Well. Iíve reached Delhi from Madras after a two day train journey. It was a great experience. Rolling through some great sweeps of country. Catching glimpses of town and village life. Seeing animals, such like storks, deer, peacocks, monkeys, a host of various birds, and even a cobra on a path.
I have just come back to Delhi from a visit to Agra and Gwalior. I found Agra, just like the last time, to be very dust and loaded with smog. Touts were everywhere and prices were steep. Still, the monuments are marvels of architecture. We used the Agra Cant. Retiring rooms and were besieged by ants in the night.
Gwalior was altogether different. It was simply fantastic. It is a little known place without all the tourist traps. It has some great forts, temples, palaces, and museums. There is a sound-&-light show at night up at the fort, with the clearest views over an Indian city that I have found in my 3 trips to the subcontinent. There is also a historic Sikh Gurdwara up on the heights. A number of good restaurants, pubs, and hotels are located in Gwalior, the latter being in the 450Rs. a night range with A/C. If you are looking for a side trip while in North India, head for Gwalior. The air is scented, the breezes pleasing, the dust less, and the people friendly. The whole experience was enhanced by our guide, Vijay Singh Chauhan, a Rajput who has been a guide for 15 years. His father was a local guide for some 44 years. We met Vijay at the train station and I assumed him to be just another tout. But his warm and honest nature quickly over came my reservations. He gave us a complete tour, which was smooth, informative, and solid, for only 1500Rs.. This included a taxi from 10am to 10pm, Vijayís services, a cultural program, the sound-&-light show, and a helpful junior guide. Ask at the station to contact him. His presence enhanced our wanderings, and Iím sure it will enhance yours.
Singapore still has a whiff of the old days of trade and piratical dealings. I love the place and have wandered throughout it, both alone and on organised walking tours. Itís blend of many different histories and cultures stirs the soul.
Chasing down the history and culture of the Sikh Rabab was an adventure that will always live in my heart as one of the best times of my life. I met so many great people and had so many wonderful times, that Iím still in a daze about it. Singapore, India, Thailand, Hong Kong. Brilliant! Thanks Chris ji for giving me such a chance.
Now Iím just back from spending the better part of a year helping Chris Mooney Singh ji with a community school and music revival program in India. It was great fun. An adventure I would not have missed for the world. I'm still very much involved as the web master for the Rabab Revival Program. (Rabab Revival Program).
The program involves a group of fellow Sikhs who are looking to revive ancient Indian musical traditions. This will involve historical research, the crafting of musical instruments, training in Indian musical traditions, learning instrument playing, supporting the Sikh youth, and the creation of an orchestra. We are also planning to export instruments throughout Southeast Asia and tour the orchestra.