Butterflies have fascinated me for many years. I also think of them as an emerging spirit. Seeing the enormous quantity of butterflies near Iguassu Falls had me create several different takes on on the butterflies around Iguassu Falls. Above is piece 38 of 50 pieces that I made so each one stood on its own but viewed together it was one large image. Below are 25, 42 and 30. As an after thought, I have been to Iguassu Falls a number of times but each time I love it more.
I love creating funny birds as above and strange birds like Sumi Bird below. To make Sumi Bird I used the suminagashi process of floating ink on water and then dipping the paper or fabric into the water to create a print.
Here are my icy birds also known as penguins. I did see them in the wild in 2005 when I traveled to South America to avoid the cold, pipe freezing winter in Colorado. I saw them waddling there way around the Patagonia hillside.
As with much of what I post all of these works are in either private or corporate collections.
Animals are such an interesting subjects with their shapes, forms, ways they move. Horses are such a show of power. In Dark horse above when I would see horses at night just galloping the night away, I felt a great envy. But then I was never inside the mind of a horse. I saw many horses over the years that I visited and then lived in Colorado.
Crowned Cranes are so majestic. I first saw them in the wild while on a 10 week tented safari in Africa with my friend Julia from France. We were in a small group of about 9 people plus the driver and guide. It was no luxury safari, we put up our own tents at night and prepared our own food. Our chores were done on a rotating basis. We did not ride in a bus, it was a converted truck which was open the air most of the time. It had adequate compartments for all our gear. In case of rain or excessive wild, we could put a canvas cover over the top. We spent many hours traveling in that vehicle from Nairobi, Kenya thru to Zimbabwe. Everyday was a brought new dimensions to our happiness in being there. It was so exciting to spot those magnificent crowned cranes in the country side roaming free.
We also saw giraffes gliding across the grass lands. It was so amazing their long strides.
Storm Horses was based on an actual happening. I was driving back to my home in Beulah, Colorado in the evening. Darkness was spreading across the landscape. Then I spotted a group of galloping horses with their manes flying in the wind with the mountains in the background. It made an indelible impression on me.
In one of the many lakes we experienced, seeing the cape buffalo was captivating. I noticed they each had their own face, expression and look. They are individuals, too.
Three Cape Buffalo is available. Text me for details.
I have had many adventures in Moscow. I traveled there first during the cold war. On that first trip, I was explaining to a friend what my aunt had told me about Communism, it was “From each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” The tour guide turned around and told me, “We haven’t gotten there yet.” The last time I traveled to Moscow was with a Colorado friend in 2003 or 2004. We stayed with a woman we had met on an earlier trip in Budapest the year before. She had said to us, “You two seem like fun, if you come to Moscow, you can stay with me.” We told her, “You have to mean it if you say that to us as we would be happy to take you up on that offer.” So we did. I always love going to Red Square and seeing St. Basil’s Cathedral. Moscow boasts the most amazing flea market in the world. It is absolutely huge. You can find whatever interests you. I enjoyed looking at Turkish rugs displayed along an outdoor stairway. There was also lots of fabric and texture available. I love texture, just in case you did not know.
I have made several trips to Australia. I was so fascinated with Sydney Harbor with its glorious Opera House and wonderful bridge. The story of the native people of Australia is so sad but it has improved but still has a very long way to go as we have with our injustices in the US. I love the Aboriginal art so primitive yet so innovative.
I also lived in Manitou Springs, Colorado for a while. It was such a great place with the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy. Beauty was everywhere you looked. I placed these two art pieces together as I found for me the Opera House in Sydney and the Air Force Academy had great similarity.
A different continent, the country of Italy with all its many glories. Art abounds everywhere. Who could not fall in love with Venice with its many canals and gondolas. Music is in the air and pasta on the palate.
Another one of my very favorite cities, Rio de Janeiro is one of the must thrilling and stunning cities of the world. Sugar Loaf Mountain, the bay, the beach and the wonderful tiled sidewalk that runs along the beach. The last time was in 2005 when I traveled to South America to avoid a cold Colorado winter. Often the pipes in the house would freeze. It was more economical for me to spend the time traveling and way more exhilarating and fun.
