The change of the provinces
As this journey has unfolded, I have seen quite a marked change when I enter from one province to the next, the style of dwellings change, dress changes, food changes as well as the look and attitude of the people.
Kashmir was the start, I probably had the least interaction with the people here, as language was a huge issue. I found the people very friendly, but in discussion there was always a distinct turn to push the conversation in the political direction trying to find out if I had any views, which I made sure that I was neutral. I also feel that I did not get an accurate cross section of the food as the most of the places that I ate were the roadside low-grade truck stop points which served really cheap stews and chapatti – bread. Most of the guys all wore the distinct robe that looked like the dress that you would see in Pakistan. All in all I feel I did not see the best of the province from where I ran.
Then, came Punjab and Harryana, the breadbasket of India, the most fertile farming area, but unfortunately the most polluted area that I have ever been in my life, with Ludihana the most polluted city in this area. This is a rich province, very friendly people and open homes. There is this saying about the area “Money Power Man” that’s Punjab. The roads are manic though, hooters that blasted my eardrums into extinction. The food is really great, but very rich and oily. There was a marked difference in the weight of the people in this area, everyone seemed to benefit from the rich food and to put it politely had a little waddled to their stride. Here the dress was more what I would call Indian, soft fabric but quite reserved in colour.
The province that has definitely stood out to me has been Rajasthan. It might be poor in resources, but it’s rich in culture and pride in its people. This place is sparse, dry in parts but very fertile in others. It has some of the most beautiful buildings that I have ever seen. Clean cold desert air and then the quiet open spaces where you can just sit and gather your thoughts after the madness of the cities. The people are uncomplicated, friendly and hospitable, but I must admit its like that all over India. The other thing that stands out in this province is the brightly clad women. They seem to radiate colour as they stand and toil in the sun, working the fields. Then there is the graceful camel that just quietly glides across the plains of Rajasthan, never flustered or in any way showing signs that anything bothers it as it effortlessly disappears over the dunes and into the distance.
Yesterday I crossed the border into Madhya Predesh, so a new experience will take me into Christmas.