Jaipur: March 23- 26, 2013
As you all know we are well behind on our blog posts. As a way to keep people up to date with what we are doing now, we wanted to put up a blog post from one of our latest stops, which was Jaipur, India. Other blog posts about India will be coming since we have been here for roughly a month at this point in time.
As before, Eric will provide the core narration with Sam interjecting her comments in italics.
March 23, 2013- Mathura to Jaipur
Our trip to Jaipur was quite an adventure. We were staying in Mathura where we would take a train to Agra (where the Taj Mahal is) and then catching a connecting train from Agra onto Jaipur. Leaving Mathura was an issue because Sam was not feeling well. She was sick from the night before until we had to leave Mathura due to what we think was some bad chocolate milk as that was the only thing she had different from me. It was almost as bad as my Moroccan food poisoning stomach bug.
Our train wasn’t leaving until 3:30pm, but the check-out time at our hostel was noon. I had to pay the guy an extra 250 rupees (5 US Dollars), which was half a night’s stay so we could stay in the room a couple of extra hours before going to the train station. That’s real Indian hospitality right there.
We finally left our room and got the first auto rickshaw that we saw to head to the train station. It was a “holiday” which entitled the guy to give us a high price of 100 rupees, but Sam was sick so she wasn’t really in the mood to have us haggle with the guy. The ride should have been around 50 rupees, but the initial 50 meter walk to the tuk-tuk was already getting me sick again. We got to the train station and Sam laid down, while I was trying to figure out what was going on with our train. Despite how gross the train station was, she felt so bad she just laid down on the ground. You would only lay on the ground at one of these stations if you really felt awful. I at least tried to find a more secluded corner, but inevitably we had plenty of Indians rearrange themselves to be within staring distance. (Since this is the first post about India we haven’t told you yet how much Indians STARE.)
Finding out the train schedule at an Indian train station can be an adventure. They will move a train to another platform last minute, and the schedule isn’t always up to date with when the train will actually arrive. This train only showed up about 20 minutes late, which might be the best we have done so far in India. We got on the train and found our seats in the Sleeper class for the 45 minute train ride from Mathura to Agra. Sam laid with her head on my lap the entire time, while I spoke with some guy who was a Business Analyst for Target. He asked me about the Target stores as he had never been to one, so I sat on the train describing what they were like for this guy. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree with excitement and he stated how he could not wait to go to one of those stores. I made sure not to burst his bubble and tell them they weren’t that cool. Unless you are a woman who likes to shop. Like me… I would rank Target as one of my all-time favorite stores.
When we got off the train at the Agra Fort station and Sam had to lie down again. Even the slightest movement was making me nauseous, plus I was light-headed and weak from not eating all day (I couldn’t keep anything down, even last night’s dinner), so I needed to rest and let everything settle down before I could make another “big” move. Again, I laid down on the ground in a corner of one of the platforms, this time the stare-factor was much lower- we only had a family of three nearby staring. Honestly, I have no idea how we can be so interesting that people will stare for a full straight HOUR.
I read to pass some time as we had 2.5 hours to kill before our next train which we had to catch at the other Agra train station. After about an hour Sam felt up for it so we caught a rickshaw from the Agra Cantt station to the Agra Fort station for our train to Jaipur. When we arrived at the train station, Sam found a comfortable spot in the corner of the waiting room to lie down. She got comfortable and I surrounded her with all of our luggage so I could go get some food. I went outside of the train station to explore the street food situation. I had some delicious vegetable noodles as well as some sort of potato stuffed bread. It was amazing and super cheap. Our train was supposed to leave at 7:30pm, but it ended up being delayed by
about 4.5 hours. I did some blogging (shocker I know) and some reading to pass the time while Sam slept. Our train arrived just before midnight and we hopped onto 3rd
tier A/C car, which means we had beds with air conditioning in the cars. Sam passed out almost immediately. In the third tier train cars the inside is arranged in six-passenger compartments. During sleeping hours the middle bunk (each side of the compartment has three bunks) is pushed up to allow the bottom tier/bunk to serve as a normal bench seat for everyone. As our train was supposed to come in at 7:30pm (before sleeping hours) we were not anticipating the bunks to already be set up in sleeper positions.
