June 2004
Lake's world
overseas travels

Hi everyone - I'm currently away travelling in India;
Here's some pictures & notes from my journeys.
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Lake - March 2004
March 2004

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I first came to India for a short holiday in September 2002. Initially scheduled for only 3½ weeks I ended up staying for 9 weeks which by local standards was still "too short".

That holiday encouraged me to come back and stay longer; so in March 2003 I packed up everything at home in Brisbane and headed off back to India.

Staying with a local family (see pics below), I am lucky enough to be immersed in 'real life' here and not just get the tourist experience - although I did make sure I visited the Taj of course (see pics below).

FYI: India has a very low rate of twinning - as with many Asian countries the twinning rate (for fraternal twins) is substantially lower than in Australia (unfortunately precise statistics for India seem impossible to find).

You can click on any of these links or just scroll down the page to see all the photos.
- Kali Farm - Taj Mahal - Visitors + new arrivals
- Traditions + Festivals - Indian Weddings - Flame visits Kali Farm
- Jammu city
- (+ some local animals)
- Srinagar
- Want to know more about India? check out these links
Click on any of the hundred or so photos below to open a larger version.

click here to open 2nd page of travel photos
(Sri Lanka holiday August 2004)

Kali Farm - my current home in India

I'm currently staying on a lovely farm in the very north of India. Approximately 15 kms from the city of Jammu in the state of J & K (Jammu & Kashmir) it is situated on the edge of the Tawi river (approximately 7 kms from the border with Pakistan).

Although J & K is considered a 'hot spot' for militant action, it is surprisingly peaceful (although there is occasional trouble and the area is occupied by a lot of army personnel, whom I make sure I don't photograph - for security reasons <wink>).

Jammu city is known as the "city of a thousand temples" and we even have a little temple at home on the farm (the first 'improvement' built by the family when they moved in; it was built using recycled garden-edging bricks).

Kali Farm House
Located on approx 2½ acres, the original house has had a second story (with extra bedrooms and bathroom) and huge water storage tank added on top. My bedroom is on the right hand side on the top stare.
Bathroom window glasspainting
Round window in upstairs bathroom has glass-painting design painted by me and beautiful trees in background - lovely view for daily bath/shower.
My Bed
My bed inside my purple bedroom - designed by me it was made by a local welding man at Nagrota village.

Jacaranda Tree
The jacaranda tree outside my bedroom and bougainvillea bush in background both in full flower.

Front Garden at Kali Farm
View of the garden out the front of the house (with the small temple or mandir in background).

Home temple
Our own little Hindu temple at Kali Farm. Only about four feet high it contains pictures of various gods including the goddess Kali after whom the farm is named.
Garden beds
Panoramic view of some garden beds planted with variety of vegetable and fruit trees.
Originally a chicken farm when it was purchased, this idea was quickly abandoned and now the farm tries only to be as self sufficient as possible. We grow a variety of vegetables, and grain crops, we also have some fruit trees and are currently trying to introduce passion-fruit vines (which can be seen growing on the bamboo archway-tunnel in pic on left). Having lived in Jammu city previously the move to Kali Farm has given the whole family a much improved lifestyle to city living - very reduced pollution, cooler climate beside Tawi river and more relaxed pace of life.
Wheat stooks
Checking out the 'stooks' of harvested wheat from the 2003 crop.
Wheat field
Our wheat turning golden brown just before the April 2004 harvest.

Tractor attachment for wheat
After harvest the wheat is 'threshed' by a tractor attachment which separates the seed from the stalks; the seed is ground into flour and the hay is used for cow feed.
Indian family
The whole Gupta family (from left) - Pappu, Neeru, Himani (Shveta's best friend), Shveta, Sudarshan and Manu.
family on the couch
The parents - Pappu, me and Neeru; Pappu previously ran a TV repair shop but now manages the farm; Neeru cares for everyone at home.
Shveta and Himani
Shveta and Himani dressed up in salwar kameez suits and dupattas for a party.
Sudarshan - the grandmother (Pappu's mother) on her birthday with pet dog, Walter in foreground.
girls on the couch
Me, Shveta (daughter) and Himani (her best friend) - 2002; The girls are both currently studying/working in computer animation down in Delhi.
Girls after swimming in Tawi river
All the girls after swimming in the Tawi river which flows directly past the farm. My board-shorts and singlet style swimming top are considered pretty racy by local standards. Mostly local people don't swim at all (very different from Australia) and if they do it's wearing a full salwar kameez suit.
Dain and I in Chandigar
Dain and I dressed up for dinner at hotel in Chandigar city -
October 2002.
Mum and I on the tanki top
Felicity (my mum) and I on top of the water tank (called 'tanki') at home on Kali Farm; three stories up it has fantastic views as well as providing good water pressure for the house.
Felicity and I at wedding party
Felicity and I together at wedding party - 2003; Indian weddings are pretty big and important events (refer Indian Weddings).
Rajan, Preeti, Lokesh and  Lakshmi
Rajan and his daughter Preeti (left) and Lokesh and his daughter Lakshmi (right) at Diwali festival - 2002.
We have two families of workers who live on the farm with us and do most of the outside work required. They are Rajan and his wife, Janaki (with their youngest daughter, Preeti) and Lokesh and his wife, Raatna (also with their youngest daughter, Lakshmi). Both daughters now go to school nearby and Preeti is usually top of her class!

