Cheng Chin Yuen

Monday, May 08, 2006

Life Without The Laptop

Life without the expensive gadget is lazy but more relaxing. No more extended time at nights typing and cropping pictures. The scrapbook that I use now to record my experiences is not filling up as fast as it should be. There stories are all in point form or even word or doodle form, all waiting to be extended when I get home. That's more work when I get home...sounds like I'm still working.

We have decided to fly HOME on the 6th of June 2006! if we can get the tickets.

Here's a quick summary of what happened:

Karnimata is what makes the desert town of Bikaner famous. Thousands of resident mangy brown rats make Karnimata famous...well not famous enough in Singapore but the cheeky signboard outside suggests that it could be the '8th wonder of the world'! The rats or mice as the locals prefer to call them have enlarged testicles, perhaps a result of regular use. One lady told me that the amazing thing is that the mice population remains more or less the thousands!

These mice with mattered skin are fed with grain, milk and kachang which they greedily lap up from the rim of a large metal basin. They run freely around the temple. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that this place I am talking about is a Hindu temple! The rat is Ganesh's vehicle. Not exactly a BMW 740 but it performs more or less the same function. Fancy the elephant atop a rat zipping down the ECP in Graceland. The mice seem to know that they are worshipped and there will not be any cats around. Afterall, they share the altar space with the holy men and a couple of ladoos (orange very sweet Indian sweets) and receive a constant flood of packet snacks from the pilgrims.

One mouse decided to take a shortcut over my foot. I should be glad at the auspicious wandering but I was thinking more about where to wash my foot. Incidentally Karen was similarly blessed. There is no washing point in the templea and the nearest available was at the train station 1 hour away by bus.

Well, the experience was truely unique. You don't breathe too deeply. On the ground is a lovely unavoidable crunchy breakfast mix of mouse and pidgeon poo. This is the greatest test of faith I think. (The locals put their foreheads to the floor!) We did manage one round the dark passages that ran around the central chamber. When we emerged in the daylight, the foot gatherings weren't that bad. There is food strewn all over and the rats...or mice were overfed and lethargic.

On the bus back to Bikaner town, we met a man who worked in a bank. It takes him 3 hours to get to and from work daily and he is sweating in the heat. He also offers dinner at his place. We thank him but tell him we had a train to catch.

We didn't tell him that the train was arriving at 1.30 that night and it was a long wait (after a great shower) in the Ladies waiting room. The room soon drove us out onto the platforms where everybody else was. You sweat in your pants just sitting on the plastic chairs. On the platform, it was cooling and breezy. It was also another platform hotel for the poor and homeless.

A thin old man soon decided to set up camp 10 cm from my toes. Camp was a small bag pillow, a bed of two long rags, two plastic bottles, one walking stick and a couple of metal bowls. All these were laid out slowly and deliberately in front of our bench. Urine aroma theraphy was in the air again. It was about 11pm and he was getting ready for dinner, plucking out precious packets of rice and salt from his bag. As he turned and reached for the next dish, a dog sneaked up and made off with one packet, leaping onto the tracks as the man raised his stick. He looked at us and handsigned for some money. We refused and made off for another bench. India is tough on the soul.

At one end of the station, some men were getting the homeless sleeping on the ground to scram.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you are having a nice trip.

I was at the lAKE PALACE hotel and thought it was marvelous.

Did you get a chance to go to southern India? goa and Kerala?

Hope you are enjoying the food.


10:03 PM  
Anonymous donny said...

yo chin yuen,

we should catch up with you when you're home in june dude :)


9:37 AM  

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