Our train ticket indicated that the ride from Agra to Jaipur would be 4 hours and 15 minutes. I set our alarm for 4 hours later so that I could sleep a little bit. I woke up to the alarm 4 hours later and noticed that a good portion of our train car was empty. I went to speak with someone to ask when we would arrive in Jaipur, he said that we had passed it 15 minutes ago. I woke Sam up so we could try to figure out what to do next. Some nice guy told us to get off at the next major station where we could take a train or bus to Jaipur. The next stop was almost 1.5 hours after we spoke with him.
So now we arrived at some station in the middle of nowhere around 5:30 in the morning. We went to the ticket counter and the ticket clerk told us the next train to Jaipur would be arriving at 6:45am. He sold us the only tickets that were available, which were for Second Class. This is the absolute WORST place you can be on an Indian train. This is like sitting in the cheap seats at sporting event. These cars are overcrowded and Indian people push, punch, and kick at each other to get on. There are no reservations for second class cars, and no limit of passengers per car (that is enforced anyway).
When the train starts pulling away you might see 5-7 Indian people hanging onto anything they can to try and squeeze onto the train. It’s a free for all and something that we were not interested in getting involved with. Add to that the fact that there is only open windows in second class cars, no A/C, which wouldn’t be so bad except there’s practically no chance of actually making it to a seat anywhere near a window.
We made the executive decision to just get onto another car that looked like it had some room, hop into some seats, then pay an upgrade on he train if we had to (hopefully… we’ve never actually tried this before).
Our plan backfired a little bit as the entire train was packed, so we hopped onto the Sleeper Class car. This was also completely full, and jammed as much as the second class cars
, so we found some space between two train cars, on top of the connector parts of the train cars where the bathrooms typically are
, which was great at first as no one else was there. Unfortunately for us it filled us as we went along, so for most of our 2.5 hour train ride to Jaipur we were surrounded by people. Sam found a little crouch/sit down, while I stood up trying to read with my arms pressed against my side. I was sweating like I was sitting in a sauna and it was not fun at all.
We finally arrived into Jaipur around 9:30am, we got into a rickshaw, went to our hotel, ate a little breakfast, after close to 36 hours of no substantial food I managed to have a fried egg and piece of toast before my stomach started hating me again,
then we passed out for several hours. We later woke up to walk around a little bit and look for some camera equipment for Sam. We got ourselves a little lost so we hopped onto a rickshaw to come home. The Indian guys driving the rickshaw were nice and spoke great English. We made plans to have them take us around Jaipur the next day to see all of the sights. After we got back to the hotel we met up with our Austrian friends Dan and Babs whom we had meet a week before during our time at the Bandhavargh National Park and Tiger Reserve. We ate some dinner with them, I tried to eat some soup but my stomach was not having it,
and made plans to meet up with them in the morning to begin our tour of Jaipur. Jaipur- Day 2- Sightseeing
Day two started off with a little breakfast then jumping into the rickshaw with Dan and Babs to tour around Jaipur. Two drivers up front sharing the driver’s bench (we found out later they were cousins but acted like best friends), and us four in the back. Some rickshaws can accommodate four passengers, but most only comfortably fit two, or three if you squeeze (this is of course by western standards- you will regularly see as many as 10 Indians crammed into and/or hanging outside of a rickshaw). We had a standard sized rickshaw which meant that our ride today was going to be a squeeze.
We started off in the Pink City, which is the main area to visit in Jaipur. The "Pink City" is Jaipur’s “old city”, which was actually the first planned city in Northern India, built in the 1700’s. The old city was originally painted pink, the traditional color of hospitality, to welcome the Price of Wales in 1876.Since then the city has always been kept pink.
We took some pictures near the main gates before moving on.
