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I <3 Jaipur

December 2, 2017

My driver to Jaipur was quick to ask me about Trump.  They all are.  But then he asked me if I liked Mrs. Clinton.  Very much, I said.  Oh, he replied, she is my very good friend.  Then he pulled a photo of her visit to India with Chelsea while she was first lady, and there he was beaming next to her.  If he was a good enough driver for Hilary, he’s good enough for me! (no including the frequent opening his door at 80klm/hour to spit tobacco and his desire to stop every hour extending the drive significantly.).

Jaipur, the Pink City.  Everyone I spoke to who had been to this part of the world raved about Jaipur – how charming it was, how sweet.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but probably Savannah or Charleston or something.  Jaipur is like every city in India – crowded and dirty with street vendors and crazy traffic and animals roaming the streets.  And it is SO charming and sweet!

When we pulled up to a crumbling boarded up building, and Ram, my driver said, your hotel, my heart sunk a bit.  But next door was a small building with an imposing door, and I was bouyed again.

After a quick rest stop, I headed out to the market by tuk tuk.  It was loud and chaotic and every thing I love and fear.  I will not buy anything I repeated in my head.  Of course I wouldn’t. I’d done a little research and learned that a supplier for ABC Carpet was very near my hotel and I’d been saving my holiday spurge for them.   They did not disappoint.

That night I went to the rooftop restaurant in my hotel and was quickly approached by a Texan, already quite drunk who asked to join me.  He was in town for his niece’s wedding to an Indian man and had decided to see a bit of the country.  He proceeded to share a litany of complaints about the food and people and then asked me to give him 500 rupees.  I took my dinner in my room.

The next day I met Sandeep, my guide for Jaipur and he took me to the stunning Amber Fort, where I opted out of the elephant ride and hiked up to the gate instead.  Sandeep gave me lots of time to wonder on my own and around one corner, I waited behind a group of Germans to enter a small  corridor.  A guard watching me waved me his way and headed down a far path beyond a velvet rope.  I followed at first thinking he was bringing me to the same place the germans were headed and then realizing as we started up a tight stairway that I was on my own with him.  We climbed a couple floors and came out to a balcony empty of people and with a stunning view of the city.  I didn’t have any money with which to tip him – it was now clear that’s what we were doing – and I quickly headed down thanking him and telling I had to get back to my group.  I passed a group of japanese tourists and said “go with him – it’s amazing” Hopefully they tipped him well.

The Water Palace is floating in the middle of a man made lake and can only be accessed by boat (but is closed to the public) but the walk along the lake was lovely.  We stopped to watch some men feed the fish.  Sandeep explained it was good karma to feed the fish or cows so often people would do that.  I said it would be better karma to feed all the hungry people on the street.  He looked at me confused and smiled like I hadn’t been snarky at all.

City Palace, where the royal family of Rajasthan live to this day, was opulent and functional.  I saw several folks with whom I’d watched the sunset over the Taj Mahal several days earlier and asked Sandeep to take me away from the tourist area.  First stop shopping, despite my saying I didn’t want to.  He gave me an attitude adjustment by saying that of course they try to sell, that is their job, don’t be angry at them for it.  Very wise.

I looked at the elaborate gemstone jewelry, lovely saris, intricate leatherware and made it out without spending any money.

Lunch was a spice aloo gobhi (my favorite in any New York Indian restaurant and especially at the Bombay Bar and Grill in the Berkshires – the best restaurant in the Berkshires).

I spent the afternoon walking the streets alone and feeling particularly chuffed every time I successfully crossed one.

In the morning, I went for a quick walk before my flight to Mumbai and straight into a wedding procession.  Women with vessels on their heads and yellow robes sang and danced down the street, smiling and waving to me as they went by.  Men followed a bit behind, never looking m way.

An Über to the airport and seat companions from Milton Ma, confirmed the world really is flat.  Now to Mumbai.


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