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A Memsahib’s Blessing: Her Driver.

Do you need to find me?

Ask my driver, Jagmohan.   He knows where I am.  He has chauffeured me through the streets of Delhi for three years and counting.

Jagmohan takes me to work:  He knows that on Mondays  I teach at this campus;  Wednesdays and Fridays I teach at that one.  He drives the kids to school, to soccer, to baseball.   He runs my errands with me.

Jagmohan knows where I get my hair cut, my nails done, and my teeth cleaned.  He knows my haunts, my book club homes, and my habits.  When he sees me rushing in the morning he asks me if I have my cell phone because I often forget it.

He’s seen me yell at the kids, yell at other drivers, yell at the traffic.  He listens to my phone calls (how could he not?), knows my moods, and drives fast when I need him to rush.

He’s heard me sing out of tune, seen me cry, and watched me worry.

He delivers me to the bus station, train station, and airport – happy for the break that my travels afford him, and bears a hearty smile when he collects me on my return.

Jagmohan knows where I buy imported ice-cream, wine, and face cream.   Sometimes I send him on errands alone:  He pays the phone, cable, and gas bills and makes xerox copies for my classes.

He knows what medicines I take; which chemist I prefer.  He knows that I used to buy chemotherapy drugs for a patient in Beijing because the drugs were cheaper here.  Jagmohan even sourced the cheapest and most reliable supplier for me when he found out how much I was spending on that medicine.

And he tolerates my quirks:  He removes the headrest from the front passenger seat so my view from the backseat is unobstructed.  He avoids certain intersections because he knows that I. Just. Don’t. Like. Them.

He even introduced me to my friend, Lola.

On weekends, I drive myself with a lead foot, a quick temper, and a blind spot for speed bumps, according to my family.  (Backseat drivers… all of them!)

But Weekdays are Jagmohan’s.  He captains my car and navigates my routines better than I could on my own.

Happy Navratri, Jagmohan.  And Thank You.

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Here are a few of my favorite Lutyens Delhi street signs.  Notice that they are written in four languages:  Hindi, Punjabi, English and Urdu. (“Marg” means street.)

(Anyone out there know how I can remove photos from the gallery without removing them from the post?)


I snapped this precious shot on the way to school (and of course, Jagmohan slowed down so I could get the picture when he saw me grab my camera):

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The Best Exotic Colorful Rajasthan

The colors of Rajasthan pop-out in sharp contrast to the dry and dusty hills that roll through the state.   Electric hues are cheerful ornaments on a landscape that’s not always easy to look at: Blue walls paint dilapidated villages with cheer;  Pink saris wrap poor women in the regal;  Red turbans turn sheep herders into modern Indian cowboys.

This is why I keep going back.  It’s an easy sell with the kids, too.  And it’s relatively manageable – a consideration that prefaces travel plans in India when you have children.

We spent three days in Rajasthan this week at an old feudal property three to four hours from Delhi.  It’s only 170 kilometers away, or 106 miles – but travel here takes time.

And patience.  (The vehicular, human, and animal traffic.)

And a steel will. (The trucks. The potholes.)

The effort to get to a destination makes the arrival especially satisfying.

After our bumpy passage to Patan Mahal,  the kids escaped from the car to explore the nooks and passages of the old estate.  You can usually count on ramps for horses or elephants, lots of hidden stairwells, layers of balconies, and breezy verandas.  If the kids are old enough to run around without getting into too much trouble… well then, visiting property like this one is close to paradise for a family.

There are a number of palaces in India that are owned by the descendants of ancient royalty.  We stayed in a relatively new property, dating back to the 18th century:

Its middle-ages predecessor (now abandoned) sat further up the hill (first photo), and on top of the mountain, the medieval fort and oldest ruin of the local royal seat (bottom).  We dragged 10 kids to both sites:

Climbing this shale with my throbbing, post-race knee wasn’t easy – but as someone reminded me, there’s plenty of time to lie around when life is over.

Here’s our victory rest in a sliver of shade at the top of the hike:

And our victory swim at the bottom:

Poor Eddie braved the burrs.  Anyone wearing nylon or cotton was victim:

Foreigners are still a rare sight in small villages like this one.  Children greeted us with handshakes and smiles and offerings of a few English words.  The camera is a good ambassador and everyone loved seeing themselves on the LCD screen:

Isn’t she stunning?  “Bahut sundar,” I told her – Very Beautiful:

We bought bangles here:

This lady covered her face when I pointed the camera, so I zoomed to her feet.  The bangles look natural on her:

And  gaudy on me:

Back at the ranch, dinners were chatty and cheerful:

And my baby turned 8:

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I survived the run.  It was  a hot day and my slowest race (1:57) – but I felt strong and that made all the difference on my knee.   I received sweet notes and support from many of you – Thank You!  Mumbai next….