Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life
published by Ecco/Harper Collins, 2006
professor of molecular biology and public policy at Princeton University
The Silver Family Picture Album

India: the final segment of our journey

From December 17, 2000 until January 30, 2001, we traveled across India in the final segment of our family journey. Below are some representative photos from our last 6 weeks. We entered the country through Calcutta, traveled across the north and down to the south as you can see on this map.

Calcutta is the last city in India that still has human-pulled rickshaws acting as taxis. The rickshaw "drivers' run down streets in their bare feet ferrying passengers from one place to another. Nearly all Indian women, of all classes, wear brightly colored saris.

Varanasi is the holiest city in India. Hindus come from across the country to purify their soul by bathing in the water. They also wash their dishes, do their laundry, and drink from the water. If they are very lucky, their families will bring them here to die so that their bodies can be washed in the water and then cremated along the shore.

This woman is drinking from the holy river.

The rickshaw is the standard form of transportation across most of India. Here is Ari transporting Max and Rebecca. During our 8 month trip, Ari smiled his way into conductor's seats of rickshaws, trishaws, becaks, horse and buggies, ox carts, and even a 100 foot long ferry.

Here is the family in front of the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful building in the world, built as a memorial to the woman loved by a heartbroken king, over 400 years ago. Once again, a picture simply can't do justice to this amazing site. You can get a sense of its size by looking at the people on the platform in front of the building. How it can be so enormous and yet so delicate at the same time is a testament to those who designed and built it.

"Hello my friend. Would you like to buy these precious jewels?" Throughout the Third World, there are men like this one outside the Taj Mahal, trying to sell you

For hundreds of years, elephants have transported people up to the Amber Palace and back down.

This is the Palace of Winds in the Orange City of Jaipur. The king of the region (called a maharajah) built this building for all the wives in his harem to watch the parades on the main street below. Each wife had a different assigned window. The family is at street level in the front.

This is a view of Jodhpur, the Blue City, from the fort on the hill above. Hundreds of years ago, the residents of the city discovered that copper sulfate was a good deterrent against termites. Since that time, they have coated their walls with the mineral to protect their houses.

The northwest corner of India, near the border with Pakistan, is a vast, nearly empty desert. We hired a guide and some camels to take us on a trek into this remote land. During the middle of the day, the temperature soared into the high 90's, and there was no respite from the sun.

Some of the people we met at oasis's in the desert. The man is wearing a typical turban on his head. The woman, standing next to the wall of an ancient fort, is trying to sell us a necklace.

Red chili peppers are harvested at an oasis and laid out on the sand to dry

After a day's ride, we reached this magnificent sand dune where we stayed for the night. We laid a blanket out onto the sand, put a blanket over us and watched the stars move across the sky. The temperature dropped to near-freezing, and in the morning, we were all covered with a coat of sand.

A group of women at another oasis.

At one village, we were given the opportunity to dress in the clothes of the native people.

You can tell that this woman is the head matron of her tribe by the identifying nose ring. She is gathering scarce wood to start a fire to cook dinner for her family.

We were lucky to be in this desert town for their annual camel festival.

Once again, Ari smiled is way onto a form of transport.

Did this woman purposely match her clothes to the flowers that she was selling?

We traveled to the south of India. This photo was taken in the town of Mysore where the residents put yellow powder onto the white spots of all the holy cows (who wander the streets at their leisure).

Max is walking next to a group of ox in the ancient town of Hampi.

We spent a relaxing four days in Portuguese state of Goa (India didn't take control of this state until 1961). The ox cart in the photo is going past the signs indicating the various establishments in the beach town of Palolem. We stayed at the Cocohuts hotel advertised behind the oxen, which you can see in the photo below.

This is our "hotel" in Palolem. We stayed in the two bamboo huts on stilts numbered 6 and 7. Pigs, cows, dogs, and chickens roamed around and under our huts.

The last day before our journey's end, we took a wonderful trip down this inland river lined with palm trees.

That's all for now. All things must come to end and we're back in Princeton for a while. But it's pretty hard staying in one place for so long. If things get tough, we'll make our way into the real world again.

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