Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 8--Khajuraho

We left around 7:30 this morning for Khajuraho. It was about a 3.5 hour drive northeast of Damoh. It is an absolute must site to see. Mark Twain’s quote is running through my head: “India is the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” Khajuraho helps make that quote oh so true. The temple compound is a UNESCO/World Heritage site because of its artistically sculptured temples. The temples were built around 900-1200 a.d. The remaining 25 of the original 85 temples are a true work of art. Today we got to enjoy the outcome of dedication, courage, and patience with a hammer and chisel. Who would of thought with such primitive tools they could produce such magnificent sculptures. Yes, they are also known as the "erotic" or "Kama sutra (technique of love)" temples. Of course, the small percentage of the more erotic sculptures garner the most attention and photographs. But as our guide reminded us, it is pure art. The guide said that the temples stood beneath the jungle growth until 1925 when they were "rediscovered" for all the world to see. Today Khajuraho hosts a plethora of 5 star resorts, and is one of the three stops on the golden triangle along with New Delhi and Jaipur. It was well worth the drive to see.

On our way home one of the cars had a flat tire. While we waited on the street side, we became quite the spectacle. People began to gather to look at the lighter skinned folk. And I was once again reminded that we don't blend in; we are the "circus at the circus." That saying came from last year's trip when we visited a traveling circus here in Damoh and the locals were watching us "the circus" at the circus. It is really fun to watch the locals watching you. And we just know they are laughing at these crazy white people taking pictures of the strangest things to us but the most everyday things to them. I mean, how often do you get to see a water buffalo galloping down the street after her baby, who is being held by a man on the back of a motorcycle. Or a goat with a knit scarf being lead into a restaurant. Guess who's coming to be dinner? Dogs and birds picking off the last pieces of several cow and buffalo carcasses. A black faced monkey sitting on the stone bridge abutment. A panther darting across the road. Boys on bicycles strutting for pictures. A cock fight in between two vividly painted TaTa buses. A gorgeous pinkish hued sunset behind a jutting jungle mountain. The list of today's possible photo ops is endless...but 'tis everyday life in India.

We've been discussing this trip how India seems quite the land of contradictions...erotically sculptured temples, but no public displays of affection allowed on the streets. Fat goats in sweaters walking beside naked hungry children. Digging hand dug trenches to lay fiber optic cables. The worship of cows because they give you food and clothing amongst other things; but you don't kill them because they are holy! India is the world's largest free democratic secular society that is in essence run by the Hindu religious elite (which is a small percentage of the population). Billboards of "life-giving water" next to the world's dirtiest (so dirty nothing lives in it) river. And I could go on and on about the apparent contradictions; but I pause and wonder what is said of us and our "normal" way of everyday life?

Tomorrow starts the women's conference. Judy, Tricia and Connie will all be speaking on Day 1. Ashley, Lezlie, Lisa & Suzette will all be speaking on Days 2&3. The men folk will be cooking chicken fajitas, beans, Spanish rice, tortillas and salsa for about 300 tomorrow. I hear that most of the chickens are already "dressed." Shouldn't that be "undressed" if they are without feathers at that point? But the remaining few will be "prepared" by us...can't say I've ever killed my food. A city boy I am! This should be fun and we'll take lots of pictures and report our successes or failures tomorrow! A wonderful goodnight to my family and friends! --Mark

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