Janaki and her youngest daughter, Preeti (with our pet dog Walter in foreground).

Two of our farm workers - Rajan and his wife, Janaki with their youngest daughter, Preeti; all dressed up to celebrate Preeti topping her class at school again - 2004.
Lokesh and Raatna
Our other two farm workers - Lokesh and his wife, Raatna.

Traditions and Festivals

Local traditional dress for women in J&K (and much of north India) is the salwar kameez suit with matching dupatta; the salwar is the trousers, kameez is the long tunic (split up the sides for ease of movement), and a dupatta is a 2 metre long scarf or veil which is worn around the shoulders (or draped over the head and face depending on modesty required by the circumstances). Alternatively some Indian women wear saris (which are usually 5 metres in length and require some talent at folding and arranging) with a small, close-fitting sari blouse - called a choli - underneath.

Lake in Chandigar
Trying on a fancy salwar kameez suit and dupatta in Chandigar city (for proper modesty they are usually worn with short sleeves to cover the shoulders also) - October 2002.
Having my hands stained with mehendi
Having my hands stained with mehendi; the design is drawn on with henna paste (which stays on for about 4 hrs) and the result lasts for about 10 days.
Mehendi design on hands
Drawn on 'free-hand' by mehendi artists, it is traditionally done for brides on both their hands and feet; it is also done for some special festivals.
Lake in local dress
All dressed up local style (in a salwar kameez suit & dupatta) to attend a daytime wedding function - May 2003.
Shveta and Manu
Shveta and Manu during Rakhshabandan (brother/sister festival) which is held twice each year.
Felicity  and Pappu
Felicity tying a rakhi on Pappu during Rakhshabandan festival. This cord bracelet is a symbol of close sister/brother type relationships. The rakhi is worn until it falls off.
MM Temple
Visiting at the Mohmaya temple; garlands of marigolds are purchased and draped on the deity's statue inside the temple when you ask for a favour. This temple is famous for pregnancies, and miraculous recovery from fatal illness!
Selection of fireworks (pataaka) for Diwali (the festival of lights); it's a bit like Christmas crossed with New Year. Everyone lets off fireworks that night which makes for a lot of air pollution (especially in big cities like Delhi) but fireworks are soooo much fun!
Holi celebration
Covered with coloured powders made from flower petals during the Holi celebration (festival of colours) - March 2004.

Jammu city
and some of the local animals

Jammu has a population approx of 300,000 and is the winter capital of the state of J&K (Jammu and Kashmir; Srinagar is the summer capital). Kali Farm is only about 15kms from the city and we regularly go in to town for shopping and supplies or to visit relatives, etc.

Some parts of the city are too narrow for cars (like much of India) and can only be accessed by auto-rickshaw, motorbike or on foot. There are still horses pulling wooden carts and quite a lot of 'builders' ponies' who carry sand, building materials etc on sacks across their backs.

Some of the animals that you won't usually see in Brisbane are quite normal here:
cows are the most commonplace, all over the road, they are sacred to the Hindu people and are allowed to roam free around the cities; they are protected by anti-cow-killing laws. Many Indians are strict vegetarian (including no egg) and if meat is served it is mostly mutton or chicken.

Monkeys are also quite common about the roadside (especially on the edge of town and at the temples); they usually expect some offering and you can buy gram (dried pulse) to scatter for them. Occasionally you'll even come across a camel or two wandering the streets (although mostly they are accompanied by their owners). Out at Kali farm we also often see buffalo being herded down to the river for an afternoon swim and buffalo milk is even available to buy in the market.

