Me feeding the rats at the Rat Temple, Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India. Somewhere to the west of Bikaner. Had to walk around barefoot as it is a Hindu temple and trod on enough ratshit to last a lifetime. No ill-effects however, and quite a spiritual experience. 20 or 21 February 2012. Here some of them crowd around two bowls of fresh milk, with yours truly looking down amazed.
Danish couple Jes (pronounced 'Yes' to my initial confusion) and Margrethe, who at that time were touring around Rajasthan, India, on their WW2-vintage Royal Enfield motorbike. They'd have to have been at least in their very late 60s, if not early 70s, and a good deal braver and more adventurous than many people I know half their age. Jes I think was actually marketing his own Royal Enfield motorcycle tours of India as a business. Mandawa, Rajasthan, India. Circa 16 or 17 February 2012.
My own painting (completed during a lesson) of an Indian elephant, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, 28 or 29 February Not bad for a couple of hours and especially since I generally failed Art in high school.
Myself and Cam Quinn (far right) with a mother and her kids from the tribal village near Ranakpur, southern Rajasthan, India. 25 February 2012. This was one of the few times we got to get 'up close and personal' with villagers in rural areas - how 70% of India lives. Felt like a bit of an interloper but it was good of her to let us in her home.
Yours truly admiring the hand-carved marble elephant at Ranakpur Jain Temple, constructed some time between 1446 and 1496 AD. 25 February 2012. Ranakpur, southern Rajasthan, India, in an area populated by a large number of Jains. I have to say, the Jains and Sikhs were the only ones I met in India, as a group, who were genuinely not out for your money (Jain monks and nuns are not permitted to receive or handle cash anyway, which probably explains it).
One of those classic 'what happened next?' photos, yours truly with a monkey in the hills above Jaipur, Rajasthan. 1 March 2012. Looking like a true idiot abroad with trademark Ray-Bans (knock-offs from a Delhi market). He didn't quite go for the jugular as some might have thought, just started eating out of my hand (literally).
Dinesh Mali (left) and his friend whose name I have forgotten, at a teahouse in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. 21 February 2012, our last night there before we headed for Jodhpur the next day. Nice bloke and was a local uni student. It's the people who made this trip worthwhile - beyond the Taj and a couple of other notable locations (Ranakpur Jain Temple being another), it's really the people I met who stick in my mind, not the places.
Bhupati the tour guide stokes the fire, Mandore Gardens Hotel, Jodhpur. Guessing this was 22 February I remember this place as having wifi but lost its connection to the outside network, so I did 'dry time' while in Jodhpur. First world problem.
Inside detail of the Taj Mahal, the actual resting place of Mumtaz Begum (Arjumand Banu), who died at age 36, giving birth to her fourteenth child and prompting her gutted, grief-stricken husband Shah Jehan to build the Taj (named after her nickname 'Taj', short for Mumtaz) in the 1640s. Not meant to take photos inside but I did anyway. Agra, 3 March 2012.
Balinese Hindu shrine on the grounds of the Hotel Padma Legian, Legian, Bali, Indonesia. 11 June You don't have to go far to see temples in Bali - almost every hotel, restaurant and public office has a small shrine.