Next stop was the Jantar Mantar, a large outdoor observatory. The observatory was begun in 1728, by the same guy (Jai Singh II) who built the city and who apparently considered astronomy as quite a hobby. The name “Jantar Mantar” translates to “instrument of calculation”.
This was an interesting place as we were able to see sun dials and other instruments that old Indian civilizations used to tell the time, what month it was, etc.
From there we went to Gatore Ki Chhatriyan (Royal Gaitor). This was a place full of memorials dedicated to past rulers. It was a nice place to visit because there weren’t a lot of tourists there. And we could relax in the shade.
Our next stop was to the Amber Fort, which was a very big tourist spot. The Amber Fort was about 11 km (I hate the metric system) outside of town. This was a nice attraction, but the best part of the visit were a couple of incidents:
- The first one involved Indian guys asking for pictures to be taken. Sometimes they ask for pictures with all of us, but these pictures they really wanted to take with Sam and Babs. (We haven’t been able to introduce you to this concept yet- Indians not only BLATANTLY and OBNOXIOUSLY stare ALL the time, but the also love to whip out their phones and take pictures of us. Sometimes they try to do the sneak picture, other times they will boldly stop in front of us and stick their phone in our face. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, for some reason they just want a picture of a white person. Occasionally some people will ask for our picture, and when they ask we feel inclined to oblige. At first this was kind of bewildering to us when we started off in India, we wondered if people mistook us for movie stars, and I suppose it was sort of flattering at first, but now it is just plain annoying. I almost prefer the sneak pictures.) The girls obliged at first, but the problem is when you say yes to one person, it opens up the floodgates and every Indian within 50 feet wants to take a picture as well. Like I’ve always said, in India as a white person, if you stop for more than 5 seconds in one place, especially if you are engaging with an India, there will inevitably be a crowd of curious Indian bystanders surrounding you within 30 seconds. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. So when you add this to the fact to the for some reason Indians anyway feel entitled to take your picture, once you give your permission to one person they start lining up and dashing in for their turn. We start to feel like Santa Clause at the mall at Christmas time. Sam made the executive decision to break away after a couple of minutes, so the girls made a run for it. Honestly, it’s the only way to get away, otherwise you would be standing in the same place ALL DAY waiting for everyone to finish their pictures.
Other than the funny incidents the Amber Fort was interesting to see. We’ve seen quite a few forts in India at this point, it seems every big city has one, so at this point they are all starting to look the same. Probably the coolest part of this one though was its imposing manner on top of a hill blending in to the rocks at its base. The insides have great detailed architecture and paintings, with many large open courtyards and great landscaping. It’s not hard to imagine Indian royalty living here with people riding around the grounds on their elephants.
- The other funny thing happened when a monkey was guarding a trash can. There are monkeys all over the place in India, we almost ignore them at this point. Believe me, at first I was taking millions of pictures anytime I caught a glimpse. At this point though they remind me of squirrels in America, just living in the trees and occasionally sprinting across the roads. Dan decided to tease the monkey a bit by taking a step towards the trashcan, but when he got too close the monkey and it glared at him, while opening its mouth and showing its teeth. Even though they aren’t big, with teeth like that the monkeys can be very intimidating. We all laughed as well as some other tourists at this scene. I think the picture is included with the blog so take a look at it. This monkey took his trashcan guarding REALLY seriously!
It was mid-afternoon by the time we left the Amber Fort. We had not eaten lunch yet so I was starving as were the Austrians. We had our rickshaw drivers take us to one restaurant which had a bunch of tourist buses outside. We should have known this was a bad sign before we walked in, but we went in anyways. We looked at the menu and we all noticed how expensive it was. Now, you can certainly do India on the cheap side which many people do. I am talking dirt cheap. You can also do India where you pay a little more at some tourist sites, (which we like to call the skin tax- if you are white in India, you need to realize that everyone thinks you are rich, so the skin tax will apply in many places). Some people are more willing to accept this than others. Sam and I fully understand and begrudgingly accept the skin tax as it’s just the reality of travelling. This happens in many countries not just India, but it is very blatant in India. (Most attractions or historical sites will charge significantly more for a foreigner entrance fee than for an Indian. It’s a posted fact in all cities of India.)
