Monday, December 24, 2018

Udaipur ... and the long road home

At the Jaiwana Haveli I have upgraded to a ‘corner room’ which gives the best lake views, but on arrival we are shown to a different room. It’s a large refurbished room in a more modern wing of the hotel, but as it is twice the size and with better facilities than the ‘corner room’, we are satisfied. Udaipur is very touristed, and this is reflected in the more professional management of the accommodation. And also in the large numbers of western tourists, tourist shops and tuktuks surrounding our hotel. But at night it is quieter than Ghanerao!

We are situated at Lal Ghat, one of many ghats (bathing places) around Lake Pichola. Seeing local residents bathe and wash at these places is a common sight. Each ghat has a small temple, and the adjoining waters may be considered sacred.

We eat most nights at the rooftop restaurant at Jaiwana - it’s good, not expensive, and a lovely location, and we get to have breakfast there too. One night we walk over (just a minute or two away) to Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, which has a classy restaurant (also a gorgeous hotel, but lake view rooms a bit too pricy for us). The location is unbeatable, but we are disappointed with the food, the tandoori platters (veg and non-veg) are rather boring and dry, and the extensive drinks menu is expensive. A special mention to Millets of Mewar, a healthy food restaurant, where we have the best cardamom lassi and organic peanut butter cookies.

Jaiwana Haveli - view from restaurant terrace
Breakfast table
Dawn view from 'deluxe' room
Bathing at Ambrai Ghat
While the tuktuk drivers have their own ideas about where we might like to drive to during our visit, we are determined to stay around the town and walk. I decide I’d like to get out of the tourist area and we walk up to Hathipole market, a couple of km away. There are few tourists, but it is very busy and dirty, and as everywhere in towns, difficult to walk with the amount of traffic, hooting motorcycles, dust and rubbish. After walking around for some time before finally finding a working ATM, Chris has had enough. But before we head back to Lal Ghat we get a tuktuk to drop us at the wine shop.  I ask for desi daru, a cheap, locally produced liquor, but am told that it’s 'only available in the lower shops’, so we stick with Indian blended 'scotch' whisky, which is not bad. An elephant ambles by - the one and only we have seen in our trip.

I do not do much shopping here, it’s just too touristy to be comfortable. But we do find a nice dusty-old-shop (DOS) just around the corner. An amazing collection of bric a brac and sculptures, quite highly priced, but I do finally find a few cheaper items: an old boteh (paisley) printing block and two amulets. I chat to the shop owner about art and photography and technology, apologise for not spending more, and tell him that I will send custom his way, but he has no business card! (I think this is the place).

I also want to check out the government craft shop just out of the city centre. I have tried these shops before, and they tend to be in out of the way places, with good fixed prices, but a poor range of stock. I admit it’s the fixed prices that are attractive to me, I hate more and more all the haggling with shopkeepers in the tourist shops. But the ceramics here are poor quality, the textiles just a bit better, and I pick up some rustic patchwork cushion covers. The back room has miniature paintings, which seem to be the usual rather kitschy stuff, produced for tourists. But I see an older,  slightly scruffy painting pinned to the wall - in spite of the condition the quality of painting is a cut above, and the price is ok ($28). I find out later that the artist, Tilak Gitai, is a prolific and much lauded painter of miniatures from Jaipur.

Tilak Gatai miniature painting
Bathing at the ghat 2
So … we ‘do’ the following -
City Palace - truly spectacular, but crowded with tour groups. Is it racist of me to say that the French groups are particularly annoying? Yes, I guess it is.
Bagore-ki-Haveli - a charming museum in a restored old house, that also hosts dance/puppet performances in the evening. Fun, but not a patch on Balinese performances we saw earlier in the year. There is definitely an opportunity in Rajasthan to manage regular folk dance performances in historic locations, it would be well supported as dance is so popular here.
Lok Kala Mandal - a very dusty, crusty old folk museum outside the old city, that has a good puppet and dance show in the evening. It's so retro, nothing seems to have changed since it opened in 1952.
Ahar Royal cenotaphs, also a bit out of town, a marvellous, slightly unkempt cremation ground full of old monuments to maharajahs and maharanis. Sadly the nearby museum was closed, due to renovation or something …
Jagdish Temple - a wonderful temple in old city centre with multiple daily ceremonies, gorgeous carvings, very welcoming, but no photos inside :(

