Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Big Trip - Part Two - Seeing a bit of the 'real' India

We are now in Rajkot which is in the state of Gudjurat. This is not a tourist destination, but is a place where quite a few of the people in our group have family and heritage. Within the last few days we have also visited Ahmedabad in the same region. It is much dryer here, so the landscape has changed quite a lot and Rajkot in particular is much poorer and polluted. It is incredible to have been given the chance to visit places off the tourist trail, but it has also been hard to see the way people live - we take so much for granted at home.

While we were in Ahmedabad we visited Gandhi's Ashram. It is a very simple, but beautiful place and I felt very emotional walking around the small huts and gardens and seeing a place where Gandhi lived. He was a tiny amazing man and we should all be thankful for the huge amount of change he created in terms of race and class equality. I took a film of a lady spinning cotton in Gandhi's hut - hopefully it has uploaded below:

Below are some images taken at the Ashram:

In Ahmedabad we also visited a Jain temple - there was a pre wedding blessing going on and we couldn't take photos, but it was pretty stunning from the outside too!

Part of the wedding decorations included this lovely sand painting on the floor outside the temple. 

We drove to Rajkot yesterday - the first thing we did was visit a Girls' Academy which is funded by charitable donations and sponsorship. The Academy is an amazing place which currently has 140 girls between the ages of 5 and 16 living there. All the girls come from poor backgrounds and are either orphans or have families who can't afford to keep them. 

I really enjoyed visiting the Academy, not only because it was inspiring to see a place doing so much good for young girls, but for me personally it was an absolute treat of colour! The four images below are of the cooking pans and kitchens:

The following images are of the dormitory. One room sleeps 120 girls in 60 bunk beds. The girls keep their belongings in a suitcase or a few small bags under their beds.

The images below were taken in the dining room - the girls sit on the floor to eat and there are a few chairs for the teachers. The portraits all around the top of the rooms are of the various benefactors who have donated to the school.

The basins below are in the courtyard at the front of the Academy - one of the first images above shows the courtyard with all the brightly coloured washing hanging.

A great colour combination on the staircase!

We disrupted the girls' lessons - they were so excited to see us, Mum and I were a particular attraction I think!

Today we spent a short time in a small local museum. There was not a huge amount to see, but these old illustrated manuscripts took my fancy - no doubt they are telling a terrible story, judging by the imagery, but the colours and patterns are really interesting.

To round off our day we walked around some of the local streets and visited a couple of the traditional fabric/sari stores. The dresses and fabrics are incredibly cheap and its easy to get carried away - many of the group have bought more than 5 or 6 new outfits as the prices are so low compared to home.

But poverty is never far away and it is images like these below and seeing the children begging for food in the street that can really jolt you back to reality. India is a land of contrasts and I have to say its a total education to see it for my own eyes, even after years of seeing it on TV and knowing these extremes exist.

Tomorrow we are bound for Goa!