Incredible India

It really is Incredible India as the sign says when you enter customs. 

India is ancient temples;

sacred cattle in the streets;

new temples;

women in saris;

traffic jams everywhere yet every driver inviting others to pull in front of them;

caparisoned (decorated) elephants giving rides on the side of the road;

men wearing turbans, 

bodies wrapped in colorful paper and ribbon being brought on the top of 

vehicles  for their sacred cremation in the Ganges River in Varanasi;

 the magnificent Taj Mahal at 6 a.m. in the morning;

and the curry-spiced Indian food.

It’s the top hotel palaces in the world;

a houseboat ride on canals around Kerala;

 Kathakali dancers and Kalaripayattu ancient martial arts

 demonstration at Kumarakom;

Three huge caparisoned elephants in a Hindu temple ceremony in Kerala,

yoga lessons in spiritual Kerala/Cochin;

and climbing the 225 steps to Elephanta Island near Bombay/Mumbai to see the ancient carving.

 In Bombay/Mumbai, it’s the Dabbawallahs

on their daily deliveries of fresh-cooked food from each customer’s home delivered for lunch

in their Bombay offices in Tiffins without a mistake; 

the largest democracy in the world;

the Dhobi Ghats where residents have their laundry washed in many concrete vats outside

 and pounded and pounded until clean, then dried and delivered to the Bombay/Mumbai home;

where everyone has a job no matter his/her status;

where trains stuffed with people arrive continuously into Bombay/Mumbai;

where new modern buildings are built next door to a slum of tents.

It’s a special Maharajah dinner evening in Jaipur with

caparisoned elephants, camels, horses and people dancing to the beat of the music, and pashminas for warming shoulders.

India is a country that is not to be missed for a life-changing experience and a trip of a lifetime on Tauck World Discovery’s all inclusive tour because it is truly incredible India.



Mr. Cricket Fighting Gambler in Beijing

He appeared suddenly, carrying a wooden case. Chest bulging, he introduced himself as Mr. Cricket. Christina and I thought he was joking. We were eating a home-cooked Chinese meal in a Beijing, China Hutong when Mr. Cricket walked up and began telling us about cricket fighting.

In a deep raspy voice that matched his deeply wrinkled, suntanned skin, Liu Yong Jiang explained how he has raised fighting crickets for 30 years. He reached into his sweatshirt, pulled out a jar with a cricket inside, and set it on our lunch table. We started laughing. The man couldn’t be serious.

But he was.

A good quality cricket is very expensive, Mr. Cricket told us through a translator, and can cost as much as a horse.  A man can lose his wife, house, or land over cricket fighting.

Baby crickets take 100 days to mature to adulthood, but fighting begins at two months of age. Mr. Cricket explained that he uses a stick with two mouse hairs attached to it to train his cricket. He has to be very careful in handling a cricket, as picking one up with the hand could break its legs. He uses a wire strainer to catch and pick the insect up, and special utensils for cleaning and feeding it.

To prepare his cricket for a fight, Mr. Cricket bathes, feeds, and waters it. The fight occurs in a bowl. Competitors fight until one jumps out. The winning cricket sells for a lot of money, sometimes into the thousands of dollars. Mr. Cricket showed us his 2005 China Cricket Fighting Championship certificate. His prize was a car.

As he was leaving, he told the cricket to tell us goodbye. The cricket raised his right leg and waved.   Mr. Cricket was no longer a joke to us.Cruise-SydBei2011 523