Jaipur was the first city in India where I arrived on my own. I had opted out of an overnight train from Varanasi to Delhi with a connection to another train to Jaipur. I was concerned about what would happen if the train were late which is so often the case.
From Varanasi to Delhi I went by plane, a fantastic experience which I will relate later. On from Delhi to Jaipur by car was a visually stimulating experience but more on that another time.
One of my joys in Jaipur was just riding in the Auto Rickshaw and seeing the sights of people on motorcycles, people doing ordinary things but wearing inspiring clothing and doing double takes as I saw camels pulling carts and rickshaws. I even saw an elephant as the Auto Rickshaw driver maneuvered his way around the large pachyderm which was heavily made up with an image of a lotus flower on her face. My camera was too slow to catch that but I did get one of the rear and tail of the elephant but I will spare you that. On my way to the Anokhi Museum, I passed a group of school girls dressed in their blue and white uniforms. They seemed amused to see me in the auto rickshaw and turned to smile and wave. I found that quite enchanting. I was being welcomed to this city by everyone.
Auto Rickshaws are the main way of transportation, there are also shared rickshaws with very low prices and many, many motorcycles. I cringed many times seeing a family or four on a motorcycle with none wearing helmets. On the plus side I did not see one auto , motorcycle or auto rickshaw accident the entire time I was in India. Drivers are incredibly focused and drive much closer to another vehicle than I am used to. Auto Rickshaws are basically a three wheel vehicle like a golf cart with a tent like top, no windows. In the front is the driver’s seat in the middle but often has a friend or other passenger on either side. Then the back seat is a bench seat which is adequate for two adults or two adults and one child. It often holds as many as six people in the back section. Behind the seat is a place for luggage or groceries if needed.
My reaction to riding in them started with me holding on to a bar that separates the front and the back seats with my knuckles being completely white from clenching so hard. But here in Jaipur, I did not even hold on. I let my body relax and just moved with the many swerves to avoid cows, motorcycles and pedestrians. Once I even found that I had fallen asleep briefly. What a long way I had come. I still did not like the dust, auto fumes that continually swirled around. I found myself wearing my sunglasses most of the time to protect my eyes. I used a scarf over my face as did many other passengers. I did see others (natives) who wore surgical masks but not many.
Talking with Auto Rickshaw drivers was another education. Those whose English is good, can command higher prices. In India, driving an auto rickshaw is a good job. The drivers I spoke with talked of their family and their homes. Some told me things about their religious holidays and told me that India was very open to all religions. Another driver seemed to have a strong prejudice against a particular group saying they had far too many holidays. Was that a real prejudice or was it just because the many parades on religious holidays make it difficult to drive?
Time seemed to pass quickly even as I saw Biral Mandir Temple, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and the Water Palace on my first day.
The second day was another treat seeing Anokhi Hand Printing Museum in a lovely renovated building with many of the original stairways and great examples of hand printing.
I stopped in at Village Textiles to see a demonstration of Block Printing, a large array of fabrics, rugs, all types of table coverings and cushion covers. I ended up buying a few small items. It was somewhat overwhelming but I was able to have a cup of chai and resist most that was offered. I had the feeling that the prices asked depended upon who was buying. I loved the experience.
The final stop of the day was to the Paper Factory which was a real highlight of both the day and the trip. A representative of the company gave me a grand tour beginning with making the pulp and all the steps to come up with the finished product either art paper, gift wrap, lamp shades, boxes and stationery. I was quite amused as it seemed like a place from a few centuries ago until I spotted one of the workers on a cell phone.
My friends in Udaipur took me on a night excursion around the lake where I found wonderful reflections and contrasts. I was not able to get my camera to focus correctly but then I loved it. I continued finding swirls, squiggles and light puffs and some with reflections. It was definitely a case of what you see is NOT what you get but ever so much fun.
