Smelly, dirty and noisy - India at its best

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

By the time we arrived in Jodphur we were all in need of a swim in the pool and a few hours of R&R. Temperatures in Nagaur had been into the mid-40s and must have been at least 38-40 degrees in the desert.

Our hotel in Jodphur was right in the centre of the old town so we arrived in true Indian style, crammed in an auto-rickshaw, jostling through the traffic and past all the market stalls.  We missed an amazing photo opportunity:  a camel pulling a cart down the main road amongst tons of auto-rickshaws, mopeds, cars and the ubiquitous cows.  Only in India….

The fort in Jodphur is one of the most spectacular in India, truly enormous and dominating the landscape for miles.  The maharajas of Jodphur have also traditionally been amongst the richest.  It provided a good morning's entertainment, and Zach and Jamie enjoyed doing the audio-tour, looking at antique swords, guns, palanquins (the sedan chairs used to carry maharajas and their queens) and elephant saddles from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Back to the hotel for the kids, but Brad , Manjeet and I walked back down from the fort towards the market, stopping off at a wholesale textile warehouse, consisting of 8 floors of material literally heaped on the floor and stacked on shelves.  The wonderfully persuasive  and flamboyant salesman proceeded to show us all the things his factory make for the western designer market:  amazing silk duvet covers for Amani Casa, scarves for Louis Vuitton, pashminas for Hermes etc etc. He had obviously watched far too many Hollywood films like "Zoolander" as he demonstrated how to tie a scarf in various ways.  The prices were truly staggering – items that cost thousands of pounds in Europe, sold at wholesale price for anything between 40 and 120.  No wonder the interior designers and fashion houses flock to India in their droves. 

First stop today was a trip to the market to buy Zach some bamboo and matting, to build a camp with at the next destination.  Benjamin attracted a huge amount of attention as usual:  a photographer from the Times of India newspaper, stopped to try to get a picture of the blonde baby in a basket.  He promised it would appear in the paper, but we have yet to see it!

Next stop was the memorial to the Maharajah Jaswant Singh who died in 1889.  It proved a great place for the kids to stretch their legs, and us to get some good views of the fort.  Then onto the highlight of Jodhpur for some……McDonalds.

I'm not sure who was more excited Georgie or the kids, or me.  Georgie could not hide the huge beaming smile, which got even bigger when she spotted the pick and mix sweet stall.   What an unexpected bonus! Of course we all had to take advantage and load up, western style sweets being relatively hard to come by.  And we all tucked into our McDonalds icecream sundaes.

After lunch Brad and I took a wander down the main shopping street in search of pyjamas for Jamie and samosas for Brad.  Without Manjeet we were definitely hassled by more people, and Brad made the cardinal error of giving one of the street children a samosa:  sure enough we had a whole little gang of them following us most of the length of the street.   There are definitely more street children and desperately poor people in Jodhpur trying to scratch out a living collecting rubbish, begging etc.  But its safe to say that its no where near as bad as we expected it to be….or maybe Sao Paulo just prepared us for this kind of experience.

A quick handover of childcare duties and Brad and Georgie headed back to the fort to do a zip wire trip which by all accounts was fantastic, and a wonderful way to see the fort and blue city.  Unbelievably Georgie chatted to 2 other girls doing it who were at Northumbria University, the place from which she has just graduated.

This evening saw the opening line-up for the Jodhpur Riff festival which has been running for about 5 years, and is sponsored by the Maharaja of Jodphur and, amongst others, Mick Jagger.  It’s an event heralding Rajasthani folk music and dancing, together with some international influences.   We gathered in the market square by the clock tower with other foreigners and Indians to watch some of the acts, which were fairly colourful and entertaining.  One in particular caused much hilarity amongst the mostly male Indian crowd.  I asked Manjeet a couple of times what he was saying, but Manjeet would only offer that it was "romantic poetry".  Somehow I don’t think so……not many of the women were laughing!

But the festival again provided some good people watching:  men sat on the top of the market stalls watching from above, street children watched alongside well-dressed middle aged Americans, and the stampede to get out of the market square was quite entertaining: the local kids were harassing the cows and making them charge through the exit of the old town, Brad had to bundle me out of the way of a charging cow which went on to butt poor Manjeet in the bottom.

We came away from Jodphur having enjoyed the hustle and bustle and feeling that we had got into the swing of India a bit more.  It’s a pretty dirty, dusty and smelly town, with cows everywhere (which started to stretch my sense of humour), and a fair few pigs and rats foraging amongst the rubbish.  But the people watching was fun:  men sipping tea under the gateway to the markets, toddlers playing in the dust, women choosing fabrics for saris in market stalls, and people gathering to do their shopping or just have a snack in one of the samosa stalls. 

Georgie’s boyfriend had commented to her on the constant smell that always lingers in India.  Up until Jodphur we had not really experienced this, staying in mostly nice places and also lots of rural towns, with fewer people living in them.  Now we know what he means:  a constant smell of cows, heat rising, spices and sweaty bodies……nice!

On to Shahpura Bagh tomorrow  and a more rural peaceful experience again en route to Ranthambore Tiger reserve.
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nick_matthews on

Well you certainly experienced the high lights of Jodhpur - love the zip wire photo Georgie. Great shots of The Fort Brad. I know what you mean about fast food western style - i has 2 Burger Kings back to back after leaving India in Bangkok airport - Yum!! Cheers Nick

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