One of my lasting memories of my trip to Varanasi four years ago is the poor quality of the air, with an almost constant fog over the city, fed by open air fires everywhere and aggressive vehicle exhaust, rather than by the few cremation pyres by the Ganges… I read today in The Guardian that the city actually ranks worst in India for its air quality. (I also read in that article that Gwalior had similar issues, although I remember a pleasant walk around the fort there, in the sun. Presumably on one of the few “good” air quality days.) Not that Paris is doing great in the past days, with a whole week of ineffective driving restrictions that left wood heating operating at full blast. I did not feel the air difference while biking, but I presume the impact of the micro-particles central to those pollution alerts is more long-term!
Archive for Rajasthan
Although the visit of the Ranthambore National Park felt too much like a tourist trap, with dozens of jeeps and trucks criss-crossing the dirt roads at a density such that it is surprising they ever see tigers!, it was quite informative to observe the reactions (and plain colonial attitudes) of our fellow jeep passengers:
– (To me) Could you sit in the middle? I had the middle seat on the previous trip and I could not see a thing.
– (To the driver, after crossing a cattle herd) Now that we have seen these cows, could we please move somewhere where we can see some wild animals? Is this still the National Park? We are supposed to spend the visit in the National Park!
– (To the driver, as we were visibly heading back) Sir, we have paid till 10:30, there remains one hour, could we go somewhere else in the park and look for some wild animals? We should be given another chance to see tigers…
Definitely a snapshot, caught once again from the car as we were driving in the sunset towards the Ranthambore National Park…. And illustrating my impression of a very harsh land for women as they could be seen carrying wood, water, food, or fodder along the roads, but also working in the fields, carrying gravel on construction sites, looking after children, and very very rarely having chai with pals on a roadsize shack, unlike the male part of the population. (Obviously, looking at a place solely from the viewpoint of a car backseat is a sure way for oversimplification, but the opposition was nonetheless striking!)