Crowds at City Palace
Folk dance at Bagore-ki-Haveli
Mirrored apartment at City Palace museum
Dancers at Lok Kala Mandal
Ahar royal cenotaphs
Carving at Jagdish Temple
On the whole, Udaipur is still a really lovely place with its lakes, parks and palaces. Yes, tourists are a pest, but I console myself that we bring in the means to keep the cultural beauty going. And walk down any side street in the old city - the tourists are gone and it is just local neighbourhoods with cows and donkeys and chickens - lovely. Sadly, like elsewhere in India, motorised traffic, particularly motorcycles, is taking over and this makes walking no pleasure.

Back to Delhi …

I have booked an overnight train back to Delhi, 3rd class AC sleeper (2nd class all booked out). It turns out that our carriage is booked out by a school excursion group, so our compartment is full of giggling teenage girls. The teachers do the rounds: ‘Now don’t you disturb sir and madam!’. The girls chorus, ‘No, it is fine, they are our friends!’ It is true, they are very friendly and lovely and solicitous of our comfort, helping us to make beds when we are tired.

I have an idea that when we get back to Delhi we will have breakfast at Nizamuddin Station cafeteria, then stroll slowly to our guest house, about a 20 minute walk away. But when we arrive, it is chaos! I never saw so many people, tuktuks, cars … Chris, who is feeling unwell, says - Please let's get a taxi - but the traffic is in gridlock, so we walk a little way to extricate ourselves, then hail a tuktuk. He drives straight back into the bedlam! Oh well, we think - he knows the way - it’s just a 5 minute drive. Actually no, he doesn’t know the way, and stops multiple times to ask bystanders, one of whom says ‘A-block? that’s not Nizamuddin E, it’s Nizamuddin W’. That is so wrong! I whip out Google Maps and start directing, and we finally get there.

It must be the food I picked up at Udaipur station that’s brought Chris down with a tummy bug - damn! I leave him for the day and check out the National Craft Museum - stunning collections of carvings, ceramics and especially textiles - except there’s a power cut that means several galleries are barely viewable - very India. And do a bit more shopping - the Craft Museum Shop (where shopping is by the light of mobile phones!); Sunder Nagar - lovely but pricy antique shops; Khan Market for Fabindia and Anokhi (again). Mainly pick up some wood block printed fabrics, really a favourite thing  - a curtain, a tablecloth, a bedspread - somehow they are better value than buying by the metre).

Next day - Chris feeling somewhat better and dosed up - we head to the airport for the direct flight home, an advantage of flying Air India. But we also experience one of the disadvantages - our entertainment system AND reading light are not functioning. We take a sleeping pill and plan to snooze the flight away, until, at 2am Sydney time, we are woken for a meal. Oh, the joys of long-distance flying!

Wood block printed fabric
My favourite Anokhi dress
What was the most memorable part of our trip? India is a mess of contradictions, and is certainly challenging as well as fascinating:

Terrible amounts of rubbish and pollution, and an atmosphere choked with dust in a drought year, but breathtaking beauty of some of the landscapes and historic buildings.
Awful ugliness in the evident poverty, and the (oh too familiar) greed and entitlement of the richest in society, but beauty everywhere in everyday life, including the floral tributes of temple offerings and the startling multihued saris of the most humble road-workers and sweepers.
Great respect and even veneration for animals, and a preponderance of vegetarianism, but the condition of many roaming cows and dogs is sad, and the treatment of domestic animals seems cruel by our standards.
Some of the highlights have been staying in characterful heritage properties in small villages, where tourists are still a novelty, and we get to have a glimpse of real village life.

But everywhere we went:

The PEOPLE ...

Nowhere would you meet more welcoming, kind and curious people. After two minutes of conversation you are asked for intimate details of your life:
How old are you? How many children? Are they married? Why do you look so young? (My ‘blonde’ hair! One of the schoolgirls on the train says - You are so pretty! just like Barbie!).
There is so much deprivation and poverty, but we never perceive resentment, and we are welcomed everywhere. One expects, being a British colony for so long, that English would be widely spoken, but not so, even staff at tourist accommodations. There are many difficult and tortured conversations, we knowing no Hindi, and they no English, but the attempt at conversation is always there. There are frequent invitations to come home for tea, or a meal - though we don’t follow these up. It seems strange that just as we see Indians as exotic people, they also see us that way, and are fascinated, and love to photograph us.