This restaurant was charging too much of a skin tax for the Austrians, so we decided to go elsewhere. We went to another restaurant that was a real dive, but was much cheaper. Like with most things you pay for what you get. Sam couldn’t eat much and she was not interested in eating spicy food at all. Of course when she ordered Egg Fried Rice it came out spicy. The Austrians and I ordered Indian dishes with plain white rice and the rice was lukewarm at best. When the Austrians asked them to warm it up our waiter waggled his head, explained that they start cooking at 7:00am, and that maybe the rice would be warm “next time.” That led us to state that he would get a tip “next time.” I hope that translates in the blog because we found this very funny.
Our next trip involved going up to the Tiger Fort for the sunset. The fort is perched on top of a nearby mountain and provides fantastic views down to the city of Jaipur. Mostly people come here for the views, especially for the sunset view, rather than the fort itself.
This was an uphill drive, which meant that our rickshaw would not make it with six people. In the end only Dan had to hop on the other rickshaw that only had two other passengers and we all made it up the hill to the fort.
Along the way our drivers were singing Indian songs, then they asked us to sing some songs. I ended up singing “Faith” a combination of both the George Michael & Limp Bizkit versions, “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns N Roses, and busted out my rapping skills for “Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G. Sam busted out some “Call Me Maybe,” which the Indian guys really liked. I think they just liked it because a white girl was singing it. I think they were just laughing at how bad I was. At one point they started howling (literally howling) along with me.
They rapped some Indian rap song, which would have been cool if I knew what they were saying. Our driver won that rap battle.
We got up to the Tiger Fort and paid the entry fee to the restaurant to watch the sunset. We got our free tea and soda along with a beer, took some pictures, and then called it a day. We went back to the hotel to eat dinner and to make some Skype calls. Jaipur- Day 3- Elephant Festival
Day three started off with some breakfast then we met up with the Austrians along with our British friends, Kevin and Richard, whom we also met at the Tiger Reserve and who just arrived this morning. The six of us got into two rickshaws and then headed to the Pink City. Since we didn’t have much time yesterday to really explore the Pink City, we wanted to see more of the sites by foot.
Sam lead us on the walking tour that was listed in Lonely Planet. Along the way we stopped was to get some linen pants for white shirts for Holi. Holi is the festival of colors, so having a plain white palette of clothes is ideal.
The pants and shirts were pretty cheap at 150 rupees each (3 US Dollars), we all grabbed some clothes to get ruined for Holi and went on our way. Throughout the Pink City there were tons of people selling colored powder to be used for Holi. There was also quite a lot of dung patties, essentially dried cow shit probably just scraped up off the streets, that apparently were being sold for people to host their bonfires that night as a kick-off tradition to Holi.
We made one other significant stop at Hawal Mahal, which is known as the iconic building of Jaipur. Lonely Planet calls Hawa Maha “Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark”. Basically it’s a five story building fašade filled with windows covered in stone screen. This building allowed women who observed purdah to be able to watch the life and processions of the city without being seen themselves.
Of course when we went by there was construction work being on it with scaffoldings all over the place. Despite that fact, some Indian guy on the street offered us his rooftop across the street for a better view of the Hawal Mahal and the entire city.
We followed him upstairs and took some pictures from a third floor balcony. Of course he had a shop downstairs that he said we didn’t have to stop in, though we could if we wanted to. The girls wanted to go in, which meant we all went in. I did enjoy the Tiger Knife that they had, which had three different blades. The funny interaction that took place here was that the knife was very expensive, but they said they would trade me the knife for Sam. I thought about it for a second, but decided against it. This guy thought his joke was hilarious as he took it and ran with it. He then talked about how if Sam was his wife he would give her massages and they would have 100 children. He was fulfilling our quota for creepy Indian interactions for the day. Sam then took a look at a necklace which another guy told her would be 300 US Dollars. She said no to the necklace and told him that she didn’t have money for that he then made a comment, “Why not? Doesn’t your father have money?” Now, our story while traveling when asked about our jobs, is usually to reply that we are students. First of all, as westerners we were taken aback by how many Indians ask us in the course of normal conversation questions that they think of as typical small-talk, including our jobs, how much we got paid, if we were married, how many kids we had, etc. So we came up with a story for the shopkeepers, hotel owners, taxi drivers, etc (basically anyone who is only interacting with us because they want our money, which is most people in India), that will let us off the hook without too much explanation, and while implying that we are NOT the rich Americans that they inevitably take us to be.
