Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Road Trip

Last weekend Donna and I took a road trip with Jaya, our housekeeper, Ram, her husband and Joseph our driver. This was a birthday present for Jaya. We visited several interesting tourist sites, which I hope to find time to write about later. For today I want to share some interesting sights along the way. In several places we saw men and oxen or cattle plowing fields. You can't see it in these pictures but there is a steel plowshare or blade, down below the ground.

I included the second picture to illustrate several things. First, the man has to work quite hard to hold the plowshare down where it will break the soil. Otherwise, it rises up and just drags over the ground, not doing any work. Also, notice that the man is barefoot. The plow consists of the steel plowshare and the steel handle rising up high enough that the man can lean on as he walks behind. This mounts on the wooden shaft and is held in place with rope and wire going all the way up to the cross piece which goes across the draft animals shoulders.
The hotel were we stayed over night is in the town of Hassan. We had lunch and dinner there. We reached the dining room by taking the lift down to the ground floor, then walking up to the dining room. We did not realize that we could hit the 5 button in the lift and get out on the floor between ground and 1st where the dining room is located. In most tall buildings in India ground floor is called "0" and next floor is "1". I'm not sure if they actually consider floor with the dining room fifth floor or if they didn't have an appropriate button.

This very substantial looking road sign is built of bricks, covered with cement and painted. We saw this same message repeatedly along the road which was a two lane national highway (NH-48) and in quite good shape. The highway carries vehicles with a range for cruising speeds. In order of increasing speed, these include: ox drawn carts carrying farm produce, tractor drawn carts carrying construction materials, motor-scooters carrying families of 5, three wheeled trucks, government buses, private autos and high end motorcycles carrying young men with neither helmets nor any fear of death. If your vehicle is toward the high end of this range you spend a lot of time trying to pass the low end and the signs are to remind you that there is convention of driving in the left lane...A concept which is slowly catching on in India.

Sunday morning we stopped at this village market and purchased some vegetables. Compared to an American supermarket fresh fruits and vegetables are very cheap in Bangalore. But outside the city in local markets they are half that price or even less. For example Jaya paid five rupees (about $0.10) for the kilogram of squash in this picture.
In the US, when you buy purchase by the pound they put a sticker on it which gives the exact weight and a price calculated to the nearest penny. I know a couple of supermarkets in Bangalore that do that, but most give you more than kilo for the stated price per kilo. And aren't happy if you want them to sell a certain number of items that don't come to an easy number to calculate. Here you see a simple hanging balance with a 1 kilo weight in one pan and more than a kilo of squash in the other.
At the corner market near my apartment the boy who sells produce will sometimes take a large piece of fruit off the scale and substitute a smaller one to make the weight is closer to one kilo (but of course still somewhat more). At this market I didn't see anyone do that. Whatever was on the scale when it tipped was delivered to the customer. In the case of Jaya's squash, after dumping all of these squash into a plastic bag the woman threw in a couple more just for good customer relations.

Jaya pointed out that when we were standing next to her one vendor quoted her a price they cost twice as much as she eventually at a different vendor. As she said this the first vender was nearby, and he just smiled at us. Of course, I don't know if he understood English.

I included this picture of a private home to show you how they are used for advertising. I don't know what kind of financial arrangement the home owner has with the advertiser, but it must be worthwhile to both, because it is very common to see the sides of a house and some times even the front used as a billboard. Often you'll see several houses in a row all advertising the same company. In addition to building materials, I remember "billboards" for cell phone companies and insurance companies. And there were many ads which were entirely in Kannada as in the last picture of this posting.
But that is not why this picture is here. To understand this picture you have to know that in India there is a celebration call "Holi". (see our posting from 22 March 08) This holiday is observed by spraying, throwing or smearing colored water or powder on pretty much anyone within range.

Donna's turn:
The day before I'd seen some goats standing by a roadside shop that were bright pink. "Pink goats? Why are the goats pink? Oh, Holi was a while ago. They've been Holi'd.----Wait,Wait! This is way too good to pass up."

But by the time I processed this all, we'd driven on a ways, and Joseph, our driver (yes, it's confusing) didn't want to turn around and go back. He said, "We'll be coming back this way tomorrow. We can stop then."
Since he had just said that we should let him know if we wanted to stop anywhere, and he'd stop, and I doubted the pink goats would be there the next day, I was a bit annoyed. But since there were other people in the car, I decided not to hold everybody up just to get a picture.

The next day, when he realized I'd wanted to get a picture of the pink goats we'd passed, he was very apologetic. So we were driving very slowly, looking for pink goats, when we discovered the farmer's market.

Well, I think someone above thought it was funny too, because when I got out to go check out the market with Jaya and Joseph, I spied a pink goat an a nearby house! Not nearly as pink as the ones the day before, but it was pink. I was just about to take a picture, when a man came to lead the goat away. "Can I just take a picture first?" I asked. Just then another man and three boys walked by, and I asked him if they would be in the picture too. So I got the image I'd seen the day before. Here you see: The father, the sons, and the Holi'd goat."

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