Friendly locals in Ghanerao
Ganesha and Hindu bling!

and the PROBLEMS

The Hindu religion seems such fun with the bling, the festivals, the dancing - the most sacred colour is pink, for goodness sake! But still, it is complicit in social oppression via the caste system, and terrible discrimination and sexual violence against women. And there is the impression of a society that, while a democracy, is in some ways quite dysfunctional with endemic corruption in politics and public service. How will they ever solve emerging and critical issues such as pollution and traffic congestion? (The population is expected to outstrip China in just a few years, and over 50% of the population is under 25 years old.) The living conditions that most Indians, but especially the poorest, must endure is unimaginable for us.

People ask me - why travel in India when it is so physically and mentally challenging? I say - that is exactly why.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ghanerao and beyond ...

At last we are in Ghanerao - and the Royal Castle is not quite as ‘royal’ as I anticipated, but is quaint and charmingly ramshackle. After being shown a large but slightly gloomy room, we select a tiny eyrie on the top floor - small bedroom, gigantic bathroom, and multiple views and terraces among the birds.  After relatively busy Jodhpur, we are looking forward to another good chill-out, punctuated by village walks. But on the first evening - pomegranate cocktails on the terrace, and another multi-dish dinner that does us in.
On the terrace, Ghanerao Royal Castle
Our huge bathroom!
Our tiny eyrie
Sitting area, Ghanerao Royal Castle
Ghanerao is a sizeable and relatively well-to-do looking village, and there are some historical structures that we would like to check out, including step-wells and a cemetery with cenotaphs in the form of chaatri. First, I have to seek out a small shoe stall that we spotted while driving through the village. It is being run by two young girls, who have no English, but finally manage to tell me that a pair of slippers will be 700rp ($14). I assume this is tourist price, but it seems reasonable. The slippers are stiff, embroidered but slightly smelly camel leather. The girls pull down almost every pair, but it’s difficult to find ones that fit! Especially as they are designed without left and right foot - the idea is that they will wear to the shape of your feet. A crowd gathers, and there is a good laugh every time I try a new pair. Finally I do purchase some, and decide that even if they never do quite wear in, it is worth it for the shopping experience.

We wander on and find a quite impressive step-well,  very depleted of water. It seems that these are not generally now in use, although it may be different after the monsoon. We see most water collected from street pumps, and we gather much of this is artesian (certainly the water in Ghanerao is the hardest we have encountered - I don’t dare to wash my hair!). Rajasthan has had a very poor monsoon this year and most places are in serious drought - Chris still has a cough from Diwali in Delhi, exacerbated by the dust everywhere. But Ghanerao no longer feels like desert country - it is surrounded by hills and jungle, and things seem a little damper and greener.

We have been told that today is a Muslim festival day, and we have seen decorations along some of the main street. At one spot that is beautifully decorated with hanging marigold garlands, a cow casually munches on the flowers. A woman emerges beating with a stick and yelling. ‘Get out, you mangy beast!’, or something of the sort. Muslims, we guess, don’t have to be nice to the holy cows. As we walk on we hear loud music approaching - it’s a parade! Men come first, then the reigning dignitaries on decorated vehicles, followed by women and children, all dressed in their finest, and some of the girls plastered in make-up. It’s colourful, lively and VERY loud.

Buying slippers, Ghanerao
Muslim festival, Ghanerao
Muslim festival, Ghanerao
Ghanerao has some upmarket neighbourhoods, but no shortage of crumbling old houses, wall paintings, doors and gates. The whole place is a palimpsest, and we happily wander taking photos and videos, and stopping for the occasional ’selfie’ with locals (their selfie, not ours).

At sunset, for atmosphere, and coolness, the chaatri park, which is weedy, neglected and atmospheric.
After the usual cocktails and dinner in the gorgeous dining pavilion (the set menu dinner is, as it has been in other heritage stays, fresh, authentic and delicious), we are ready as usual for an early night. But Ghanerao has a plethora of temples which seem to vie with each other for the loudest (amplified) devotional music each evening. For a little village it’s a noisy place! We have to keep the windows closed in order to sleep.

