Getting to Jaipur was the fun part. So much so that Johnny Cash or Willy Nelson would be proud! The only thing missing was a bottle of whisky. Like I mentioned earlier, the air conditioned 1st
class trains were full so we bought 2nd
class tickets from Ajmer to Jaipur and hoped for the best. When our train pulled in, we found the 2nd
class cars so full of people and all their crap that there was no way we could fit in anywhere with our backpacks. So we opted for an even lower class… no class at all. Right behind the engine is a car marked Luggage
. It is nothing more than a box-car with two sliding doors like on a mini-van and a few racks inside for suitcases. The locals pile in by the dozen for the free ride and sit on the floor and various shelves.
Fascinated that we would even consider riding in this, the locals helped us on board and gave up some space so we could sit on top of our backpacks on the floor. When the train started to roll, we left the doors wide open on each side and enjoyed the breeze and passing scenery. The next two and a half hours were filled with answering hundreds of questions in broken English, making friends
, and sharing the supply of pens we bought for just such an occasion (they love pens here). Nora was the only female on the train and, of course, a natural attraction in a box-car full of men. When the first Indian got out his cell phone to ask for a picture, the flood gates were opened. Nora spent the good part of the next hour getting her photo taken by everyone, signing her autograph, and trading e-mail addresses and more pens. And with all this attention from the men, and in the interest of self preservation, it was on this very train that Nora and I got "married
". For the time being, she is now my "wife"
and this seems to keep the local men at arm's length. Apparently, we had a great honeymoon a year ago in Mexico! We invented a number of other answers about our life as a married couple until the topic moved on to something new, like the color of Nora’s hair. This was without a doubt the most fun we could have while sitting in a dirty, uncomfortable train car in the heat and humidity of India.
Arrival In Jaipur:
Jaipur is the Pink City
, so named for the color of the walls and buildings in the city’s old quarter. Supposedly, the color was intended to disguise the poor quality construction materials and workmanship but since the place is still standing today, it can’t be that bad, can it?
To see everything the city has to offer, hiring a driver and auto-rickshaw is the recommended way to go. We struck gold when we randomly met Babaloo. His English was fluent and his rickshaw in top shape.
After visiting more forts, temples, palaces and such we had Babaloo take us to India’s premier cinema so we could buy tickets to a Bollywood film. We saw the only movie playing; Bodyguard
staring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor (which means nothing to any of us). The film was 99% in Hindi and we couldn’t understand a word but it was 100% CHEESE
and that, we can all understand. It was absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever watched. One moment there is a somewhat well acted dramatic scene and the next, everyone breaks into lip-synched song and dance for 10 minutes... which doesn’t have anything to do with anything really. It was certainly worth a few laughs and the 120 rupees(US$2.45) we paid to sit in the Diamond Class box seating.
Next stop is Agra to see India's most famous national treasure...