Jammu city skyline
The skyline of Jammu city. Very different in building style to Australia, most homes are made from bricks covered in concrete. Houses are built with flat roofs often with the steel reinforcing rods still sticking up from the walls for future extension as the family expands.
Street scape
Street scape of a shopping bazaar in Jammu. A busy, 'crowdy' place this street bazaar is more westernised than most markets (i.e. many shops have glass front windows and some even have A/C).
Actually taken in Delhi this pic shows auto-rickshaws; these little three wheeler vehicles are semi-covered and very convenient to get around small distances (more than 30 mins gets a bit uncomfortable though). In Delhi the government has recently forced them to switch to CNG (from two-stroke) which has vastly improved the general air quality.
At Mohmaya temple you can buy gram (dried pulse) to feed the monkeys that always hang out there.
Baby monkeys at Mohmaya temple
More monkeys (including babies) at Mohmaya temple near Jammu city.
Street cow and monkeys
Street cow and monkeys at Mohmaya temple carpark. Drivers have to be very careful to avoid the many animals (particularly cows) that lounge around on the road.
Horse drawn cart
You can still see a small number of horse drawn carts (tongas) getting about the city.
Me with a baby goat (or bukra in Hindi) who belongs to one of the local villagers.
Water buffalo in the river
Water buffalo taking an afternoon swim in the Tawi River alongside Kali Farm.
On the road into town (only a few kms from home) I came across two unaccompanied camels ('oonth' in the local language)..........
two camels
..........who were very camera shy and even changed direction and headed off the way they had just come to get away from having their photo taken - October 2002.

Camel in the traffic
Here's another camel strolling about in traffic on the edge of Jammu city - 2004.

The Taj Mahal

On my first trip over (September-November 2002) I visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal - an absolutely must see attraction!

Completed in 1653, the building was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his second wife - Mumtaz Mahal (who died in childbirth in 1631).

The building itself is truly magnificent and the intricacies of the architectural designing is astounding. E.g. the minarets are all angled leaning out 5 degrees so that, in case of earthquake etc, they won't fall on the main building. The inscriptions from the Koran inlaid around the main doors are minutely enlarged as they rise up the building so the altered perspective is that the lettering appears to be the same size all the way up despite being over 30 foot tall. Totally awe-inspiring!

Taj main gate
The main entrance gate (with reflecting pool and garden in foreground) at the Taj Mahal, Agra - November 2002.

Taj in the distance
Sitting on the Presidents' seat (formerly known as the lovers' seat) at the Taj Mahal, Agra - November 2002.
Taj closer up
Closer view of the Taj Mahal (still seated on the Presidents' seat) at Agra - November 2002.
Taj inlay
Close up of the inlay of precious stones on the Taj Mahal exterior. Materials for the inlay, such as jade, lapis lazuli and carnelian, came from all over the world.

Carving on exterior of Taj
Some of the fine relief carving work on the exterior of Taj Mahal.

Writing from Koran around Taj doorway
Passage of Arabic writing from the Koran inlaid around one of the Taj doorways.
Outside Taj main entrance gate
Outside the main entrance gate (built of red sandstone) at the Taj with Flame - April 2004.
Flame and I at Taj
Flame and I sitting on the Presidents' seat at the Taj - April 2004.
Flame and Lake at the Taj
Flame and I together at the Taj - April 2004.

Indian weddings

Indian weddings are very big events; often lasting 4-5 days and involving numerous ceremonies and the gathering of hundreds of family members from near and far.

At this top wedding we were guests of the groom and attended with the bharaat. This is a welcoming ceremony where the groom (and his family and friends) is greeted by the bride's party. The groom arrives riding a white horse and accompanied by a small (but very noisy) brass band.

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Wedding shot
The groom, myself and Himani at a Sikh wedding in Jammu, J&K, India - May 2003.
The bharaat (groom's party) arriving at the reception hall for the wedding - May 2003.
Shveta, the groom and bride, Himani
Shveta, the groom and bride and Himani as the event winds down - May 2003
Dressed up for wedding party
Sudarshan, myself and Dain all dressed up local style for the night time wedding party of our friend, Sukriti's cousin - Oct 2002.
Groom, Bride and Sukriti
At the night-time wedding event - the groom, the bride and (my friend) Sukriti - Oct 2002; it is usual for the bride and groom to sit in throne like chairs while all the friends and relative have photos taken with them, garland them and wish them well.
bride and her cousin-in-law
Also during this night wedding party; the bride and her cousin in-law (my friend Sukriti) - Oct 2002. After a long day the bride is escorted to the main tent to eat.
Dressed up for wedding party
Neeru, Dain, myself and Manu setting off for night time wedding party - Oct 2002.

At a family wedding - the groom and bride; the groom is wearing lots of garlands made from rupee notes, as is custom here - 2003.
Lovely, Neeru  and Nisha
Neeru (centre) and her sister, Lovely (left) and sister-in-law Nisha (right) at the same family wedding - 2003.