On the final day, an interesting walk with manager Kamal through a nearby tribal farming village where we visit farming families, and the school. He tells us on the way about his own background - educated village boy, went to university, has worked in upmarket hotels, but is in Ghanerao because it’s close to his home village. He doesn’t like working with the non-professional staff there! We think we know who he is talking about. It’s fascinating, but feels voyeuristic, to be traipsing around through homes in this village, so we take few photos and videos. People are very welcoming, but it does feel intrusive. Kamal waxes long about the clean and lovely lifestyle here, but we see quite extreme poverty and very hard work. We are told that no payment is made to the villagers for their hospitality, so we make a donation of exercise books and pencils to the village school, to appease our conscience.
Crumbling old wall - palimpsest
Ghanerao girls

Cenotaphs, Ghanerao
Tribal village farmer with garden

Her kitchen - mud floor, grinding stone, clay stove

The scenic route ...

The drive to Udaipur is with our Ghanerao driver Tara, via Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh. On the map it is just a hop and skip between these places, by road, as usual, a different story: it will be an all day drive. It's a mountainous area and the route is circuitous and very picturesque, so different from the flat desert landscape in northern Rajasthan.

Ranakpur has an important Jain Temple, reportedly one of the richest in India, and it is certainly an impressive carved white marble edifice that looks like it’s made of icing sugar for a wedding of giants. As soon as we arrive, and I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of marble carving, I realise I’ve actually been here before! My previous six-day trip to Rajasthan was so packed I had forgotten about this stop. There is constant pilgrimage to this very active temple, in the morning it is open only to pilgrims, and this afternoon it is busy with tour groups, including many westerners. But on our way out, we visit the ‘old temple’ in the complex, and there is ceremony happening there too, with not a tourist in site. The bevy of pilgrims who emerge after the ceremony are happy to be videoed and insist we join in their group photos. God these people are friendly!

Chris in Jain temple - like marble wedding cake
Friendly pilgrims at Ranakpur

Kumbhalgarh Fort is extolled by LP as ‘fantastic and remote’, but it is bustling with Indian family groups, and the whole area is in a state of development of large hotels and resorts. Tara explains that it is very popular with middle-class Gujarati families and businessmen, as it is not far away and they can drink alcohol - hadn’t realised that Gujarat is a ‘dry’ state. I love to see that these historical sites are so popular with indigenous tourists, but at the ticket box it’s clear why - entry is 40RP (80c) for locals, 600RP ($12) for foreigners.

At the Fort, I am in trouble - Chris does not appreciate the steep climb to the top. It’s mostly pretty rustic, and is certainly atmospheric with some great vantage points for views over the countryside, and has a fascinating history, although there is not much on-site information. There are dozens of temples, dating from 2nd C BC, in the Fort enclosure (the external wall of which is exceeded in length only by the Great Wall of China), but just a few are visible in the immediate grounds. Walking to the top and back again, we are constantly accosted by tourist seeking selfies. While it feels friendly to accede, I finally have to say no, it’s just too much! This would be a nice place to visit early in the morning, with time to spare for exploration.

In Udaipur at last, right on sunset, and it’s the usual gridlock in the old city. Don’t worry, we tell Tara, we’ll walk from here - but even that is a challenge with our wheelie bags!

Mountain scenery 
View from Kumbahalgarh

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chandelao and Jodhpur, weddings and animals

See the whole Photo gallery here.
I have reluctantly given up on the idea of bus transport, so it is another car to Chandelao - the smallest village yet - where another old fort, Chandelao Garh, is refurbished for accommodation. There is no AC in the van, and what looks like a 1.5 hr drive is actually 3 hours, an experience that’s becoming familiar. Again the driver doesn’t trust Google maps, but prefers to rely on directions from locals - usually (but not always) a safer bet. Bumpy road, minimal signage - just as we think we are lost, we are there. The ‘deluxe’ and ‘super-deluxe’ rooms turn out to be actually a bit crusty, and ours is a bit lacking in furnishing - no desk, sofa, bedside table, clothes hangers or towels. But it is spacious with hand-painted decoration and woodblock prints, and is tolerably close to the wifi spot. We ask for some of those extra items, and all is good.

We haven’t planned to go out, but there is some VERY loud music emanating from the nearby village, so Chris is out hunting for dancers to star in his movies. Jackpot: the nearby house that is broadcasting the music is populated by dancing girls who beckon us inside - it seems that they are are practising for an upcoming wedding. They are very happy to be videoed by Chris, and urge me to join them, but after the Bagar experience I am happy to play demure today, as befits my mature status.