Because of my gray hairs some people don’t believe us, so I say I got tired of working and went back to school to get a teaching degree for English Literature, Sam’s story is she went back to school to get a teaching degree for Accounting. We also tell them that we are traveling through India on our honeymoon. So Sam explains to this shop keeper that she didn’t have the budget to buy such an expensive necklace, adding some detail about being a student and having student loan debt (all to persuade him that she was not worth his time trying to make a sale)
which led him to ask, “What about your father? Doesn’t your father pay for school? Your father will buy you jewelry?” We found this idea quite amusing, that the thought of a young woman providing for herself without her father’s support seemed like such a foreign concept to them.
Around 3 pm we had all decided to meet to head to the Elephant Festival which started at 4. The Austrians were late as were the Brits. We had lined up our rickshaw drivers from the day before to give us a ride, but they didn’t show up. After talking to 5 or 6 rickshaws we found one that would take 6 people, which is kind of like piling people into a clown car. We got in along with the Austrians and scooped the Brits up on the way. Now Jaipur is famous for their annual Elephant Festival, which is always held the day before Holi (stay tuned for more of that). The Elephant Festival is known for it’s brightly painted and decorated elephants, elephant polo matches, human-vs-elephant tug of war, and of course tons of other fantastic performances surrounding the elephants. Basically it’s called the ELEPHANT festival for a reason; it’s all about the elephants. In fact, the entire reason why we had decided to spend Holi in Jaipur (versus any other Northern Indian city who would also somehow celebrate the day) was so that we could see the Elephant Festival the day before. Two festivals in two days- no other city in Rajasthan can boast this.
However, the Brits had read in the newspaper earlier that day that due to animal rights group complaints there would be no elephants at the Elephant Festival. Since this is India and nothing is like it seems, we thought this may be BS. Turns out it was true as we got to the polo/festival grounds and there were no elephants to be found. Once we pulled up to the grounds we realized that the name of the festival had suddenly been changed to “Holi Festival” and all posters/advertisements of the event curiously had all pictures of elephants missing.
There were also tons of white people which meant this was a tourist trap. Also, the seating arrangement was awful with the seating area declined down, so if you weren’t sitting in the front row you couldn’t see that well. All 6 of us were furious that there would not be any elephants and that we couldn’t see. We got up and walked to the other end of the Polo Ground so that we could at least see what was going on. The dancers and musicians in their costumes definitely didn’t seem to be as excited without their elephants, and seemed to be giving half-hearted efforts. It seemed that even the performers knew that the Elephant Festival with no elephants was a bust. After about an hour we decided to head back to our hotels to have a couple of drinks. We were all pissed at the outcome of this festival, and how the result of an Elephant Festival with no elephants was just a joke. We were not only disappointed by not getting to witness the famed Elephant festival and with the multitudes of elephants (a la Fantasia) all decorated and in one place together, but I also was pissed that the entire reason why we chose to come to Jaipur in the first place was in large part due to this Elephant Festival.
