Monday, 20 April 2009

Village Life in Orccha

A friendly local

India as a country is filled with interesting sights be they natural, historical, archaeological etc. But what has the potential to turn any travel experience in India from "just" great to truly unforgettable is the people. Not only are the Indian people exotic (to a westerner) in every sense of the word, they also have that unique sense of hospitality and curiousness towards strangers, which we have sadly long forgotten about in the West. Meeting locals and often visiting them in their homes have given me and Nitoli of our greatest moments in India.

People's homes in Orccha

Stands selling multi-coloured dye

As in the west this openness to strangers is fading in the bigger cities, such as Delhi, which is why it is all the more enjoyable to visit smaller towns and villages. Although Orccha is a bit of a tourist hotspot there it is still sufficiently off the main tourist trails to allow many authentic glimpses of real village life.

A not-so-Indian pizza in a small family run Orccha restaurant

Orccha village

When Nitoli and I spent our afternoon on top of the temple with the tower of vultures (see my last post) we were given access by a young local man (top picture), who ended up spending several hours with us up there and just asked for a small tip. Afterwards he surprisingly invited us to come visit his home and we accepted: We have after all been in India long enough to have a good sense of when invitations are genuine and when they come with a hidden agenda - this one was perfectly sincere.

Soon we were joined by several of his neighbours, especially many young girls who were keen to show off how well they could imitate the newest Bollywood moves. One of them had reasonably won a local talent dancing contest.

The dance contest winner

Those Bollywood moves

Ladies from the neighbourhood watching

Exchanging addresses - postal that is, not email

5 comments:

mani said...

Esben

Your blog is awesome, and it looks like you have gotten to a point where you can look beyond the obvious discomforts( power cuts, dust, lack of organised traffic, crowding etc..)in India, to some of the truly interesting things.Also I have rarely heard you complain about these discomforts.. that makes you a very unusual visitor to the country!
But I am curious about one thing: What is it in India that keeps you going, everyday? Also, would you rather see more of the country become like the folks in Orchha, or like a city like Delhi ?

Miss Eclectic said...

I totally second mani on that. i love your blog for that reason and of course, for much more.though i got to admit your past 4-5 posts have been a little boring(compared to your earlier posts) since all you pretty much talk about architecture/monuments..and that kind of stuff for some of us is not as interesting as for e.g. the people you meet and their lives/culture.

Miss Eclectic said...

regardless, i appreciate your blogging cuz you provide us who don't live in india an insight on India.

Esben said...

@Mani,

Thanks for your comment. You raise some interesting points, but honestly I would say I have never been at a point where I couldn't look beyond the discomforts. Even from day 1 India was an adventure, not something I just had to get through - although I've certainly met the expat types who seem to do nothing but complain and long for the day their contract expires and they can return back to Europe/USA.

But with all that being said I still have days when the little annoyances get to me. Especially the sometimes bizarre ways people act in traffic can at times get my blood boiling (e.g. backing on the highway because you missed your exit or accelerating when pedestrians try to cross the street in front of you in order to scare them into backing down). But after venting for a few minutes such things pass. All the other things you mention just doesn't bother me much - I guess it's simply a matter of temperament.

So in a way I don't really need anything to keep me going, because life here doesn't really feel like an uphill ride.

Would I like people to be more like Delhi or Orchha. Hard to say. I find plenty of kindness everywhere, also in Delhi. But I would obviously like the folks in Orccha to get higher living standards, although I realise that too much development in a short span of time can also pose certain risk to traditional culture and family patterns.

Esben said...

@Miss Eclectic,

Thanks for your comment, also. The topic of the blog tends to vary with whatever kind of travel I have done. A place like Orchha with all it's ruins tends to invite more of the historical/archaeological angle. The current updates on the front page are from trekking so they focus more on nature and landscapes, although there is also some village life shown there.

Soon I will start posting from my last trip to Nagaland which will put a lot of focus on the tribal groups up there as well as my in-laws in the state.