Trip Start Sep 17, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The fort at Jodhpur is absolutely superb. It towers over the bluebell painted town(this blue wash not only looks really pretty it also protects the buildings from termites). You get there and for your 250 rupees you get an excellent 30 section audio guide. The English was 1940s BBC presenter perfect and very well written. For a few hours I lost myself in the sometimes bloody but incredibly romantic history of the fort. One man agreed to be buried alive in the foundations to reverse a curse that the settlement would have no water (no small threat to a town on the eastern borders of the Thar desert). I shuddered as I saw the 30 handprints of the Queens that died in the last royal Sati. (This is when a widow sacrifices herself on her husband's funeral pyre.)But I also drank in the romance of it all - the views, the ornately carved screens ( so that the women could look out and not be seen and the secret balconies in the room of public audience so that they could listen in and influence events), the room of cradles, and the door that was built at a right angle so that elephants couldn't build up enough speed to break it down. I also liked the fact that there was a relaxed tourist lounge half way through with fans, exceptionally comfy chairs and zero hassle.
Another really good thing that's happened here is that we were invited to go and have a cup of chai with some of the neighbours. Gulchen (Hindi for garden and I'm not sure that's how you spell it) sat with me for ages and we looked at her wedding photos together. I really felt that we were on the same wavelength despite only having a few words of language in common. It was interesting to see all the photos of her in western dress before she got married - jeans, trainers etc. She dresses very traditionally now and when she came out onto the street to say goodbye she covered her eyes with her veil and looked away from the men gathered outside. Later on I made the connection that her and her husband are Muslim and with it being Ramadan they had served us tea while they were fasting. So the hospitality was all the more touching.
So we've had some fun experiences in Jodhpur but I really wouldn't recommend more than a day here. We planned three days and yesterday we went to a tiny government run museum in the park. It was gloomy and so unfriendly that at one point the woman on reception came in and yelled at us to not take photos when we didn't even have our camera out. The zoo in the same park was also depressing - I could just about stomach the bird and reptile section although it was poorly maintained. Then we got onto mammals. There were rats in the rabbit cage and the rabbits were covered in sores. We didn't stay to see the tigers and bears that the ticket boasted of. I think it would have been too upsetting. We then went to the tiny but glossy museum in the Umiad Bhawan Palace. It was very interesting - providing a real glimpse into upper class India in the 1930s and 40s. But we were round it in half an hour. The sights of Jodhpur exhausted we were relieved to find a huge second hand bookshop just to the right of the clocktower yesterday afternoon!
We were a little unwise in our choice of hotel as well. When the staff at Shiva in Udaipur started recommending a guest house here we were non committal as we really wanted to go to Yogis (having had glowing reports on the place from other travellers). But we weren't firm enough and before we knew it a pick up had been arranged from the bus station to the hotel we're staying at now. Our room is lovingly decorated with a well tiled bathroom,tasteful ornaments and block printed pillowcases. But it's in the top two floors of a family house so with only one other guest I do feel like we're intruding a bit. Also eating in the restuarant has been an experience to say the least. I ordered veg macaroni on Sunday night and was brought a tiny ramekin of pasta after 40 minutes. Joe got a huge plate of rice for a cheaper price. When I told the manager that the portion sizes were wrong he said 'that's what i give all my customers'.
We've wistfully eaten our meals at the brightly painted ,packed out, efficient Yogis ever since and when the manager of our hotel started trying to recommend somewhere in Jaisalmer as we settled up this morning it was the voice of experience that lied and said we already had somewhere booked!
Cheers for reading, Jo x
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