A Travellerspoint blog


Readers' Haikus

Bombay 18th January 2011

sunny 34 °C

Congratulations to the winners of the Washday Haikus competition. We judged all the entries to be winners. So, Dori, Gabriole, Harvey and Roy, pack up your smalls and send them to us, Poste Restante, at Varanasi Post Office. We bet you can't wait to see what they'll look like once they've been washed in the Ganges!

Beside the water
winter sun bleaches hard work.
Colours lay tranquil

prostrating over
lithe, green riverbank grasses
laundry prays to sun.

a brown river flows
laundry kisses green shrubs
covering steep slopes

Long lines of laundry
Watching shadows they whisper
Where are you going?

strung out on fenceline
clean bright colours of laundry
salute passersby.

a scatter of clothes
saris and kurtas salwars
colour the back yard

Mountain wind wonders
So much fabric to capture
gravel is waiting


Red and white and pink.
Fern adorned with women’s work.
Beauty, not grime, relief.

green leaves embracing
Patchworked in bits of linen
The wind is silent

hankies and dainties
airing on the side of caution
a laundry bouquet.

Posted by Hawkson 06:00 Archived in India Comments (3)

Your Camel Awaits, Sir...

sunny 32 °C

After four days sightseeing amongst the hippies in historical Hampi, we’ve returned to Goa for a final dip in the Arabian Sea before zipping off to Mumbai, (Bombay). However, before we take you on a tour of one of the world’s most populated and poverty ridden cities, we thought we’d give you a peek at our unusual Hampi home...
Here’s the pool…
This is the Vijayshree Resort - a 17 acre Rajasthani theme park on the fertile Deccan Plateau near Hampi. However, Hampi is one of the greatest cultural treasures of this country, (despite the shocking neglect and abuse of its numerous historical monuments), so the idea of creating a piece of Rajasthani desert here, complete with forty-five traditionally styled luxury cottages, appears somewhat bizarre. What is even more bizarre are the two giant front-end loaders parked outside the reception lobby…
But the peculiarities of this 5 star resort don’t end at the reception desk. Whoever heard of a vegetarian, non-smoking, alcohol-free holiday resort? Welcome to India – where religion, caste and ethnicity dominate all aspects of life. This resort is owned by a Rajasthani industrialist who believes that everyone should be Hindu just like him, (and every visitor should buy one of his enormous earthmovers), so we had to conform. (although we didn’t buy an earthmover). But we were we well looked after - this guy would run out with a parasol whenever he saw us walking by…
And when a small light bulb blew in our cottage seven men arrived to fix it. One took out the broken bulb, inspected it and, after several minutes huddling with his "team", removed the entire light fixture and replaced it with a brand new one – now that’s what we call service?
But what about this for showbiz? Whenever we needed transport to and from the dining room all we had to do was call reception and within minutes a camel cart would be waiting at our front door…

Posted by Hawkson 20:36 Archived in India Comments (3)

Dispatch from Hampi

Mysore, India. January 16th Anno Domini 1800

sunny 33 °C

Hampi, the capital of ancient Vijayanagara in the 14th century, (and the capital of Hippy India since the 1960s), is a place of legends. According to the Ramayana it is the mythical birthplace of Shree Hanuman, the Monkey god, while, according to many flower children, it is the best place for a toke in the entire sub-continent. However, as we walked by the side of the Tungabadra river we found ourselves in the footsteps of Colonel Colin Mackenzie, Surveyor General of India, who stumbled across this ruined city in 1800, and we mused over the kind of dispatch he may have written to his paymasters in London.

My Dear Sirs;
It gives me much pleasure to report the discovery of an ancient, though sadly ruined, great city which, it seems, was once the capital of the region known as Vijayanagara. Firstly I must tell you of the wondrous scene that greeted us when we arrived with our camel train…
At first sight it seemed as if the Lord God himself had taken umbrage with the landscape; in every direction lay strewn such a great jumble of rocks and boulders that initially it appeared we might not find a passage…
Then, to our intense surprise, nay – delight, we noted that many of the monolithic formations had structure to them…
Imagine our glee when we discovered that a great city had once stood here on the Deccan Plateau just a few hundred years past, and that ruins of great temples lay off in every direction for many leagues…
Though none of the artifacts demonstrate the sophistication of European ecclesiastical works of the same, or even earlier, centuries, the ruins represent the very heights of the sub-continent’s architecture. It would seem that Budhists, Muslims and Hindus all built temples here between the 14th and 16th centuries. However, many of the extant structures are related to 16th century royalty. There are great elephant stables where the ruler’s beasts were stalled…