When we got back Sam went to the hotel room to lay down for a few hours as her stomach was still giving her problems, while I went out to grab some beers with the Austrians, Brits, and a couple of Germans that we picked up along the way. We went to the nearest liquor store which had large 650ml King Fisher beers for 90 rupees (like 1.80 US Dollars a beer). We all grabbed a couple then went out on the street to drink. The shop owners then told us we couldn’t drink on the street (since when are there rules in India
?), so we went back inside with our opened beers. We asked where to go and they pointed us to their basement bar. We went down into the basement and it was a real dive. First off, it wasn’t a bar it was really just a basement where people hung out. I had flashbacks to my days of drinking beers in Borto’s basement in high school and college. There were only a few plastic stools available, but we made due. We spoke with a few of the Indians down there who between sips of beer and spitting on the ground made conversation with us. The owners of the store/basement were telling us that the cops would show up in 10-15 minutes to shut it down, but I didn’t believe them. I thought they only reason they would show up is because 7 white people walked into a store and didn’t come out right away. We grabbed a couple more beers then went to the Austrians’ hotel (right beside our hotel) to drink on the rooftop terrace and to eat some food. I decided to go with a liquid dinner while others ate. Sam came and joined us to eat some soup and hang out for a bit. Kevin and I decided to go back to the liquor store to get some vodka as the beer was all gone. Somehow Kevin, Richard, and I polished off a whole bottle of vodka in an hour. This led to some interesting conversation, such as if you had to go to another planet, who are the five people in the world you would take with you, present company excluded. We were so drunk we couldn’t get through it all, but one consensus pick was Bear Grylls as he would help us survive. Kate Beckinsale and Jenna Jameson were also popular choices amongst the boys.
We set up a time of 9 am to meet the next morning, which I confirmed by asking about 15 times. Sam went to sleep while I passed out.Jaipur- Day 4- HOLI
Our final full day in Jaipur involved Holi, which would be the second Holi Festival Sam and I participated in. Holi is a Hindu festival, observed mostly in Northern India, that celebrates the beginning of Spring according to the lunar calendar. To celebrate Holi, also known as the “festival of colors” people playfully throw, touch or otherwise color each other with colored powder. We had participated in Holi in the small village of Barsana a week before
, which was crazy, so we were excited for this Holi, as we had friends with us this time around. Despite being very hungover I took a quick shower, ate some breakfast, and was ready by the 9 am time. While eating breakfast on the hotel’s rooftop restaurant the hotel owner showed up with bags of Holi color to spread around the breakfast eaters, followed by a rummer to add to the festival mood.
The Austrians were late as were the Brits. The Austrians showed up around 9:30, we waited for another 10 minutes for the Brits then took off without them. We weren’t sure if they were dead or alive based upon the amount we drank the night before. We took the rickshaw to the City Palace which is in the Pink City. We got off the rickshaw into what we thought was a ghost
town. Since it was a holiday all of the stores were closed and there weren’t many people on the street. Based upon what we saw in Barsana we thought it was going to be a mob scene. The only people we really saw were other tourists and roaming groups of teenage guys on motorcycles. Apparently since Holi is technically a holiday all shops and restaurants and tourist sites are closed for everyone to be off work. This didn’t dawn on us yesterday as we walked around the bustling Pink City, and we assumed that there would still be plenty of vendors open to sell us Holi colors.
Barsana Holi experience centered around the main temple we decided to make our way to the City Palace temple. This first temple was definitely a highlight of our Holi. There were tons of little kids there and many of them were very shy about putting the colors on us and had to be convinced to do it by their parents. It was very funny and a very nice experience as well. It was a laid-back family type atmosphere, a nice open environment where people were enjoying a low-key version of the Holi day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we had some other not so great experiences with Indian people. Once we left the temple we decided to roam around the now deserted streets near the City Palace to find some other Holi festivities to partake in.
