Pink Flu Anyone?

Trip Start Mar 06, 2005
Trip End ??? ??, 2006

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Sunday, June 5, 2005

Jaipur 5th June
We're now in Eastern Rajasthan and the so called 'Pink City' of Jaipur. After the relative calm of Pushkar we arrived in Jaipur (one of the most polluted cities in rajasthan) with a bit of a jolt!. We were back in the chaotic and frenetic arena of a major city with all the attendant sights and sounds. Noisy traffic choked streets, filled with rickshaws, handcarts, motorcycles, pigs and of course cattle.

Until now we had not experienced problems with begging but as soon as we hit the streets here, we were pestered by street children asking for money, they clung to us, clawing at our clothing pleading for some kind of a handout. It was very difficult to handle this amount of obviously desperate children all demanding your attention at once. It is a strange situation to find yourself in and you do tend to feel guilty for saying no to them (everywhere you go you are advised not to give to beggars but instead if you feel inclined, to make a donation to one of the official charities that exist all over india). However this does little to asuage your immediate guilt.

We had a driving / walking tour of the main city sights in Jaipur soon after we arrived, and then settled into our hotel to plan the next days sightseeing.
During the evening I felt decidedly ill, not this time as a result of eating something 'dodgy' (as was the case with Jane) but plain and simple flu! I had the classic symptoms of hot and cold shivers, a bunged-up nose and generally feeling 'shitty'. (Janes right I am pathetic when I'm ill).

The following morning I didn't feel well enough to go out and so Jane left to explore the city without me. Happy, who had 'taken a bit of a fancy' to Jane, promised to make sure she had a good time and that she would get to see everything she wanted. And that "I musn't worry" I didn't, I switched on the TV and spent the day in bed dozing (and feeling sorry for myself).

Jaipurs old city was painted 'Pink' in 1876 (a colour associated with hospitality) by Maharaja Ram Singh in preparation for the Prince of Wales visit (later King Edward 7th) and this decoration has been maintained to the present day. The colour seems to change throughout the day, a bold pink in daylight, and a softer dusky pink in the late evening... as if it were reflecting the mood of the city.

The Palace complex is one of the major attractions along with the adjacent observatory (Jantar Mantar, 1728). Although Jane returned saying she was not particularly impressed with either, when compared to other places in Rajisthan that we had already seen, (and she insists this wasn't said to lessen my disappointment at not being able to see them).

The views from the nearby intact fort of Jaigarh (never captured) which overlooks the city and desert plaines was more worthwhile including the worlds largest wheeled cannon Jaya Vana, (WOW, that means we've seen both of the worlds largest cannons... with and without wheels). As far as 'sights' go the best were to be found wandering around the streets of the old city within the fortified walls as Jane puts it "just experiencing Jaipur itself". She was facinated by the colourful Rajput men in their traditionally vivid 'neon coloured' turbans coiled on their heads like a pile of 'twisted washing'. Many also sporting large carefully maintained 'handlebar' moustaches (see photos).

On the morning we left I felt considerably better. As we drove out of Jaipur we reached the conclusion that although we had enjoyed seeing the city its 'tourist sights' were not as impressive as we had hoped, (Infact the palace was disappointing). But the city had an undeniable energy to it and its arcitechture added more than a little character, making our visit worthwhile.

Next was our much anticipated stop in Agra and the iconic Taj Mahal...would it live upto our expectations?
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