Our tour began with the Delhi flower market at Ghazipur. Ghazipur otherwise is better known for its slotterhouse.
The flower market is a whole sale market therefore no organized shops. There are stalls with baskets of flowers and everyone is out to sell.
We then moved to Agra.
In case you are wondering, yes we did visit the Taj but it was my seventh visit to it and I did not take many photographs.
The more interesting bits with respect to the Taj lie outside it. These are the art and craft shops that sell you replicas of the taj and show you how they are made and do other marble related work. Most of the designs involve complex geometrical patterns. The carving is done by hand using a chisel. I did ask about 3d-printing and other machines. I am told that the marble is very soft and machines will break the stone. The designers are also very experienced. There is no cadcam software. The people have been doing it from generations and the skill is passed from father to son as far as I could tell.
We then moved to Jaipur.
I did try using the vOICe to determine how much of the cloth I have colored and have printed on. It is a non-trivial task because the paint / ink is very light when you apply it. It does darken after drying but this is going to take a lot of work. Moreover, because of the poor contrast, it was difficult to make out what patterns I had printed.
One of the most interesting things we did in Jaipur was to visit shops selling gems and Jewry and see how they are made. They had a little setup outside the shop where one could see the workers polishing gems etc. You need to be careful with the cutting wheel and the polishing is intricate work best done during the day because it needs natural light for the colors to stand out. Again, I tried looking at the setup. It may be possible to determine how much of a stone is polished using vision but the hand appeared to be a better tool for the job at least for now. In addition, the process cannot be completely automated because of the soft stones in use and how will a machine create a design? Heuristics of some kind coupled with a neural net with massive amounts of data are perhaps options but until that happens, it is up to human ingenuity to create designs. Again, this trade is based on generations.
It may be possible to tell semiprecious stones apart by their texture but I am uncertain if this is a reliable means of identification.
Be warned, you do not sense the wind if you are outside the palace. The monument is on a busy street and is a quick photo stop unless you want to go inside and climb the several stairs. I did not have an opportunity to do this.
We had a chance to visit fort Amer. The drive up to the fort is a lot of fun if you take the elephant. In addition, forget the term “camera shy” because there an inordinate number of photographers seeking your custom.
We then moved to Jodhpur.
We then moved to Pushkar for sun and sand but found much more.
This trip was special in many ways. For one, I had a multilingual group and our conversations were conducted in English, Hindi and German. I was mistaken for a foreign tourist which was intriguing and most of all, I had not seen my country through the eyes of a foreigner before. It showed me how much I took for granted.
Aparna Mathur leadership consultant / art, history and food lover for the image descriptions
Girdhari Singh Shekhawat
our fearless guide and leader and one of the fastest learners I have ever had the chance to meet
Anil Dhyani Shrooti Sharma, June and the other staff of Sita Travels for giving me the opportunity of co-leading the tour and for fantastic organization
Laura Kutter, CEO of Tour de sens for some fantastic conversation and brilliant organization and group management
Marcel and Raphaela Franke for being who you are and for breaking the ice
Barbara Krug for fantastic conversations and navigation in tricky places
Sigrid Gleser for breaking the ice and stimulating technical conversation
Rita Gleser for intriguing teaching opportunities and food
Claudia for the laughs
Teena, Christina, Gregor and everyone else for the fun.