Friday, July 24, 2009

June 5th "The Real India" - Jaipur, Rajasthan (the Pink City)

June 5, 2009

Everyone told us how comfortable the air-conditioned Volvo buses from Delhi to Jaipur are, but I am so uncomfortable with the the seats that I can not sleep and I am freezing. These buses are not like the luxury buses in America that I was expecting. We are suppose to be on the bus from 10pm to about 2am in the morning but after being stuck in traffic from Delhi to Jaipur we arrive at the Jaipur bus station around 8am. Exhausted with heavy eyes I can't help but keep them open as I continue to be amazed as the sun comes up with the sights of India in this new region.

I am so happy when we arrive at the city I have been waiting for this whole trip. Ahhh... Jaipur, Rajasthan, the city of the Kings with the curly "monopoly guy" mustaches... "The pink City"!

The owner of the Krishna Palace, named Vinod Kumar, (same last name as Uday) picks us up and drives us to his palace. I am disappointed that as soon as we get to our guest house called Krishna Palace, that I need to take a nap as I am truely exhausted.

Uday continues his theme of wanting us to save money so we take the least expensive room. I don't mind much here because it is clean, the bed is comfortable and I know we do not have time to spend in our room anyways. I still sleep without blankets on this bed as well as all of the beds in India so far, just in case they are not clean. Below are pictures of our room at the Krishna Palace in Jaipur.

Even though our room is not much to look at I am pleasantly surprised that the outside looks like a small palace. After about a 4 hour nap and a shower we take some pictures at the palace before touring the city.

Vinod, the palace owner, suggests that we hire a driver for the day to take us around the city in order to save time and see as much as possible. I am feeling skeptical as we finally got rid of our last driver, but I trust Vinod, and Uday, and I don't have a better suggestion to explore this city. We could take an "Auto" but it is very hot outside and we want to go to dinner later and it is too far of a drive to take the Auto so we take him up on it. Our driver's name is Majeed and he is pretty quiet.

With high hopes, I am surprised that the land of the Maharajah's (Great Kings) is so full of trash. Majeed shows us where there was a bomb blast 4 years ago and sadly, I can not tell the difference between the bomb blast area and the rest of the city since the two areas look the same. There are so many buildings crumbling and dirty. Even though the buildings are old and authentic looking, there is so much trash everywhere that the city's appearance is disappointing to me and Uday. We have seen many places in India so far that were full of trash and over crowded with people and this place is no different. It is a hot day and we watch a lot of children completely naked bathing and having fun in the fountain in the middle of the city. There are camels pulling carts, and people busy with the hustle and bustle of the day.

We see Hawa Mahal (Air Palace)

City Palace...

is where we go first, it is pretty, but only a few rooms are open to the public.

When we are outside of The City Palace we continue to see what we have already been seeing in the places we have visited in India such as straight men holding hands and poor doggy's' trying to stay cool.

On the way to our next tourist spot in Jaipur, around the corner from The City Palace we see a snake charmer and take a picture of him. He becomes annoyed that we didn't give him a tip and he is yelling at us but finally gives up. Below is the picture I took of him before he got mad!

We also visit... Jantar Mantar (Magic "Wagic")/Calculation Instrument - The largest stone astronomical observatory in the world.

Below is picture of a worker here but I think it looks like part of the art and beauty of this place.

Upon leaving this area to head to the Amber Fort we meet an Indian women who comes to our car with her naked infant with an Ethiopian belly. She has him raised up in her arms out in the hot sun to beg us for money. It is so difficult to see this mother with her starving baby that I am too shocked to think about taking a picture as it looks like her baby is dying. I feel so helpless and I don't know what to do. I don't know how to react or who to be angry at. Uday and I wonder what her real story is: Is anyone exploiting her? Is giving her money making the problem worse or better? Exploitation of kids is especially disgusting and wrong! We feel bad, we don't know her story but we do not give her money in case she would still choose not to mother her baby properly with the money if she had it. Uday asks her why she does not get a job, but she does not answer. We feel suspicious and shocked by the sight of it. Uday and I feel really bad and as Majeed drives off, I kind of wish we gave her money just in case it would have helped. We continue to move forward on our trip and see more interesting sights for better or for worse.

I'm realizing that everyone expects money here in Jaipur, when I take a picture of them. I take a picture of this camel and it's owner and they too ask for money but I tell them I have no money and also say, "It is just a picture!", as I run back to the car were Uday and our driver are waiting for me.

I also take a picture of this palace and no one can ask me for money for this picture however there are still many beggars in this area following me around, so I quickly take the picture and leave. I feel better that Uday is with me this time. Majeed told us that this palace was built on the water and that they grew trees on the top of the building to keep it cool for the royalty to be comfortable when they were there.

Jal Mahal (Water Palace)

and now we go to the infamous Amber Fort, a well known tourist spot that I have been waiting for...

Amber Fort

Uday and I can't seem to drink enough water and when we get it, it is just a little cool and quickly it becomes hot, but we drink it anyway out of neccessity. When we first enter the Amber fort we see a lot of women workers as they are hitting a stick on wet concrete in their saris.

Here is a another picture of a woman who sweeps there and she is taking a break. All of the brooms in India look like this...very natural.

At the grand entrance of the inner section of the Amber Fort we take pictures for families with their camera as well as with ours (upon their request), and someone takes a picture of us.

