If you’re interested in mobile and Internet usage trends in India, it’s worth checking out this presentation from Google India posted on Mashable last week.
On the mobile phone front, the picture is extremely encouraging with the total number of subscribers now at over 850 million – or around 71% of the population. Since quite a lot of people own two or more phones, the actual number of users is probably around 600 – 650 million, but that still means that at least 50% of the country’s people now have a mobile.
When I got back into the car, I was suddenly transported to a different time and place as long dormant memories of market days I spent with my grandfather in the small Lincolnshire town of Spilsby in the early 1970s flooded through my brain. How I would yearn for him to speed up as he crawled along the narrow winding country lanes in his trusty old pick-up truck so that I could run to the newsagents to pick up the latest edition of my favorite comic, Roy of the Rovers. And how bored I would get as I stood around waiting for my grandfather to finish chewing the cud with his old cronies, having read and reread my comic so many times that I couldn’t almost memorize the stories.
I didn’t have much patience then and I don’t think I have that much more forty years later. Neither did the young guys whizzing past our car on their motorbikes with their girlfriends hugging them closely from behind, their fashionable modern clothes and flashy mobile phones harbingers of the changes that are set to sweep rural India as it is dragged almost unwittingly into the modern world.
The motorbikes mysteriously disappeared as the road twisted its way up into the hills. The previously fertile fields had now turned into scrubland, and the tall graceful palm trees I had seen earlier had been replaced by much smaller, less verdant species. Up ahead of us a tall sheer crag with a small temple perched on its summit came into sight.
This, I knew from my notes, was the Narasimha Temple. It wouldn’t take us long to get to Melkote now.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve developed quite a fondness for the area I’ve been staying in close to the Mumbai Siddhivinayak Temple. There’s a pulsating rhythm to life on the busy crowded streets, while the temple itself stands majestically above the fray like a beacon, constantly drawing you to its presence.
I can’t say I’m much of a foodie, but over the years I have become quite partial to Indian savory snacks commonly known as chaat.
Here are a couple of photos of a Maharashtrian variant I had tonight called Sev batata puri, comprising a tangy mix of boiled potatoes, chopped onions, and sweet and spicy chutney on top of fried papdis (mini-pancakes).
While I was searching for the Holalu video file, I came across this video showing the Ganesha statue and Hanuman Temple on the Melkote hillside that I wrote about in this recent post.
Truly an unexpected pleasure!
A few scenes of rural life in the hamlet of Holalu, where I made a brief stop on the road to Melkote.
You can read more in the latest update to my eBook project here. I've also posted a gallery of photos that I took of Holalu here.
A few minutes after leaving the restaurant, the driver turned right off the highway and almost immediately we were bumping along a narrow pothole-ridden road flanked by rich verdant fields and tall graceful trees.
A sign we passed said it was only 33km to Melkote but I knew it was going to take quite a length of time to cover even such a short distance. Besides, now that I was off the highway I was no longer in a particular hurry and I sat back to enjoy the beautiful countryside.
I haven’t had the chance to see any of the famous tourist sights of Jodphur, though this evening I had a pleasant stroll along the road outside my hotel watching people pick up their vegetables, fruits, and snacks from stalls like this one at the nearby market on their way home from work.
Back at the hotel, I was accosted by a storekeeper eager to show me his huge collection of traditional camel leather slippers. The craftsmanship on them was quite incredible; I felt almost guilty at having to tell him that I wasn’t exactly his target market.
I’ve put together a small gallery of the photos I shot of Mumbai Sea Link on Friday evening.
Last night, while strolling along the beach I composed this short Haiku:
Waves roll on the shore
Soft breezes caress my face
Lights shine from afar
Vade Idly and Dosa Masala at the Kamat Restaurant on the road from Bengaluru to Mysore: the perfect south Indian breakfast.
Read more in the third part of the Road to Melkote here. You can also see the full image gallery here.
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