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Rajasthan: A Fascinating Conclusion To Our Indian Adventure

by Carl Shusterman

In New Delhi, we boarded a luxury train known as the "Palace on Wheels" for an exciting seven-day adventure in the Indian state of Rajasthan. See We looked forward to exploring one of the most historical and fascinating parts of the world. We would visit palaces, forts and wild game preserves. We would be transported to a new location each night, and in the morning, we would ride elephants and camels, see forts and palaces and, perhaps, tigers and crocodiles. We would also have the chance to purchase exquisite carpets and jewelry. I secretly hoped that my wife would not get carried away.

We boarded the train, and greeted our fellow passengers, most of whom were Indian-born physicians and their families who had immigrated to the U.S.; there was also a British-American couple and two sisters from Kenya.

We talked excitedly about our plans for the first day with our new-found friends. We were to travel all night and wake up in Jaipur, the "Pink City", the capital of Rajasthan. This well-planned city was painted pink in 1876 to welcome the Prince of Wales. In 1900, it had a population of 160,000. Today, it is inhabited by over two and one-half million people. On our arrival, we were supposed to be transported by elephants to the famous Amber Fort, with its mixture of Hindu and Muslim architecture and its fabulous view of an artificial lake far below.

I had enjoyed delicious meals in Mumbai, Goa and New Delhi without the slightest trace of an upset stomach. However, our final lunch in Delhi, eaten a couple of hours before boarding the Palace on Wheels, did me in completely. It is lucky that the compartments on the train were fairly small, because despite the Imodium that my wife spoon-fed me, I made no fewer than a dozen trips to the restroom that night as our train headed slowly towards Jaipur.

After an entire evening of "Toilet Tango", I felt completely drained. In the morning, as I munched on a piece of dry toast, I informed my fellow passengers that I would be staying on the train to rest for the day because of a "little stomach problem."

Then, I reached for the antibiotic ciprofloxin which I had brought along for just such an eventuality. I swallowed my first pill with my tea, and a few minutes later, I felt like a new person. Instantly, I understood how the term "miracle drugs" originated. Less than an hour later, my wife and I mounted a baby elephant and headed uphill toward the Amber Fort.

The rest of the trip was uphill as well. Our train left Jaipur that evening and crossed the Thar Desert to Jaisalmer, near the border of India and Pakistan. The streets were lively. Children as young as seven and eight years of age formed a band and performed for rupees for the tourists. See

We rode camels across the sand dunes and watched the setting sun. I felt like Lawrence of Arabia. That evening, we watched local dancers and musicians perform as we ate outside next to fireplaces. Some of our friends from the train joined the dancing.

Our next stop was in Jodhpur, the "blue" city. See one of my photographs of Jodhpur taken from the imposing Mehrangarh Fort

Our tour continued through the wildlife sanctuary at Sawai Madhopur where we, unfortunately, were unable to see any of its famed tigers. However, at the Chittaurgarh Fort, we saw dozens of monkeys, none of whom seemed to mind me taking their pictures, especially this long- tailed fellow as he gulped down some water

Next came Udaipur where we took boats to the fabulous Lake Palace for a sumptuous lunch.

The following day, we awoke in the wee hours of the morning, and wrapped ourselves in blankets as we toured the bird sanctuary at the Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur where we saw kingfishers, egrets and Siberian Cranes.

The week ended in Agra, home to the Red Fort and the fabulous Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal was constructed by more than 20,000 workers over a 20-year period in the early 17th Century, just after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock tens of thousands of miles on the other side of the world. It was built under the direction of the Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife after her death so that he could be buried next to her for all eternity.

My wife and I say that our trips to other parts of the U.S. and Europe were vacations, but that our visit to India was truly an "adventure".

About The Author

Carl Shusterman is a native of Los Angeles and a 1973 graduate of the UCLA School of Law. He served as an attorney for the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) until 1982 when he entered the private practice of law. He is authorized to practice before the Supreme Court of California, the Federal District Court in the Central District of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Shusterman is a former chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Southern California Chapter and served as a member of AILA's national Board of Governors (1988-97). He has chaired numerous AILA Committees, spoken at dozens of AILA Conferences and has contributed a number of scholarly articles to AILA's publications. Mr. Shusterman is a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law, State Bar of California. He serves as a member of the Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission for the State Bar. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the American Bar Association. Mr. Shusterman is a frequent writer and lecturer on immigration law. Mr. Shusterman has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Subcommittee On Immigration in Washington, D.C.

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