Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jharkhand jolly

Ranchi, as expected, is nothing to write home about but Jharkhand, of which it is the capital, was really beautiful. The scenery is quite different from where I am living - wide open spaces, lakes, pretty waterfalls etc. You also saw people riding on the tops of the buses which you don’t get down our way – probably because the roads are so bumpy they’d bounce off. The VSO team in Ranchi treated us to a two-day tour of the area prior to the conference and I started to feel like a tourist again which I really enjoyed. We climbed down to a spectacular waterfall and, as I huffed and puffed my way back up, I made a mental note to try to do a little more exercise. The night was spent in a convent and, on arrival, we watched some carol singers set off on their rounds. Everyone was wearing woolly hats and scarves but there the similarity ended – tuneful Indian ditties were sung but nothing that remotely resembled Away in a Manger. We had supper round a camp-fire - the feathers from our recently-slaughtered meat course wafting round our heads - and then we joined in some tribal dancing. It was quite easy to follow but it went on for hours. As I whirled my way round in a never-ending circle, each arm firmly grasped by my neighbours, I realised that ducking out wasn’t going to be an option but also that I didn’t need to go jogging to keep myself fit, I just needed to be a tourist a little more often – much more fun. The next day we visited a rehabilitation centre for trafficked children who put on a show for us. It was all rather sweet and uplifting until you remembered why they were there in the first place and that the toddlers amongst them were the result of systematic rape by their mothers’ former “employers”. We ended the tour with drinks on the roof-top of our hotel in Ranchi after which I re-acquainted myself with the delights of a shower that delivers hot water. Whilst, I wouldn’t put Jharkhand amongst my top-10 places to visit in India, in its own unassuming way it was rather charming. Click here to see where Ranchi is. Click here to see more pictures

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