Servas is an organization whose main purpose to promote peace in the world. Servas facilitates the meeting of individuals from different cultures by having a host and guest component. The organization checks into each new member applying to see if he/she would be up to the task of hosting such international guests or or to stay in the homes of others. You can apply to be a host or to be a traveler. Here is a way to not only meet but get to know someone from another culture. My feeling in travel is that I learn as much about the country from those who live there as I do from seeing the physical sites. As a guest you are not to expect your host to pay for personal items or to buy tickets for you. As a guest you are not to pay for your stay but certainly to reimburse your host for items purchased on your behalf. With Servas you are expected as a host to show your guest the area or how they can do it on their own. As a guest you are expected to have conversations with your host.
When I was active in the Esperanto (International Language) movement, there was Passport Servo which had allowed members to request to stay with other members or to host other members. I hosted many from a variety of countries. I also stayed with other Esperantists in Austria, Australia Brazil, France, Peru and the UK.
When I had the opportunity to travel to India, the thought came ringing back to me. I want to meet the people who live there, not just taxi drivers or merchants in a store.
In Sarnath, not far from Varanasi, I met Dr Jain who runs a small guesthouse. Saroj, Dr Jain’s wife made wonderfully delicious vegetarian meals. Both made me feel so welcome and comfortable. Dr Jain and Saroj are so very kind to everyone they meet. It is something that you sense immediately. I only spent one overnight there but I still feel the effects of the caring people I met and talked there. Dr. Jain seems to be catalyst for bringing about necessary action that will help others. Specifically to enable both girls and boys to have an education. Many families can not afford to send their children to school. Also to set medical clinics to provide for those children’s health needs. These are outlined in detail in the link below.
Others, I also met in that one brief afternoon at Dr. Jain’s guest house were a woman concerned with care of the cows. It appears that though the sacred cows can wander where they will, there is no one who supervises their care. It is in fact quite frightening to see cows wandering the streets and even on the highways. I met another person who was interested in seeing if some of the many stray dogs all over India could be adopted by families. I may not have mentioned this but in every city I visited, I was surprised by the number of stray dogs in the streets. They were often lying on the pavement. I was not sure if they were asleep temporarily or permanently.
In Udaipur, I stayed with a lovely Servas family. The wife of the couple was also an artist but additionally had taken on several projects of her own. She told me that in India, private schools were now obliged to offer 20 percent of their enrollment to underprivileged students. She told me that these children spoke only Hindi at home while all their school classes were in English. So, of course, it was most difficult for them. Renu is teaching them English and getting reports back of how well the students are doing. The children she is tutoring seem to adore her and realize what she is doing for them. Renu is also active in getting a garbage collection service organized in her area. I was quite appalled that all over India there are patches of ground that are covered in paper trash and waste.
Note: I will be writing more of my experiences with my Servas host the family in Udaipur in the near future.
In Noida, not far from Delhi, I stayed with another Servas couple. Ravindra is an artist and sculptor so of course, we had much to discuss.
But his caring came to the surface, when he told me that he was tutoring a fifteen year old student who had mental challenges. Ravindra was teaching the boy how to make clay models and showed me some of the boys’ s work. How wonderful for the boy to see something positive he had made. Ravindra’s wife, Shyamali acts as a full time caregiver to her elderly mother who lives with them. Shyamali told me that her mother had a breakdown after the death of her husband. In India it is quite hard for widows but I think things are much better now than in the past.
More about these wonderful Servas hosts when I write about Noida in the near future.
I still marvel at the extraordinary kindness of the people I met in India.
Overcome all obstacles to get to the Lotus Temple in Delhi at metro stop Kalkaji Mandir. The day that Lenore and I went throngs of people were present. They were wearing beautiful clothes of a variety of colors.
You can see the temple from a great distance–it is like gaining focus as you get closer to it.
The Lotus Temple is of the Bah’ai faith which also honors all religions. You are requested to deposit your shoes before climbing the stairs to the temple.