Sri Lanka
(formerly Ceylon)

Sri Lankan flag

In July 2003 I made a trip to Sri Lanka (to renew my Indian tourist visa for another six months). It's a truly beautiful country and being 85% Buddhist, it was quite different from India. Staying mainly in the hill country near the tea plantations in Kandy (Sri Lanka's 2nd largest city) I had views across the man-made lake in the centre of the city to the Temple of the Tooth (said to contain the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha). The temple roof is coated with real gold which catches the sun in a fabulous way glinting across the valley.

 Kandy panorama
The full panoramic view from the Castle Hill Guest House where I was staying while in Kandy - July 2003.
in the garden
Drinking chai (tea) in the garden at Castle Hill Guest House (the Temple of the Tooth in the distance) - July 2003.
Temple of the Tooth
Closer view of the Temple of the Tooth (the small gold roof seen across the man-made lake) - July 2003.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
While in Kandy I visited the nearby Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (about an hours drive from Kandy) where about 60 orphaned or injured elephants live. They were just sooooooooo amazing - it was a totally fantastic day. We even happened across a couple of pet porcupines on the drive there.

A pair of pet porcupines we happened upon while driving to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage - July 2003.

single elephant
Single elephant walking towards me down on the river rocks - July 2003.
approx 35 elephants
Approximately 35 elephants all down at the river for 'bath time'. They spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon wading in the river.
Elephants argue over log for lunch
These two young elephants decided that, from all the available food for lunch, this was the only delicious log and kept trying to steal it from each other when the other one was distracted.
- pretty entertaining to watch.
elephants bathing
A mother elephant and two babies being washed by a mahout; 6 month old baby floating/swimming half submerged; 2 month old adopted orphan feeding while being scrubbed down with coconut husk brush - July 2003.

Elephant Conservation Links
(These links will take you to sites that are maintained by other individuals; twinsrealm.com should not be held responsible for the information contained on these external sites.)

Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sri Lanka)

Read about Pinnawala elephant orphanage at the Absolut Elephant

Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort
Before leaving Sri Lanka I went and spent a few days on the west coast at the Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort at Wadduwa. I indulged in a number of their treatments including an incredible looking flower bath.
Wadduwa beach
On the beach outside the Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort at Wadduwa, Sri Lanka - July 2003.
undisturbed flower bath
The flower bath before I got in; literally hundreds and hundreds of flowers (mainly frangipani and lotus) - July 2003.
in the flower bath
Me actually floating in the flower bath at the Ayurveda clinic - July 2003.

Visitors and New Arrivals

After a lovely trip to Sri Lanka it was time to head back to Kali Farm to greet new arrivals and welcome overseas visitors. I managed to miss the bulk of the monsoon season while I was away, as the rains began in Delhi the very same night I flew out to Sri Lanka. I was away for two weeks, while it rained every day in India and produced huge flooding throughout the country. The humidity during monsoon is pretty intense but you do get some pretty amazing storms which is cool.

Train travel
Heading home to Jammu on the Shalimar Express train; the overnight trip from Delhi takes approx 12-14 hours - July 2003.
My cousin Trinette comes from Bali for a short holiday at the farm - July 2003.
Trinette on rock
Trinette standing on a rock beside the Tawi River; the fence in background was washed away by flood only a few weeks later (see pic below).
Lake with Chantal again
Chantal (an old school friend) comes to visit me in Jammu on her way back from Europe - August 2003.
Lake with Chantal
Chantal about to leave and start the long journey back from the farm to Australia - August 2003.
Monsoon flooding next to well house
During early August the monsoon flooding nearly washed away our new well house; it did wash away our fence only moments after this pic was taken.

While I was away in Sri Lanka
there were a number of
births on the farm

July 10th
being the auspicious day.

First born - a female calf named Lakshmi (after the goddess of wealth and good fortune); she is the third calf from our beloved cow Ganga (who previously gave birth to two boys)and she will mature to become our second milking cow.

Second born - kittens to our pet cat Molly. Cats are very rare as pets in most of India (they're actually considered to be bad luck). I was hoping to catch a wild kitten, which is how my mum had come to have Molly, caught about 18 months before. But instead I now have a pair of home-bred, Kali Farm kittens who are just adorable.