There is a delightful little Palace within a walled garden where, I am led to believe, the King kept his harem. And the concubines had their own bathhouse…

However, these once magnificent structures are in a sorry state today, with many of the great temples being utilised as squalid habitation for peasants and their animals…
Whilst others are considered so worthless that visiting pilgrims use them as staging posts to cross the river…

I will report further upon my findings, but I fear that unless immediate steps are undertaken to preserve these artifacts from further desecration they will be lost to future generations.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant:
Col. C. Mackenzie. British East Indies Co.

Posted by Hawkson 00:56 Archived in India Comments (1)

Go Goa

sunny 31 °C

As we pause for a few days rest in the seaside resort of Betalbatim, we’ve joined a rat-race of northerners who’ve jumped their ice-bound ships to bask under the Goan sun – and who can blame them? At home it may be damp, chilly and grey, while here the world sparkles. The golden beaches, fringed with coconut palms, slope gently into a warm aquamarine ocean…
Traditional fishermen in ancient proas chase shadowy shoals across a landscape of shimmering emerald...
And the glittering sun shines from breakfast to tea until it eventually tires and turns vermillion as it sinks into the Arabian Sea…
It is easy to see why Goa is one of the most popular holiday spots in the world, but on reading the travel guides we had visions of a non-stop party hotspot – an Indian Ibiza or Cabo San Lucas with oodles of booze and pot. But that’s not here in Betalbatim. This part of southern Goa is more like Worthing – most of the holidaymakers are lumpy white wrinklies who gave up hard partying years ago and are now happy with a stroll along the beach at sunset before going to the restaurant to karaoke along with Cliff Richard’s Summer Holiday and a medley of the latest hits from Peter, Paul and Mary.
Here’s some typical Brits at the beach – complete with plastic flyswatters brought all the way from Blighty...
Foreign tourists have been bringing suitcases of cash here for decades but it’s difficult to see where it’s all gone. For instance, in the late 90s an elevated skytrain system was built in the city of Madgaon to whisk passengers across the top of this congested city; the central tourist hub for the region. The tracks and stations are there – abandoned and crumbling since 2003. Like so many other grandiose projects in India, the skytrain never got off the ground. It’s no wonder that two Indian space rockets exploded on take-off… the wonder is that they ever took off in the first place.
However, we’ve found a nice hotel, a great restaurant and a lovely beach and are quite happy to reiterate the State’s marketing slogan of “Go Goa.”

Posted by Hawkson 03:45 Archived in India Comments (3)

Washday Haikus

sunny 32 °C

Despite all the garbage and grime, most Indians always manage to appear in crisply ironed clean clothes. Commercial laundries are big business here and for just a few cents our clothes are whisked away and returned a few hours later in pristine condition. But for most Indian housewives, or their maids, the laundry, (dhobi as it is called here), is a major daily undertaking. Washing machines are readily available, but, in a country where hundreds of millions have neither electricity nor piped water, the nearest river provides the only option to many. However, electric dryers are completely unnecessary in this climate for most of the year and we've been so intrigued by the washerwomen's inventive use of their surroundings that we've composed a few Haikus in their honour.

On the blessed ghats of the Ganges
turn whites to greys

Laundry maids slap silken sarees
on riverside rocks
Small fish scatter

Laundry floats on the wind
like prayer flags
at a Tibetan temple

The scorching noonday sun
bleaches washing
and darkens washerwomen

An upturned umbrella
makes a satellite dish
for the drying sun

O.K. We know that we are base amateurs when it comes to Haikus, but we also know that some of you are masters in the art. So, for this month's competition, we invite you to write Haikus for the the following images. Winners will have their Haiku published, (though only on our blog), and will receive a voucher entitling them to have a week's laundry washed in the Ganges - (shipping and handling not included).


The deadline is Sunday January 16th. So, if you want to see your clothes washed in the world's longest sewer, get those Haiku caps on and get writing.

Posted by Hawkson 23:22 Archived in India Comments (6)

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