Monday, November 19, 2012

India # 35 Jaipur III: Observatory, Street People, Bad Samaritan

Jaipur III:  Observatory, Street People and the Bad Samaritan

Jai Singh II took a strong personal interest in science and hired some of the best in the region.  In addition to a city and a grand palace, he built an observatory which is today a World Heritage Site studied for its remarkable accuracy and design.  The observatory is laid out over about five acres.  It has several sun dials or measuring devices.  There are stations to locate the major heavenly bodies and each sign of the zodiac has its own station. Remember this is l728.  It also serves as something of a city park for families.

The image above is of a sun dial.  The large  middle piece casts a shadow on the curved section to the right.  It is accurate to within two seconds of modern verification.  The image below looks like a sculpture garden but is 12 separate stations, each devoted to tracking a sign of the zodiac for important astrological purposes.


 On my last day in Jaipur I went looking for turbans and kites, turbans because they are colorful and vary by tribe and region (which took visits to several shops), and kites because flying and completion is important all over the region (e.g. The Kite Runner) and I liked the looks of them.  The string is made of glass, the better to cut loose a competitor.  Kites begin at four cents apiece, then ten, then a whopping 30 cents.  I bought about 35 for $1.80.  A half mile of string is a dollar.  Kite season is later in the winter.

Kite man

Along the way I take a few last pictures of people on the streets.

Bicycles deliver massive loads.  This is a light one of, what else, fabric.

People making tie die fabrics in small pots on the street.
Indians love to have their pictures taken as long as you show them the image.  They are universally pleased.

This may be a holy man.  I know people gave him small change.

Going out on my search I saw a half-naked man sitting in the street, looking a little dazed.  Returning, he was asleep on the sidewalk, flies crawling over his feet.  I stepped around him and dreaded having to do so twice more when I had to retrace my steps.  I hurried along, glad to be headed to my hotel.

Only later did I realize how closely this resembles the story of the Good Samaritan.  I saw this man and hurried on.  I said to myself, I’m just a stranger here, I don’t speak the language, what would I do?  It really would have been hard to intervene. Isn’t that what travelers said of the man who was robbed before the Good Samaritan undertook his care?  Could I have found a way to wash his feet crawling with flies or do something?  It is my aversion that I remember. 

Here is a little beggar I met the next day in Agra.  Her mother, I saw later, was working nearby, another baby as the source of sympathy.  Giving away money than comes easy to us is the easy part. 


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