Dinner, which was planned to be under the stars on the terrace is moved to the subterranean dining room - apparently there are too many guests. It’s a nice room, but I’m a bit sad not to be eating outside - it’s a beautiful evening. In spite of the buffet style, the food is very good - fresh, homestyle curries - if a little lacking in chilli. The English couple next to us say - Yes, it’s quite nice, glad it’s not any spicier - so that is what they have to cater for!

Sunder Rang craft ladies
Chandelao girl - she chased me to be in my photo!
Chandelao parrots by the pool

The plan is to chill out here, so we have no outings planned, although we have heard that there may be more wedding dancing tonight. We walk in the village, I catch up on journal and photos, we read and nap and have a swim in the pool, where there is a bare tree full of green parrots - gorgeous. I also wander over to Sunder Rang, a women’s art collective next door, which is affiliated with Chandelao Garh - I settle on a khurta with a quirky bird print and a colourful string of red stuffed birds for a xmas decoration.

I’m beginning to like the ramshackle nature of this quirky place, and love the feeling that we are contributing to the maintenance of a heritage building that may otherwise crumble, as so many others have. And we are able to see a village community that without tourist facilities would otherwise be inaccessible to us. Tonight we take drinks to the (ramshackle) terrace, which has (quirky) glass-topped tables with tree root bases. Dinner again underground, as another large group (cyclists!) has arrived. It’s good to see that this place is thriving, at least in the cooler months.

After dinner we follow the sound of music to the wedding house, which is behind the one we visited earlier. The music is loud, but it’s a small and intimate family party, and while they are happy to see us, we feel that we are intruding and don’t stay long. No dancing tonight.

Our room, opening on to the lower terrace
Ramshackle upper terrace - with Kingfisher beer
Chandelao Garh main building
Chandelao village, sunset


A car is ordered, the bill is paid, and we make the short one-hour hop to Jodhpur, the Blue City. We have to take a tuktuk to our guest house in Navkichoya, deep in the old city, but just a five minute walk to the Fateh Pol gate of Mehrangarh Fort. This afternoon we rest again, Chris still feeling unwell, and just take a short local walk at dusk. Lovely crumbling, or restored and painted, old houses. The blue everywhere (and green, mauve, orange). And everywhere the rubbish - sadly, it stinks. Dinner is at the rooftop restaurant of our guest house - lovely outlook (above the street smell), food just ok.

We arrange an early morning Blue City walk with Avi, our guest house host (deputy manager?). It is cool and lovely and at least some of the rubbish is being cleared. Avi has close connections to the neighbourhood and is involved in a small private charity to assist the community. So it is not surprising that his tour has a social justice tinge. He speaks disgustedly of local public servants and politicians who are happy to take a salary and do nothing, and he shows us the crumbling ruin of the local public school where, he claims, teachers are paid to teach, but no teaching happens and no-one ever checks. ‘You should be in politics’, I say. 'Then I would have to become a politician!’, says Avi. He shows us and talks of the heritage and history and community of the neighbourhood, and we don’t go near any markets or shops or the commercial centre of the city. This would not please everyone, but I like it.

Jodhpur rubbish
Mehrangarh Fort at dawn, from our room 
Blue blue city
Siesta during the warm afternoon, then a twilight shopping trip. The market area is the usual mad maze, so I pinpoint a couple of shops and rely on Google Maps - surprisingly accurate in this labyrinth. Sambhali is a charity craft collective for textile-based goods, but it turns out to be tiny with a modest collection of wares, I buy only a rather overpriced printed cotton scarf. The next, Maharani Art Exporters, a large fabric and craft emporium is the opposite extreme - floor after floor of goods stuffed to the ceiling, a dozen enthusiastic salesmen and few customers. I am overwhelmed and don’t hang around, especially as I don’t really have a clear idea what I’m looking for. Blingy Rajasthani embroidery with velvet, beads, mirrors and sequins, made up into patchwork pieces is prevalent and popular, but I find it a bit kitsch. My taste runs more to humble wood block prints. 