Also on this very lucky day - water was struck in our new well. This was a major achievement which had been a ongoing ordeal with two previously unsuccessful attempts by three separate teams of well diggers (all digging by hand, I might add, as is the norm in India). So now thankfully, we are no longer reliant on 'the municipality' for clean drinking water (which is often only provided for an hour or so per day); a luxury we take for granted in Australia (along with 24 hr electricity or 'bijli' as it is called here).

new calf
Me attempting to get close to our nervous new calf Lakshmi, her getting ready to spring away at any second - July 2003.
calf up close
A close up shot of our new calf Lakshmi with the very lucky sign of Ganesh (the triangle) on her forehead - July 2003.
Long time resident, Ganga (Lakshmi's mother) provides most of the farm's milk requirements.
Molly and kittens
Molly and her two kittens; only ten days old (and premature so very tiny, only the size of a mouse when they were born) - July 2003.
Kittens with hand for scale
They were so, so tiny!
.... the pair of them compared to my hand (they're ten days old).
kittens standing
Just starting to walk - mainly stumbling about and falling over though.
kittens eating first meal
Their first meal; Tigger ate but Blizzard only sniffed the food and decided she'd stick with mother's milk a bit longer.
Blizzard climbing a log in the 'indoor garden' which I created for them to play in while they were too small to go outside.
Tigger lounging beside a rock in the 'indoor garden'.
Molly and kitten's first outing
Molly takes her kittens out to explore the outside world for the first time (with Felicity and me as emergency backup).

As anyone who knows me is aware - I love cats.....so I was soooooo pleased to have two kittens of my own and here's lots of pics of them......just because they are too cute!

I decided to name them Tigger - obviously because he's the tiger-striped one; and Blizzard - because she's so white but also has storm energy and can move like the wind!
Blizzard mailing Tigger
Blizzard deciding she'll need a bigger envelope to send Tigger anywhere (especially as there's no bubble wrapping in there yet).
kittens in cat tree
Tigger and Blizzard inside tube in homemade 'cat tree'; I built it from old bits of wood and plastic tubing, then covered it with pieces of Kashmiri felted rug for comfort.
close up of cat tree
Close up of kittens inside tube on cat tree; just enough room for two (when you're still very small anyway).
Blizzard the acrobat
Blizzard the acrobat (giving me a heart attack) by balancing herself over the first-floor railing outside my bedroom.
Tigger and Blizzard walking together
Tigger and Blizzard out walking together; Blizzard is so white that she is tricky to photograph as she reflects the flash too much.
Blizzard and Tigger laying together
Blizzard and Tigger lying together resting on my bed; aged eight months old - March, 2004.
Walter the white dog
Another long term family member, Walter is a 3 year old who belongs to Shveta (the daughter).
Kalu the black dog
Kalu ('Blacky' in Hindi) is only about 8 months old. He is a Bakerwalli breed who recently adopted us; as a puppy he was abandoned by his street-dog mother but found his way to our farm and claimed it as his new home.
Lake and Flame - Brisbane 2004
Flame and I catching up during a short trip back to Brisbane - February 2004.

Flame visits Kali Farm

In March 2004 Flame come to visit Kali Farm and stayed for a month's holiday. While she was here we took another trip to Agra for her to see the Taj Mahal as well (refer Taj pics above).

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Flame, Sukriti and Lake
Flame and I visiting with my friend Sukriti.
Lake and Flame wearing new Salwar, Kameeze suits
Lake and Flame dressed up in new salwar kameez suits & dupattas - March 2004.
Flame and folks at revolving restuarant
Dain, Flame and Felicity at the revolving restaurant - KC Plaza, Jammu.
Lake and Flame in Lake's bedroom
Me and Flame in my purple bedroom (with part of star window shape in background).
Sudarshan, Flame and Neeru
Sudarshan, Flame and Neeru saying farewell in Delhi before Flame's return to Australia - April 2004.
family farewelling Flame in Delhi
Most of the family in Delhi to farewell Flame on her return to Australia.

Srinagar, Kashmir

Unfortunately I haven't got up to see the famous house-boats on Dal Lake in Srinagar yet. During my first visit there were election polls in the area making it too dangerous to go and then winter hit suddenly making it very cold............so I haven't made it up there yet but hopefully I will soon and I can include some photos from that trip in my next travel update!

In the mean time, here are a couple of slightly grainy digi-cam shots mum took on Dal Lake when she first visited Srinagar back in 1997.

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Lotus on Dal Lake
Lotus on Dal Lake, Srinagar.
Houseboat on Dal Lake, Srinagar.
A shikara, the only way to get around on the lake.

Want to know more about India?

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Try these links for various information

These links will take you to sites that are maintained by other individuals; twinsrealm.com should not be held responsible for the information contained on these external sites.


You can email me directly in India via lake@twinsrealm.com

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