|One of the side trips that we took from Aurangabad was a day trip to Ajanta. Ajanta is a World Heritage Site of 30 caves that dates from 200BC to AD650. The caves were then abandoned for the building of Ellora (entry to come) and forgotten about until 1819 when a British hunting party stumbled upon them. There caves are cut into the steep side of a gorge. The caves have incredible paintings in them that are still quite beautiful and in almost every cave there is a statue of Buddha. We got there about noon and of course it was bloody hot. Inside the caves however it was quite pleasant. We had to take off our shoes before entering each cave, they are really like holy temples. There were hundreds of Tibetan monks there. In fact, our train from Hyderabad was full of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama had been speaking somewhere in the area so many pilgrims had come. Here at the caves they would rub their prayer beads against the walls and touch their heads into almost every nook and cranny. Upon entering the cave they usually did a series of upright and prostrating prayers, all the while chanting. They also would drape white clothes over the Buddha and offer monetary offerings inside. Outside they would light candles and joss sticks. It really was a neat experience to be with so many pilgrims. The only downside to the day was our drive back to Aurangabad. We had decided to try India's public bus system and the two and a half hour drive there was really pleasant as we drove through the small villages up into the hills. Oh but the bus ride home! I guess our driver was in a hurry so he was making good time on these curvy and hilly roads. At one point he took a curve going so fast that a lady behind me (with baby in lap) and I were flown out of our seats into the aisle. I swear that the outside wheels must have left the ground. I was ready to let that driver have it but I didn't dare get out of my seat. Fortunately we only had about a half hour to go before making it home. More random thoughts on India: We really do take off our shoes a lot. Seems like they are off more than on. Indians have a peculiar movement of their head that they do in conversation to indicate yes or I understand. We call it the "bob and nod". Its a combo of an up and down and side to side movement. Brad was practicing it once and Mrs. Rao saw him and burst out laughing. She admitted that they do it a lot but it is sort of confusing. You're often not sure if they are nodding in agreement or disagreement. The women have flesh colored socks that have a separate sewn area for the big toe so that they can wear them with their thong sandals. Ingenious! The more I get out into random rural India, the more I think India looks a lot like Nicaragua. The houses, markets, buses, animals, farm land, etc. Maybe its something familiar with the third world but I swear they seem really similar to me.