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India, Tordi Sagar – 16th March 2015 A contrast to the dazzling city lights and sights of Jaipur we arrived in the rural village of Tordi Sagar. Set among vast agriculture farmlands and upon the backdrop of a temple topped mountain our hotel was a budget version of The Marigold Hotel. The rather unusual stormy weather of Jaipur had now been replaced by crystal clear blue skies and scorching sun shine as far as the eye could see. This was more like it! image Deciding to take advantage of the weather we agreed to play a spot of Cricket. How British, in fact, how Indian. Explaining the rules to our American and Mexican travel companions the game began. Our American friend Caden picked the game up pretty quick utilising skills he had developed when playing baseball. Now my cricket skills are questionable at the best of times but I have been known to bowl a few dazzlers in my time. I’m pleased to say that today was no exception. image Taking the recently dog chewed, red and worn tennis ball in my preferred right hand I began my run. I galloped as if I was Freddie Flintoff bowling against the arch enemy Australia as if I was fighting to win the infamous Ashes. The packed and rowdy Lords stadium roared as I approached the line and I flung the bowl at a considerable pace towards CP our G Adventures tour leader. Without bouncing he stepped out into the shot but clumsily missed it… The ball crashed into his family jewels and he fell onto the dusty ground. His nerve receptors relayed one of mans worse pains back to his brain and he squeaked out a high pitch yelp. At this point we all laughed hysterically with little sign of sympathy. We continued our game until a local boxer dog named Tyson stole the ball and locked his jaw tight fending off any attempts to retrieve it. The game over was over and the dog was announced as the winner. After cricket we went for an adventurous and bumpy ride in a 40 year old jeep around the village. We walked among the farmlands and we were explained how farm life works in Tordi Sagar. I’m not quite sure how that jeep was still functioning but the driver had an unique way to start the engine. If the key start didn’t turn over after the fourth or fifth time of trying he opened up the rusty bonnet as it emitted blackening smoke and ignited his own spark to kick start the engine. I can barely change a light at the best of times. image The jeep successfully made it to the village dam site. This local historical landmark has been used through the years to irrigate the lands and ensure the fields yield luscious crops to use in home made family meals and to sell at local market bazaars. image CP decided to use this spot as a good chance to explain the basics of India’s caste system to us. The caste system is a process of placing people in occupational groups. The four main groups are: Brahmana: Consist of those engaged in scriptural education and teaching. Kshatriya: Take on all forms of public service, including admin., maintenance of law and order, and defense. Vaishya: Engage in commercial activity as businessmen. Shudra: Work as semi-skilled and unskilled labourers. The most obvious problem with this system was that under its rigidity, the lower castes were prevented from aspiring to climb higher, and, therefore, economic progress was restricted. Certain groups, now known as “Dalits”, were excluded from the varna system altogether, ostracised as untouchables. Discrimination against lower castes is now illegal in India. Various programmes have been initiated by the government and just because a person is of a certain caste does not mean they can only work a certain job. We continued our journey and trekked up a gentle set of sand dunes that arose from the farmland grounds like heaps of golden coins. How I wish they were. I could travel forever then! image We clambered to the top, took a pew, enjoyed a chai masala and admired the beauty that stretched as far as the eye could see. It reminded me of the Lion King when Mufasa explains to Simba that “everything the light touches is our kingdom”. What my eyes were seeing appeared to be surreal and similar to that of a Disney imagined environment but this was real! It was incredible. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine India to be like this. image On the way back down to the jeep we passed a group of young Indian lads who were rather intoxicated. One of the particular sweaty ones decided to greet Dani and Ana and ignore everyone else. He introduced himself and then immediately left. Smooth customer I thought. It’s nice to know that British customs such as ‘Dutch courage’ exist even in India. We headed back to the hotel for our evening meal under the stars and after some fine dining I decided to introduce everyone to a game close to my heart, ‘Ring of Fire’. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this game you basically form a ring with a set of cards and each pick one in turn. Each card is a particular game or forfeit. By 8:30pm, CP was a self confessed drunk. By 9:00pm he had walked accidentally into a wall while trying to navigate his way to the toilet. In the same timeframe he had been sick. We were in the middle of rural India having a private party on the rooftop of our hotel and when Clean Bandit pumped from the cheap USB speakers the night was complete. It was perfect! CP was last to breakfast in the morning. No surprises there. His eyes resembled that of a glazed golf fish eye with the addition of blood shot veins running in all directions. We’ve all been there. He stumbled his way through our morning orientation walk around the village and life slowly poured back into him as he guzzled down water. image We watched a local man skilfully craft pots from clay sourced from the lands. image We dropped in on a local school and watched the smartly dressed children sit on the floor as they were lectured. image We walked among various animals including the ever present, unmovable cows and friendly stray dogs. Tordi Sagar was a great place to visit and we all wished for another night. However some things are better left short and sweet so our journey progressed to the next destination, Pushkar. “Not all those who wander are lost”

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