Even though some may interpret what I will recount as negative, it is not intended that way. I believe that to understand India, you need to travel by train at least three times with at last one overnight train. It really teaches you humility, patience and gives you a greater insight into Indian life.
With my niece, Lenore, we traveled a day train from Delhi to Agra. In India you cannot enter where the train platforms are without showing your ticket and putting all baggage through a security check. One line for men to be scanned and a special line for women who are scanned in a small curtained booth by a woman.
We got our introduction to how to get to our platform. From large cities like Delhi you have to flex your stair stepping muscles. That is walk up the equivalent of three flights of stairs, then walk along a Bridge until you find the correct platform and proceed down the three flights–all this while dodging people stopped and being bopped by others’ bags and backpacks. Sometimes these stairs are replaced by an extra steep ramp. In the end, I preferred the stairs.
For our Agra to Varanasi night train, Lenore and I got to the Agra station at 10pm for a departure scheduled at 10:40pm. We were fortunate to find a place to sit as we waited until the train left at about 3:50am. It was as if we were in an accepting zombie state. The train lost more time after its departure. We ended up being over seven hours late. Whereas we were to have had a day time arrival, we got to our hotel about 7pm after dark. It was somewhat unsettling. Varanasi proofed to be such a beautiful and fascinating city that all was worth it.
The thought of taking a night train from Varanasi to Delhi and making a connection to Jaipur seemed unwise for me what with so many trains being late. So I found an easier way. I took a flight from Varanasi to Delhi and made connections on to Jaipur. The flight was most impressive as was the on time departure and arrival. More on that later.
After enjoying beautiful Jaipur, I got my train stamina back and booked a 6:40am train from Jaipur to Udaipur.
I arrived at Jaipur station with plenty of time to spare. However, I nearly missed the train as platform 2A was not in sight when I came down the steps to the platform. It was literally about 3 blocks off in the distance. I was in the chair car. Posted outside all train cars are the names of those reserved and their seat assignments. Fortunately mine was listed as Janet T in seat 60W. Two minutes after I boarded the train, it departed.
There were many of us who nearly missed that train but those in the know had taken all the shelf space for baggage. I was able to squeeze my rolling backpack between my legs and the seat in front of me and held my day pack on my lap. It was fine. The legroom between each row of seats was quite adequate. I was even able to get out of my window seat without the man sitting in the aisle seat moving. You can’t say that for most airline seats.
Fortunately one thing you can always count on is the offering of chai on the trains. A vendor comes thru with a large thermos container and small paper cups. It is sold for 10 rupees so I was able to have a cup of chai soon after the train departed Jaipur.
I was quite hungry so at 11am when a food vendor came through I ordered the vegetable cutlet. I ate one of the two but decided against the packaged sauce and the two slices of bread. I was delighted to have the chai after the meal as well.
I have yet to see a clean train car. All double glazed windows are hazed up. They appear to be made of plexiglass which scratches easily and if the wrong cleaning solution is used, it can cause
I was somewhat apprehensive about taking a night train from Udaipur back to Delhi as I was reserved the middle of a three berth tier.
The three berth tier does not allow for those on the bottom or middle berth to sit up. I was fortunate that when a couple boarded and stated they had the two bottom berths and would gladly change with me so I could have a bottom berth. I did not ask but was greatly relieved.
Here is what the aisle looks like at night. So climbing down the ladder from the middle or second or upper berth into the aisle could be challenging.
I met and spoke with two young women from China who had the upper berths across the aisle from me.
One thing I love about the trains is just when you want to have a better taste in your mouth, you hear, “Chai, Chai.” I have had multiple small cups of chai on trains. On the train from Udaipur to Delhi, I have had only one and that was at 6 am. It is reassuring to know there will be more calls if I am so inclined.
Here are some notes for train travel:
Be prepared with lots of 10 rupee notes.
Always take double the water and food with you.
Eastern and western Style toilets at the end of each car. Trash bin outside the stall.
