Monday, March 2, 2009

Rosy City- Jaipur

Sorry to have been away from writing for a while- I got really sick as a result from eating at that lady's stand in Pushkar...the problem was compounded bythe fact that I ate there the next day as well as I had promised her that I would come and eat there after my visit to the temple and didn't actually make it back there until 6 my food had literally been sitting out in the hot sun all day. I tried to slink past her into my hoitel but she saw me and uncovered a huge vat of dahl and aloo paratha and beckoned me over. Yikes. I felt even worse once I met her amazing 8 yr old son Shiva who was afflicted with polio. This broke my heart and I figured that my gastrointestinal tract will recover (someday) while her son never will. So I swallowed my fear and bravely ate what she had lovingly prepared for me. Yikes.

I am definitely paying for it now, although I actually craved and held down real food (aside from curd which has been my staple over the last fewdays) today so that is a good sign. Indeed.

So to sum up the last few days...I spent my last day in Pushkar hangingout at the Savitri temple and I met a really lovely and funny American couple at the top. We all headed down the mountain and went to visit Sundeep at his herbal tea cafe. We enjoyed a lovely glass of chai and then decided to get scooters and headout on a bit of a roadtrip. Sunny ended up taking us to the otherside of the desert to this other Shiva temple which was nestled in a valley between 2 masse mountains. Sunny took me on his bike which was great as the road was really sandy and rocky, and Amanda and Brian rented a scooter. The ride was amazing- we sailed past lush gardens growing marigolds, roses, and herbs which lit up my olfactory glands in the dusty heat. Children came out to whack our hands as we sailed past. We spent about 4 hoursout in the desert, and sat in this Shiva cave in meditation for about 20 minutes. It was so cool and dark inside the cave...we had to climb down stairs that were carved into rock to get to the main lingam.

I left Pushkar the next day with a ready and sound mind. I enjoyed my time there but was definitely ready to move on. I had my bus ticket and a lovely hotle courtesy of my loving father. I was feeling really il though so I was a bit worried about how I was going to fare on the journey. Well India has a way of messing with yourplans in the only way that it can- by turning everything upside down. I ran into a Baba that I had met on my first venture out to the desert, a realy sweet and young man who spoke fairly good English. I told him that I was ill (it was fairly noticable as I was a particularshade of green) and he blessed me with some mala beads and some other gifts. I invited him out to get somethingto eat (curd for me) and we sat and chatted for a while. He sudenly asked me to move closer to him and he then showed me a very infected testicle after telling me that he was in great pain. I had noticed him limping butdidn't want to ask any questions. I wasn't sure what to do, and an alarm bell went offinside me. I did want to help the guy- he had walked for 2 hours from the middle of the desert to Pushkar and was on his way to I gave him some money for medicine. He blessed me yet again, and I just really hope that he actually spends the money on meds...he does have a fairly significant chillum habit. I did checkw ith Martin though about this as he knows the Baba's way and he said that it was fairly standard to be so open with such a private partof the body..the naga babas wear no clothes and Babas are supposed to be above any sort of modesty. So I guess it was in order from his side toshow me this, although in my western way I was really shocked!
I made it down to the bus stop for 2:30- 30min before my scheduled bus departure. And waited...and waited...and waited....The men who sold me my ticket seemed totally uninterested in the fact that the bus was meant to be there for 3 and that I was geting picked up in Jaipur at 7 pm by my hotel. They also told me suddenly that the bus was going to stop in Ajmer for 45 minutes so that I would be arriving later than 7:30pm. I asked to call my hotel to let them know that I would be late on arival, but the men wouldn't let me "Madame they know this bus is always late". Well I sure wish I had known as I would have taken another mode of transit!! The bus finally showed up, and on I went only to discover that I was joining a tour group and that the stop in Ajmer was actually going to be for 1 hr and a half...enough time for everyone to go to the mosque in Ajmer! The driver took one of my bags, dropped it in the trunk and then asked for 20 rupees "Luggage charge madam" which I didn't pay for. In Ajmer I didn't get off the bus, and sat fuming on the side of the highway with an aching tummy. To top it off the bus driver and his sidekick took a liking to me and came to sit with me asking me all sorts of questions. Luckily there was an equally frustrated Japanese guy who took pity on me and asked me in broken english if I would like to get off the bus and split a taxi with him to Jaipur. I gotoff the bus and together we headed off to find a taxi driver who would takeus for a good price. We found someone to take us for 1350 rupees after bargaining for about 15 minutes and off we went. It was a fairly relaxing journey aside from the fact that we were almost killed a dozen of times by huge trucks carrying massive loads on their ends driving in our lane trying to pass the other trucks carying massive loads, and the fact that we listened to the same track the entire time to Jaipur. But we reached Jaipur in one piece (with me whispering the occasional OM NAMAH SHIVAYA) and were dropped off at the bus station at 6 pm. The driver wouldn't call my hotel to let them know that I arrived early so I headed to the nearest phone booth to call my hotel. I was surrounded by touts immediately and no amount of me telling them that I already 1) Had a hotel 2) Was going to be picked up momentarily would get them away from me. "Please madam good price I take you good hotel" "Madame why you like this? My hotel so nice, you first business for me today" "Madame I give you good ride for good price in rickshaw, ok please come". I walked out of the station with 5 men following me and more men joining the group "Madam you need rickshaw? I take you good price". I started to get very annoyed and angry and told them all to leave me alone, which none ofthem did. I'm starting to think that they just cannot hear nor understand the word "NO". I think the word "NO" means to ask again! I asked someone where the Traffic Jam Cafe (where my hotel driver was going to meet me) was, "Madam so far 10 minutes this way. I take you in rickshaw. Good price". This continued with many people jumping in to tell which way the cafe was "NO madam this way good restaurant cheap price" when in all actuality it was behind me the whole time! I finally found it after getting really frustrated and settled in momentarily before my driver came and swept me into his car. Pnce I arrived at the hotel Umaid Mahal, I was in heaven! The elaborate paintings on the outside as well as the gleaming gold front doors assured me that I had indeed found a litlle piece of paradise in the polluted and soiled capital of Rajasthan! Thanks DADDY! My bedroom is amazing and I have a lovely bathroom with 24 hr hot water and a proper's been weeks since I have had a proper's been bucket baths for ages!! I settled in nicely and slept very well. I spent most of Sunday in bed watching bad Indian tv (the dance shows are the WORST! And ALWAYS on!!) and sitting on my terrace having a read. I met a really lovely Indian family from Bangalore (3 daughters and 1 mama) who have now adopted me and are taking me with them to Agra on Tuesday to see the majestic Taj Mahal. I'm very excited to spend the whole day with them and get to know them, and they are excited to show me their country and one of the ancient 7th wonders of this world. I was taken out though by a rickshaw driver though and managed to spend a pretty penny on a strand of rubies- my present to myself for making it through one of the worst periods of my life- so I felt really indulgent but satisfied. It's a small strand but the necklace is gorgeous and I can finally say that I am done shopping here in India!

