There follows a stream of thoughts from the road between Jaipur and Jodhpur. If you haven’t been to India lots of this won’t mean a thing, but I hope the read will be fun anyway…
Trucks with tassels.
Strips of inner tube hanging beside the wheels whip the tyres and leave them shiny.
Brightly coloured tassels anywhere else you can attach them.
Cows wandering out into the path of hurtling cars on the motorways.
Cars, bike, lorries and anything else going against the flow if that’s what gets them to their destination quicker.
Goats standing on cows backs to reach higher into the trees.
Goats with their balls in sacks!
Man with tractor in outside lane on the motorway, stopped to water the oleanders.
Trucks laden to twice their size.
Massive beards and wild moustaches.
The most vicious speed bumps across main trunk roads that you practically have to stop for.
Open tolls as the country has run out of paper money, and hardly anyone uses coins anyway.
4×4 stickers on auto rickshaws that usually only have three wheels.
Selfies with anyone.
Street side barbers.
Swastikas. The Hindu symbol of good fortune (and bad mis-interpretated in Europe). Everywhere.
Static engines on roadsides pumping air, pumping water, or just pumping because they can.
Kids at every city junction trying to sell any old crap who don’t take no for an answer and persist at the white man’s window until the lights go green and we move on.
Women in high viz jackets that are not as bright as their saris underneath incongruously sweeping bits of road while all around them remains filthy.
Every sign except the main road signs is hand painted.
Piles of discarded sandstone pillars that would cost a packet at home, some used as fence posts, or indeed walls.
No matter how dirty the land looks, women in bright saris and men in gaudy shirts.
The hand that awaits the ten rupee note that doesn’t come as we can’t change money.
Saris out to dry on the oleanders in the middle of the motorway.
The occasional ‘garden’ amidst the dusty roadside shacks where all is beautifully tended with green grass and flowers and the rich drinking tea oblivious to the chaos around them.
Stalls selling huge tassels for the best decorated trucks.
Hand painted advertising for everything, especially universities and 3G providers.
Chai in plastic bags!
Ear cleaners. Yes. Really. Men who will clean your ears for you.
The people who have given up their struggle just lying at the roadside, fading into the dirt.
Beautiful children in immaculate uniforms all hoping you’ll say hello.
Bricks. Millions upon millions of bricks.
4 on a moped. 12 in a three person auto rickshaw.
Piles of rubbish – how did it get so dirty?
Suzuki and Toyota, but not many Ambassadors left.
The broken and unwanted left to decay back into the earth wherever it ceased to function.
Ready smiles on the face of almost everyone.
The most spectacular forts and palaces from 400 years ago, barely restored, yet wonderfully preserved.
Suddenly a new highway, still shiny and black and barely used.
A new cycle lane for safety, completely ignored.
Temples on every hill top where there’s no fort.
Shuffling along in sandals.
Camels dragging carts through the city.
Fuel about 70p a litre, that must be hugely expensive, yet everyone wants a car.
Marigolds. Millions of marigolds.
Barely a single externally attractive building from less than 100 years ago.
200 years ago? New Delhi aside?
Pigs. Wild boar. Snuffling through the roadside rubbish.
Boars push huge cows out of the way to snaffle a tasty morsel.
Truckers stopped at a well, stripped to their pants, washing.
Carrying beautiful silver vessels of water on women’s heads.
The enterprising western brands getting in on the act and ready for the fastest growing middle classes that want everything and want it now.
Car sick from typing en route – swigging warm coke to calm things down.
5 on a moped.
Thousands of miles of agriculture.
Goats in coats.
Shifting stuff from here to there.
Shifting stuff back again.
New walls beautifully built surrounding quadrangles of dirt that’s just the same as the dirt on the outside of the walls.
Approaching Jodhpur, several kilometers of military camps. There are 1.5 million in the Indian military – the world’s second largest force, and a heck of a lot of them must be here.