When I arrived back in Delhi on March 1 on the overnight train from Udaipur, it was pouring rain. Just before panic set in as to how I was going to navigate getting off the train with my now two heavier bags plus my day pack, a man with a red turban and beard appeared wearing a bright blue shirt and green pants and offered to be my porter. He carried my rolling backpack on his head and bright blue bag of new treasures over his arm. He led me up the three flights of stairs to a bridge over all the train lines and then down the three flights to exit the station. It was raining very hard and the street seemed like a river of water. Then into a cab to head for Balaji hotel. I thanked my red turbaned genie for his appearance and assistance . All in all the train ride had been great. Of course I had my morning cup of chai before dawn. Did I mention that I am having the time of my life?
Just in case you had not noticed, I totally love India. It has met and exceeded all expectations. Things are very different in India but with after a while I get with the system. Three weeks is not long enough. Problem solved— I will return.
Thanks to my niece for providing additional photos to complete the train picture.
So much assaults the senses on landing in a city teeming with people, auto rickshaws, lying dogs and great contrasts. To say that beauty is everywhere doesn’t do the city or its great mass of humanity justice.
Our on time arrival at 9 pm at the Indira Gandhi International Airport was great. Smooth flight, excellent Indian food on board.
When in the past I thought of India it was always color and super design .
Now after three days in India, I think of it as a special cosmos with beautiful people, exquisite fashion and surprises as with each turn of the kaleidoscope. We mastered the art of arrival with limited difficulty. We mastered how to buy a railroad ticket and how to get a ticket on a train that is fully booked the day before.
Today we mastered the art of buying a metro ticket and riding the metro.
That was some experience. First as we neared the railway station, we were beckoned this way and that way. Please lady, I don’t want to sell you something, just look. Hello. Hello. Come here I make you happy price. Somehow we became the targets or opportunities as we entered the New Delhi Railway Station.
We found we could get to the metro at New Delhi Railway station by going up the escalator, then crossing over the bridge over the rail tracks. Once down into the metro station we encountered a huge crush of people. It was like my former days in France when there were frequent railroad strikes. People squeezed together all over the station. It was hard to make our way thru to get to the machines where you could purchase tickets. Once there it was only to buy a higher value card or add to an existing card. So we found out where to purchase individual tokens for a specific destination based on the distance.
As we were headed to the Lotus Temple, we got a ticket to Kalkaji Mandir. We were to change from one line to another. The trip took us about 30 minutes once we were on the train. The system to pay to enter the platforms is similar to BART’s clipper card. You scan the token as you enter and to exit you drop it in a slot. How you select the correct line and direction is just like the French Metro system. That is you find your direction by finding the last station in the desired direction. You can also check the color. We started out on the yellow line and transferred to the violet line. As a double-check before you go up or down to your platform verify the list of stations to make sure you are correct.
A wonderful thing about the Delhi metro is that each train has a car specifically for women ( called “Ladies” in India). There are special pink markers on the platforms where the “ladies car” stop. All the other cars have some seats designated for Senior Citizens (60+), some for physically challenged and some for
“Ladies”. Most of the train cars are full with about one-third of the people standing. This is pretty much the case round the clock. On occasion, I have been offered a seat. On other occasions, my companion has requested that someone stand to offer me a seat. With the exception of the women’s cars, almost all other riders are men who stare continually at me. I was often the only person of non Indian descent. I took to wearing sunglasses at all times to avoid prying eyes.
Walking in Delhi can be a health hazard as there almost no usable sidewalks. You walk in the streets which have cars, trucks, auto rickshaws, bicycle rickshaws and wandering sacred cows. The streets are full of potholes and it seems more often than not you need to step over piles of something.
Another Phenomenom is where traffic lights exist, stopping for a red light seems more of a suggestion than the law.
Just to let you know, all these possible obstacles, are well worth overcoming to see the sights and people of this incredible nation.
The Lotus Temple is just one example. www.bahaihouseofworship.in
I highly recommend experiencing the Lotus Temple. See following post called “Lotus Temple Delhi”