In the pink...

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
Trip End Apr 30, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Monday, January 23, 2006

Jaipur, the closest of the desert towns to Delhi is famous for it's pink walled buildings. Pink is the traditional colour of hospitality in Rajasthan, but it seems that no-one has told that to the touts and tuk tuk drivers here!
People here don't ask me where my husband is, but instead 'where is my tour group'?

I caught the Shatabi express train here from Delhi, which I was facing with some trepidation (my first Indian train journey)! but as the Shatabi express is all first class, it is like travelling in a little insulated bubble. You are constantly brought food and tea and all the major stations are announced with advance warning. It was very easy, but not half as entertaining as the journeys I experienced in Sri Lanka. Still, there's plenty more to come!

The first day I found a small modern art gallery who were able to recommend an art suppliers and then wandered through the pink city looking for it. After a slight detour via the principles office in the Rajasthan School of Art, I found the shop. It was open fronted under the colonnade and run by two elderly Hindu men who carefully found the right boxes amongst the neat stacks of other boxes , and even more meticulously added up my purchases of brushes, nibs and Indian ink to the grand total of 60 rupees (about 90p).

It was fascinating to walk through the bazaars and look at all the everyday items on sale, somehow they don't look so everyday here. There are shops selling the glittery things and garlands for festivals. I asked what some strange poles with four spikes on the end were for and was told that they are 'used in marriage'. Hopefully not against each other!

The main road to the old pink city is horrendous, it's wide and crammed full of many streams of different traffic as can (and sometimes can't) fit in. There are no proper pavements, so you walk along the edge along with great piles of rubbish and grey dust, but you have to look out for all the motorbikes and cycles which cycle along on the inside against the traffic because they've given up trying to get to the proper side of the road! Crossing the road requires immense concentration. I made the mistake of shadowing an elderly turbaned man pushing his bike in front of the traffic, his sense of timing was appalling and he kept starting just as the traffic came so it was all beeping and trying to drive around him. I don't think a giggling tourist helped his concentration.

In the evening I sat on the roof terrace and watched all the square kites that were being flown from roof tops across the city.

While on the bus to the Rajput stronghold of Amber,I passed 13 painted elephants, just walking down the street! They were all going in the opposite direction, so I have been wondering if I missed a big celebration?

The bus journey was fun as it was lovely to look at the women's colourful sparkly saris close up.
Amber Palace is quite incredible, with a multitude of rooms, connecting corridors and stairways with high walkways and turret type things overlooking the desert below. The mirror and glass mosaics were fantastic.
Amber Fort which is above the palace was a similar maze of rooms, all very exciting to explore as there are absolutely no signs. There's a free rajasthani puppet show hidden in one of the rooms, I wasn't all that impressed until I realised that the incredibly high pitched singing was coming from the male drummer seated at the front. I wonder if he was a eunuch?
Two chocolate brown camels were at the fort to give tourist rides. I sat down to draw them and soon there was a bigger crowd of people around me than around the camels! It's hard to keep drawing when people want to shake your hand or kiss their babies (I didn't want to give them my cold).
Walking back down to the main road a few Indian families and their children chatted to me, one shy girl said 'hello sister, what is your name'. Which made me feel quite young for a few hours!

Jaipur is quite hard work to get around independently. All the tuk tuk drivers want you to hire them for the day so it entails a big discussion (argument) to get them to take you to just where you want to go. The cycle rickshaw drivers will pick you up and then not be able to work out where to go and will just drop you anywhere and demand too much money. My most recent driver said his name was John Travolta and could he be my second boyfriend?

Anyway, I've been delayed in Jaipur longer than planned as since my cold has got better but my stomach has been revolting...

You may be wondering why this is more verbose than usual well, the internet is cheaper here and I've decided to write before I try to upload photos as it takes so long to get the pictures up and then I'm too bored to write anything! so check back later for photos
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