Dear friends and family,

Distances are great in India and travel time even longer. We’re traveling in high season, so all trains were booked months in advance. We would have loved to take an overnight train to Jaisalmer. All classes were fully booked, and I don’t think we would consider taking anything lower than first class on an Indian train, spoiled Americans that we are. So we flew to Jodhpur, which is not quite so far west as Jaisalmer. There were no flights to Jaisalmer; I read it is because it is so close to the Pakistan border and the uneasy political situation.

Our wonderful chauffeur/driver, Raj, picked us up from the airport after driving all of the previous afternoon and most of the night. Raj has the most soothing low mellow voice (not unlike a French man) and reminds Don of his Uncle Amaury Caron, also a French man.

Raj or Rajender drove us a fair distance and down a narrow dusty road where we parked in front of an imposing old building. 

This is Pal Garh in the village of Pal outside of Jodhpur.

Raj tells us that this attractive woman in her gorgeous outfit is an untouchable. How can you tell? Probably her clothes, but mostly as she is sweeping and picking up trash. So far many of the untouchable women I've seen have been wearing the white arm bracelets, but Raj says that is not a strictly untouchable thing.

As only untouchables can pick up trash, this contributes greatly to the trash and litter problem all over India. There just aren't enough untouchables to do the job. I'm just repeating conversations we've had with our driver. If anybody knows better and can correct me, feel free.

Our spacious room; we were lucky to stay here 3 nights.

Breakfast off the garden

You may have noticed I didn't show you any photos of our hotel in Delhi. It was pretty mundane.

Ready for breakfast

Raj in blue shirt and other drivers eating their meal.

Across the street

And a little ways down.

The little girl noticed I was taking her picture and posed shyly.

Strolling the dusty streets

First day in Jodhpur and we went to the stunning Mehrangarh Fort. It was so gorgeously detailed that I felt I could not take it all in in my still jet-lagged condition.

Hard to imagine anyone attacking this place.

The spikes on this formidable door are meant to discourage elephant attacks. I imagined war parties on elephants, hot oil raining down on them, and the poor elephants trying to force the doors.

Shrine to the widows of Jodhpur maharajahs who had committed sati on their husband's funeral pyres. The British made the practice illegal for any widow under 16 or pregnant. Sometimes it seems as if we have not made much progress in our march or stumble through history, but we have.

Shades of St. Petersburg; many of these royals seemed to have similar tastes.

Mehrangarh is mammoth, so many levels, so many rooms. I think we saw only a small part of it.

I think these were part of the women's quarters with all the shuttered windows, the better to peek through to see what's happening in the courtyard.

Love and posting this while we have the chance (internet connection working for now),

Era and Don