While there were a lot less people here than Barsana, that didn’t stop Indian guys from being creeps. Part of the Holi Festival is that you throw colors on people, maybe give a handshake, pat on the back, and/or hug. Indians guys use this as a way to grab girls’ boobs, by putting powder on their face, then sliding their hands down to their boobs. This of course wasn’t the only way to cop a feel, and some of them got a little creative. To be fair not every single Indian guy was a total creep, some did only just touch respectfully and in the spirit of Holi. Though there were plenty of guys, especially the roaming groups of teenager boys, that were definitely using Holi as an opportunity to get close to, touch and sneak in a boob or butt graze. Babs and I were getting significantly more Holi attention than our boys were, and while we were trying to avoid any close contact with troublesome looking teenagers and keep a sense of humor about it, we did after a while get a bit jaded. The grabs/grazes were very subtle and sneaky, nothing too blatant, but it certainly was encroaching on our personal space (another foreign concept for Indians). Keep in mind that the Indian culture is very conservative on men and women dating, and probably 90% of the Indians we see out and about on a regular basis are males. We only really see Indian females in groups, a lot of time with their faces modestly covered, and mostly with children in tow. It doesn’t seem to us that Indian males and females coexist in casual social settings. Our theory is that since Indian males only interact with sisters and mothers in the home, with many of them having their own marriages arranged by their family at a relatively young age, they never really learn to befriend or respect women as their peers. Therefore females, especially white foreign women, are still a novelty to Indian men. Plus, with the Indian culture being as conservative as it is, and their perception of Western women to be much more loose and immoral than their own women (we can thank Hollywood for that), it makes a potentially dangerous setting for Indian males to be able to interact with western women. Honestly we are doing a lot of explaining/complaining about the male Indian harassment factor, but regardless we did manage to make our Holi experience fun and colorful. (As you can hopefully tell from our pictures.) was great to interact with so many Indians in fun and playful way.
This got old after a little while as my head was about to explode and I was going to punch someone. I shoved a few people and threw one guy up against a car to scare some other nearby guys, which worked at times. We saw a sign for a tourist Holi celebration at a hotel which at first we thought was lame. Who wants to come to a foreign country to partake in their holiday
only to spend it with fellow westerners?
But after an hour or so of boob grabbing we decided it was time to head to the tourist festival. What we call the “tourist festival” run by Rajasthan Tourism was at a nice hotel in the hotel district, and was set up like an outdoor dance party on its lawn. It was predominantly foreigners.
This was outdoors and it involved a lot of music and dancing. It was a nice way to kill an hour before we left to find something to eat. All of the restaurants were closed so we went back to our hotel for some food around 1:30 pm. At this point the heat was wearing on us and we were about Holi-ed out. My main disappointment was just not finding anything to DO for Holi in Jaipur. There was no specific place or time hosting festivities as far as we could tell, and wandering around the deserted streets ended up being anti-climatic. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoyed the experience of Holi, but have to agree with the advice we’ve heard along the way- Holi is best experienced in smaller community type settings as opposed to large cities.
The four of us went up to our hotel’s rooftop restaurant and saw plenty of other tourists covered with Holi colors. This was like a UN meeting as we met people from Australia, Poland, Brazil, France, Germany, US, etc. Many of them came back to the hotel for the same reason we did, mainly they were tired of the harassment from the Indian men, it was too hot to continue walking around, and basically we were just Holi-ed out. The handful of females in the UN group had exactly the same experiences with the boob grazes that Babs and I did. Somehow this made me feel a bit better.
We had a couple of beers and hung out for a bit. One funny story that came up was Sam overheard a nearby American couple saying they met on Match.com. She went to tell them we met on Match.com as well and found out their names were also Sam and Eric. We all got a good laugh out of that and other Americans were saying that we should all make a commercial together. We took it easy for the rest of the day, with showering being quite a long drawn out process which included multiple hair washes and a ton of soap to get out all of the color that was caked on throughout the day. The worst was the powder that somehow got wet from our sweat and literally stained our skin. There was no soaping off these areas and it wouldn’t be for a few days for all the color to finally wear off. Eric threw away his clothes from the day, and though my white Holi shirt started off pretty I knew there was no hope of salvaging it, so it got tossed also. Our overall Jaipur experience (scale 1 through 10): 6
Jaipur was a pretty cool city to see, though due to the Elephant Festival being a bust and our Holi experience being underwhelming and somewhat annoying, we ended up disappointed. Luckily our Holi experience in Barsana was great (look for the Mathura blog post coming soon), which alleviated some of the high expectation of a Jaipur Holi.
For more Jaipur pictures, check out our Jaipur Picasso album