I drink a large sip of the hot water we have to try and stay hydrated and want to throw up when I realize that I drank someone elses water bottle by accident. I am so grossed out but it is too late and we move on after getting a new bottle of cooler water.

There are so many beautiful photo opportunities with the unique architecture, people, elephant rides, and elephants with decorated faces, and much more, that I don't waste the opportunity. Below are only a few examples.

Below is a picture of where they used to make curry for the Kings and Queens and all of their guest and large parties. The large looking bowls are extremely large cooking pans.

Most people are taking pictures of each other and the building structures here but I continue to be side-tracked by the people of India. I love how the women in India seem to match each other exactly (or at least be coordinated and go with each other) in many places we go and I can't resist taking more photos.

Here is a picture of Uday being funny at one of the fort doors leading to a basement, he too is irresistible!

The Amber Fort is famous for it's Elephant ride up to the fort. Uday says he could pass it but I can't and we go all the way back down the long pathway to get a ride on the elephant back up to the main part of the fort. I want to have this experience to travel the same pathway and the same mode of transportation as royalty did in the past. Who wouldn't want to treat themselves to feeling like royalty for a very inexpensive cost.

Uday is busy talking to people who are trying to get us to buy pictures of us even though we already paid someone else a few cents to take pictures of us with our own camera. There are also boys trying to get money to allow us to wear their traditional "turbans". Uday give into paying a little bit for us to wear their turbans for a few pictures.

Towards the end of our ride this kid plays this string instrument for us and it is really nice to be serenaded while on our royal elephant ride.

When we leave the Amber Fort and on the way back to the car the kid who was trying to get us to pay for the pictures he took of us on the elephant, finally gave up and just gave us the pictures making a remark that Uday is too cheap to buy them. So we get to have our elephant ride and keep two nice pictures by this kid as well as the pictures from our own camera. Many people are begging us to buy something from them the whole way back to our car and the more Uday talks with them the more they beg. I feel bad for them yet it is very annoying.

We finally reach our car and we take in more scenes of India on our way to our dinner at a place called "Choki Dhani". Here are a couple pictures on the way.

We stop at some shops on the way and don't buy anything before reaching Choki Dhani to have our ethnic Rajastani Dinner. This place is for tourist but the locals are hired for everything that is done here. The pictures speak for themselves at this place.

Greeted by snake charmers and this young girl who puts this red Bindi on our forehead with rice before entering the village.

We pay and chose at the beginning if we want the typical Indian dinner or the typical Rajasthan dinner. Uday and I chose the Rajasthan dinner to see what it is like and what our friend Rahul was talking about when he said the curry was good and more full of "ummm...butttterrr!"

We decide to walk around before eating and it is so hot I also decide to change my clothes to a dress. I also feel that I am dressed to casual the way that I am. Below are just a few pictures of what we saw walking around before dinner.

Here are dancing girls and local Indian tourist watching them perform.

Indian Ox and cart rides as well as camel and elephant rides being given for a very inexpensive cost.

Even with the change of clothes I am still extremely hot and not hungry but we don't want to miss dinner and decide to go in to have our traditional Rajathani dinner.

It was fun sitting on the floor eating on one of their traditional tables and wearing their traditional "turban" for a while. They keep serving one thing at a time before we can finish what they last served and I keep wondering when they will stop giving us food. I remembered Rahul and Alok telling us that when Rajasthani people have you for dinner they keep feeding you and want to ensure that you are truly satisfied (and stuffed!).

We make friends with some people we are sitting with and I take a picture of the Henna she just got done on her hand "Rajathani style". I also take a picture of our friendly waiter.

Uday eats everything on his plate and more than half of mine since I am too full and I don't want to be rude. I have to admit that the food was too rich for me, and not my favorite but nevertheless, well worth this unique experience. Uday obviously really liked the food.

The rest of the night we took in the sights of the performances...

The People...

The experiences... (the Hukka)

and the famous camels and camel ride...

Overall, we saw a lot of what Jaipur has to offer but Choki Dhani is a must see, which left nothing to be desired. Choki Dhani was just as I dreamed Jaipur would be and much more. I can't believe we covered so much in one day, but I am glad we made the trip even for one day to see these exotic sights, we will sleep well tonight.

And I love this picture of Uday and these guys with the camel. Check out the "Monopoly Guy" mustaches.

Click on this picture below to see all of our pictures of Rajasthan:


Ganesh said...

nice blog , i liked the way you planned your tour , i saw the photo to two guys going around hand in hand and they are not gay , just for the record i always felt it was sense of friend ship they catch there hands, we also have a famous song "sathi hath badana" which means friends come and give me a hand , it symbolizes friendship and it was the same in US during the days of Civil war, i have seen many photos of men putting their arm around fellow soldiers and having a walk hand in hand but with the coming to late 40's this entirely changed .
India is very big country made up of 240 princely states so you see a lot of people speaking a lot of languages same 2000 dialects and 20 major languages if you see the people in Rajasthan they ask money for photos but you will see people who give you free peacock feather gifts just to get a photo , very contrasting and very diverse in all it is unity in diversity that is truly India

Mark Pipkin said...

Great pictures and really good to hear from you!!!! Any kids yet???? What are you waiting for!!!! Lets get together sometime!!!

Mark Pipkin
(Uday's friend from bike race)

Sandy Mader said...

Eric, what a fantastic trip for you and Amy. The pictures and the blog were great. Please tell Amy that she did a terrific job.

Thanks for sharing.
(Uday's co-worker at Authentium)