Tag Archives: Rajgir

13 What Goes Up Must Come Down

Kylie and Kathryn decided that they were walking down despite it being 1.45pm in the blazing sun. Mezz and I went for another ride. There were a few families launching about, in an orgy of post luncheon expectoration. The ground at our feet is full of lunch leftovers. There were some ingenious little biodegradable plates made of leaves usually used by street vendors. They should have stuck to those leaves. India is drowning in disposable plastics. The chairlifts would start up again at 2pm said the sign. Promptly, at 2.19pm, a commotion erupted. After much gesturing and shouting “one line, one line”, the attendant was peeved to see people form themselves in to 2 or 3 lines. The chairlifts began to move. 

Somehow we found ourselves at the end of the longest line as whole families of queue cutters blatantly shoved passed. It was quite entertaining to watch the boarding. This time the chairlifts appear to be moving even faster. Coming down is made more interesting as the margin for error decreases. If you can’t co-ordinate all your bits and pieces, or you are wearing an elaborate and fluttering sari, you could very well fall off the platform and go splat off the precipice.

I receive some looks of disapproval. Indian modesty requires that respectable females wear an additional sort of fabric across theirs bosoms, like the top part of the sari or the long dupatta (scarf) of the Salwar kameez (Punjabi Suit). LLBean travel pants, a Migros t-shirt and an IMD baseball cap appear to be beneath contempt. Respectable Indian women are appropriately dressed, groomed and accessorised. And they don’t walk; they swish, jingle and sway. As I later learnt, they also pluck, wax and peel with religious regularity. Personal appearance is regarded highly, notwithstanding the unwashed impoverished multitudes. It’s no wonder that the Goans despised the “freaks’ as the hippies who descended on the beaches of Goa were called. 

Soon it was our turn, and luckily it was without incident. We descended to the other 2 ladies behind surrounded by a bunch of curious Indian guys at the chai stall.

12 Engineering and Chair Lifts

Rajgir – Bamboo Forest Monastery was 100 acres of land accorded to the Buddha by the King Bimbisara of Rajgir in the 6th century B.C. It was the first Buddhist monastery. Budhha lived and taught there for 1 2 years. The site Vulture’s Peak was a favourite place where he enjoyed numerous sunsets. We visit the Japanese Peace Stupa on top of Ratnagiri Hill via the precarious chair lifts. They cost 25 rupees return. The stupa is not really that interesting unless you have never seen a Japanese stupa before. The view from the top is good on a clear day. The chairlifts, however, is an experience not to be missed. 

First, the elaborate contraption one had to go through to get to and from the chairlifts seemed pretty extreme.  It’s a cross between a waterwheel, a revolving door and some gates for sheep going to slaughter. Only one person could go through this contraption per revolution. And it takes about 10 or 12 seconds for each person. Then there’s the one second hesitation before stepping in. Soon a long line of people build up. We joke about the genius of Indian engineering thought who thought this up. 

At first glance the chair lifts were deceptively similar to those commonly found in the Swiss Alps. Stepping up to the platform, the adrenaline levels go up pretty quickly. In Switzerland, these contraptions slow down to a crawl on the long embarkation platform, pick up the passenger and then speeds off again. Not here. The chairlifts here move along at the same speed on a short platform. You step on to a marked spot with your knees bent and you bum sticking out. You clutch your bag / small child / lunch tightly. The chair comes and swoops you up from behind. In case you hesitate the attendant shoves you into it. At this point you retract all you limbs (and your bag / small child / lunch if any). In the next half second, another attendant drops the cross bar in front of you and you are jerked upwards.