of February 7th, I visited the Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust in Delhi, a school for children from disadvantaged families, psychomotor rehabilitation centre and hospital specialized for handicapped patients. There I was followed by Sunny Kaul, a young reporter sent by the Printing Press Trust India, who is moving his first steps in this profession and who wrote a nice article full of youthful passion, wonder and a bit ‘of naivety, published by several other Indian newspapers. I spent two interesting hours in the auditorium of the school talking with teenage students in their seniour years to whom I showed some videos of the trip and then they asked me various questions, and we ended the meeting with a small debate on the benefits of cycling as a means of urban transport. At three o’clock the same day, I entered the sprawling traffic of Delhi with the intention to head south towards Agra, but in the following four hours I could not cover more than twenty miles meandering between traffic-jams and breaking a few road rules such as passing with red light and cycling wrong way on oneway streets. However, nothing compared to what I’ve seen done by all possible and imaginable means of transport including: white horses harnessed ready to bring a bride to her wedding ceremony, buffaloes slowly pulling carts loaded with vegetables and elephants with the plant feet covered with shoes made of tires of cars. In Faridabad, a suburb of Delhi, I crossed the threshold of a small hotel just a few seconds before a torrential rain.
After reaching Agra the next day, I spent almost the entire day visiting the magnificent Taj Mahal, a mausoleum and monumental symbol of Islam in the homeland of Hinduism, another of the many contrasts of this amazing nation. The Taj exceeds the expectations of everyone who visits it, both from a distance where one can see the balance and proportion between the different elements of the building, and close-by for its gigantic size. The observation of the walls at short distance shows a manic precision of the details of the decorations on the walls of white marble inlaid with polychrome marble to create beautiful floral designs.
Leaving Agra, I started a race against time, lasted for four days, to reach the town of Chittaurgrah, 600 kilometres far away, to be reunited with my friend Giacomo. Rajhastan is the most visited state in India and it deserves its reputation. It is admirable for its majestic architectural beauty visible in the powerful military fortifications and in fine residential houses. Men wear voluminous turbans of bright colours, in stark contrast with the rest of the clothing rigorously white – or various shades of grey due to the use and lack of cleaning! – composed of the dhoti, the pants made passing between the legs the front flap of the skirt tied behind the back, and the kurta, shirt with slits on the sides that can be slipped-on like a pullover. I am crossing the border between two geographical areas: the tropics, that I’m leaving behind, and the deserts south of the Northern Hemisphere continental climate zones. The land becomes more arid and other signs of change are the fields that from brilliant green rice paddies turn to yellowish wheat fields, the pious and gentle ox is replaced by the sluggish but much more impressive camel. Palm trees and tall grasses, which require lots of water, are substituted by cacti and brambles with thorns long as one’s little finger. Humidity is a memory of the past and the temperatures are hot during the day and cold at night.
Giacomo and I visited Chittaurgrah, the largest fort in India that from the hill overlooks the entire region. This is the foothill of the Aravalli chain, a low mountains range that extends up to Pakistan. Yesterday, we moved by bus to the seductive Udaipur which lies along the banks of the artificial lake Pichola and we wandered the narrow alleys of the old town admiring the architecture of the buildings marked by Persian influences. Today, we spent a resting day at the hotel and we did some computer work. Until next time.
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