As I mentioned previously, cows are an extremely common sight in Rajkot. They're an ancient part of the system here, and aside from blocking traffic they really are used to produce milk. Secondarily they also consume refuse, which frequently seems to be liberally thrown out into the street.
The brightly coloured house opposite my grandmothers place.
There are occasions where, wandering around, you can almost imagine that you've stepped back a hundred years in time.
I'd occasionally stumble across temples - some stood on their own, some nestled in laneways. Of these, some were lavishly decorated - sparkling clean and strewn with flowers amongst the surrounding grime. I'm not sure, however, how to feel about this - overseas, many of organisations will ask for donations to build temples, and while they are beautiful I'm reliably informed that they don't really give back to the surrounding community. I could chalk it down to just another example of the gap between rich and poor in India but there's something insipid about using religion as a front for accumulating wealth.
This is the interior of my grandmothers place - it's a small, square courtyard that's open to the air that's surrounded on three sides by rooms. It has three levels; the top one is the roof and the water tank. The middle floor became unsafe for living in after the earthquake in 2003; you might also note the yellow stripes painted on the step edges - my uncle, who visits often, is a safety engineer in New York.
This is the exterior of my uncles place in Ahmedabad, the state capital of Gujarat, which we visited in the couple of days of the trip. The small houses like my grandmothers place are long gone, replaced by high rises and tall apartment blocks.
There are parts of Ahmedabad that are quite wealthy - investment and just general economic development means that it's a fast-growing part of the world. There are shopping malls there that, when inside, are indistinguishable from malls in the rest of the world. The only giveaway to indicate that you're not in the western world are the shop assistants that constantly hover inches away from wherever you are. While the wealth is great for those who have it, there's also a certain blandness to it - local flavour is gradually being replaced by what seems to me to be a generic sameness.