I made it outtoday with the rickshaw driver and saw a goodportion of this pink city. I have to say that I'm really noit very impressed- if I had come here first then I may have a different view but after being in the smaller Rajasthani cities I find this one a bit much. It's very loud, noisy, polluted, the people are very harrassing, and hot. I have been grabbed by street people begging while sitting in the rickshaw and everyone expects money everywhere I turn. I am finding it really exhausting especially in my sick state and my hotel has become my sanctuary from it all. I managed to see the City Palace, the minaret over looking Jaipur, the Maharaja gardens and "lake" (dust bowl with empty fountain", the monkey temple of the Sun God, and my favorite place the Maharaja Masoleum underneath the forts. It was absolutely stillthere with intricately carved crypts and tombs. Ispent about 45 minutes walking around escapingthe heat and admiring the carvings. I also found an eagle feather and loads of peacock feathers so that made for a nice scavenger hunt. My driver was really nice although I may have ruined his plans of taking me to "his friend's shop" as my visa card stopped working so suddenly I was whisked back to the hotel (with no complaints from me...I was DONE). I did manage to catch a preview of the impending Holi festival though on the Jaipur streets…a massive procession of people, decorated elephants, coloured camels, marching bands, flying marigolds, blasting music, and sailing colours came down the Jaipur streets. I was very excited to see the procession, and hope that the Holi festival will be as colourful in Puri as it will be here in Rajasthan!
I’m still feeling very ill though and have started to take antibiotics unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll be able to eat something other than curd in the next fewdays…and I don’t want to feel like this when I am viewing the Taj!

1 comment:

Martin said...

Jaipur is one of the hottest and most famous tourist attractions of India. A trip to India can never be complete without a visit to this place of immense historical and architectural importance. In its time it was among the best planned cities in the entire Asia and was the first planned city in India. Jaipur has a very happy amalgamation of the new and the old worlds. The charm and magic of Jaipur lies in the fact that it has a bit of everything- science, art and architecture, culture, religion, and history, ingrained into every inch of it. The warmth and hospitality of the people make a visit to the Pink city all the more memorable, remarkable and cherished. The best part of Jaipur is that even the hotels in Jaipur and the resorts have the flavor and fragrance of the ethnicity and hospitality of the place and its people. Most of the ITC hotels in Jaipur are not just places of shelter, but an experience in itself. Most of the leisure hotels in Jaipur have the ambience, feel and style of its rich and colorful history and culture. The treatment that the guests receive in the budget hotels in Jaipur is one of royalty and at the same time one of genuine affability.