|During our journey on the Maharajas Express, an impressive fireworks display was orchestrated at Hanwant Mahal located in Umaid Palace in Jodhpur, aka, The Khaas Bagh. We were honored and breathless. See the post here.
Today’s photos are a compilation of photos we’d taken in our travels in India before the lockdown. Included will be the link for each post on which the photo appeared. Photos will be divided for February 2020 and March 2020 today and tomorrow’s New Year’s Day.
|“The Taj Mahal, Crown of the Palace is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenelated wall.” See the post here.
Well, here it is, New Year’s Eve 2020, a challenging year for all of us to put behind us. Unfortunately, the year’s end doesn’t end the woeful state of the world in light of Covid-19. The fears, the stress, the lockdowns, and the subsequent loss of life and financial security will remain well into 2021.
|From this site: “Indian Statesman and Spiritual Leader. Mohandas Gandhi, who came to be popularly known as “Mahatma” (Great Soul), was born a colonial subject of the British Empire. He studied law at University College in London and was admitted to the bar in 1891. In 1893, Gandhi became a legal advisor for an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa (then also a British colony). Appalled at the racism against South Asians there, Gandhi became an activist for equal rights. However, Gandhi disdained the violent tactics often employed by socialist and anarchist activists and advocated new forms of nonviolent resistance, collectively known as “Satyagraha” (truth and firmness). Influenced by traditional Hinduism and the works of Jesus, Leo Tolstoy, and Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi’s methods stressed change by noncooperation with the colonial authorities, including disruptive (though nonviolent) demonstrations and general strikes and boycotts. See the post here.
When it ends is beyond the speculation of the medical profession, scientists, or politicians who espouse their personal views on what we can expect in the future. Vaccines aren’t rolling out quickly enough. Many are refusing vaccines, and stubborn, thoughtless people throughout the world continue to refuse to wear a mask, social distance, and maintain a high degree of personal hygiene.
|My spectacular dinner was made by the thoughtful chef at the Amritsar Ramada, where we’ll stay for three nights. See the post here.
Most likely, after the holiday season ends, within a week or two, we’ll see a resurgence of cases when many have refused to avoid crowded indoor spaces at gatherings. How does this impact us? In many ways, especially in our ability to get out of India.
This giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple in Shimla on November 4, 2010. See the post here.
Yesterday, India revised its Covid-19 international flight policy as follows in this article here.
“India has extended its ban on international flights to 31 January, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced today. India was set to lift the ban on international flights on 31 December after nine months of restrictions before today’s changes.
International flights will be suspended until February.
Since the pandemic outbreak, India has suspended international flights to curb the spread of the virus. Restrictions were due to be lifted on 31 December before the DGCA extended the ban by a month. Now international flights will have to wait until at least the beginning of February – India has extended its ban multiple times this year and may do so again.”
|Me and our guide. Shoes are not allowed in the area of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Women must wear scarves, and men must wear some form of a turban. See the post here.
Of course, I saw this article in the middle of the night when I happened to awaken. First thing this morning, I contacted Emirates Airlines to inquire if this would result in the cancellation of our upcoming flight. They stated that based on the fact we’d booked our new flight before this recent lockdown, we should be allowed to leave.” The keyword here is “should.”
|Amit helped Tom fashion a turban to enter the Golden Temple. I thought he looked good with it! See the post here.
This morning, Tom and I discussed the possibility that if we aren’t allowed to leave, we have to face the reality that we may end up back here at this hotel or another, depending on what we decide to do at the time. We must face this reality, although it’s not easy to do.
|Aligned and ready to perform at the nightly ceremony at the closing of the border gates between India and Pakistan. See the post here.
This uncertainty is causing me to feel a little stressed, although I continue to strive to maintain an even keel day after day. I guess I’m more worried about Tom than myself. But, he assures me, he’ll handle it if we can’t leave. He’s kept his expectations in check, whereby I have embraced the prospect of leaving India with enthusiasm. If we can’t go, a change of hotel (and food) may be helpful, but with this hotel, at least we know how diligent they’ve been in maintaining a clean environment. “Love the one you’re with!”
|Sunrise over the Ganges River before the beginning of the morning ceremonies on the river. See the post here.
In the past few days, we’ve seen more guests wearing face masks than we’d seen in the past many months. This has been comforting to both of us, especially during our walks in the corridor. It feels better not to have to tell other guests to wear a mask. I only had to tell one person this morning, as opposed to six or more.
|One of several cremation sites along the Ganges in Varanasi. Women prepare the bodies while men attend the cremation for however many hours it takes. Bodies are cremated within six hours of death when possible. The cremation fee is typically INR 14306.31, US $200, and most families have enough funds to cover the cost. The ashes are pushed into the river. Note the firewood in this scene. See the post here.
As for New Year’s Eve, it holds little interest for either of us at this point. The front desk staff called this morning to inform us it will be noisy tonight, well past midnight. There’s a big party happening tonight. We have no choice but to accept this reality. Also, Vinood, the manager on duty, called to tell us that our Covid-19 tests are scheduled for January 9th between 9:00 and 10:00 am. Hopefully, this won’t be in vain.
|The nightly ceremonies on the Ganges River were easily observed from our reserved balcony seating. What a great way to celebrate my birthday! The nine umbrellas represent the nine planets. Hindus value every aspect of the planet and the universe. See the post here.
So there it is, folks, today’s status and concerns. We wrap this up, wishing every one of our family/readers/friends a safe and happy New Year. May we all come out of 2020 with hope and optimism for the new year to come.
Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2019:
|We’ve shared this freaky photo from a sighting in our bush house on New Year’s Eve, 2013, several times. This foot-long insect, a Giant Africa Millipede (as long as my forearm), was on the wall by the bathroom door in the master bedroom, which made us cringe. Tom, as always, disposed of it outdoors, but of course, didn’t kill it. Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of that night, fearing that the rains of the previous few days may have brought more of these ugly things indoors. For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.