Walking home, away from the tourist area I see a small kitchenware shop with odd looking implements of wood and stone and terracotta. I could hang around here for a while! But have promised Chris I will be back for cocktail hour so quickly grab a small grinding stone - 70rp ($1.40!) - now that’s my kind of souvenir. Hurrying on, my way is blocked by a wedding parade, so I stop and climb up for a better view. The groom on a white horse is weighed down with garlands and looks weary as his celebrants cavort around him, handing out sweets. The horse doesn't look too thrilled either. And this is just the beginning of the ceremonies! 

Kitchenware shop
Twilight in the old city
Street food wallahs, Jodhpur
We have been told that today is the beginning of ‘auspicious wedding season’, as advised by astrologers, and we may see a few more weddings. So when I get home, after a couple of sunset cocktails, we are out wedding-hunting. Heading back towards the old city centre, we see plenty of people hurtling about in their finery, but fail to spot an epicentre of celebration. Until - jackpot - another procession: brass band, drummers, dancing family, friends and well-wishers and finally, the patient groom, laden with marigold wreaths, on his patient white horse. We follow for a while, but finally get too hungry and head back to dinner at Jeemrana veg restaurant, close to our guest house. The rooftop terrace is gorgeous, we order two curries which somehow both turn out to be creamy veg dishes (always difficult to get enough variety when just two of us) and some beer. Then bingo! another wedding procession passes by and we have a bird’s eye view this time.

Roll home, stuffed again, and lying in bed hear drumming getting louder and louder - we dress again and go back down just in time to see yet another groom and procession passing the door of the guesthouse, squeezing along the tiniest laneway! Yes, it’s been a big wedding night.

Wedding parade 1
Wedding parade 2
Wedding parade 3
Our last stop in Jodhpur, that we have been gazing upon from our room for the last two days, is Mehrangarh Fort. We get there early after checking out, and already tour groups are pouring in, but it’s a nice time to be here in the cool morning. It’s one of the most impressive forts in Rajasthan, a combination of atmospheric architecture and informative, historical museum and gallery. While I usually forgo the option of an audio tour, in this case it is included in the ticket, and is a very worthwhile guide to the place and its history. We have allowed 2 and a half hours, and it is barely long enough. The only disappointment is the number of the lovely miniature paintings currently out on loan to a travelling exhibition in the US - they are replaced by prints, some of which are good quality, but others rather poor. 

Finally we head back to the guest house for our drive to Ghanerao, another heritage stay in a village for which we have great expectations (recommended by our friends Martin and Deborah). It's another one of those drives that looks as if it should take less than two hours, but takes well over three, as the main inter-town routes change to potholed village throughways. It’s a nice idea that with a private driver we could ask him to take detours for a more scenic route, but … it’s impossible to tell the state of the roads from the map, and really we don’t want to spend even more time driving! We stop for lunch on the way at a basic ‘dhaba’ - open-air truck-stop. Luckily our driver is happy to order for us, as they seem quite nonplussed by our presence. We get some dal, a veg curry, and roti, and it’s so delicious - the spiciest food we have had so far. We share between the three of us, and the cost is less than $5, which I’m sure includes the ‘tourist’ surcharge.

Beautiful jaali at Mehrangarh Fort
Glam tourists at Mehrangarh


Dog and pup in rubbish, Jodhpur

Cows, dogs, monkeys, squirrels - all of these roam wild, and are communally cared for (yes, we even saw squirrels being fed!). An iconic and wonderfully metaphoric image that I brought home from my first visit to India is that of a sacred cow lying in a rubbish heap: they are still there. Today in Jodhpur I found a dog and her pup sleeping in rubbish.

Asking one of our drivers, it was good to hear how the cows are communally fed and milked and the proceeds used to support them. But it’s hard to see the point of the other animals who are messy, and a pest, and may be diseased, yet are fed and encouraged to breed.

Hinduism in it’s purest form is vegetarian and deplores the killing or mistreatment of animals - after all they are reincarnated souls - so animals are treated as sacred and cared for*. However, sacred cows may be abandoned when past their productive life and certainly we see many in poor condition, and dogs that appear to be malnourished and neglected. While it seems so perverse, is it any more crazy than western culture’s conflicted treatment of animals for consumption vs animals as pets?

*Nazim, our Delhi driver, tells us he is vegetarian because he loves vegetarian food. And so is his family. And also, by the way, the Bhagavad Gita says you will go to hell if you eat meat, so you should stop now!