Jaipur was so much more for me than just a collection of sights. Both times I visited, I experienced some pretty intense stuff. Here is a more personal look at my time in the pink city.
Karl and I, were distinctly aware that this was only the first week of our five month trip. We were trying to scrimp on every penny. Our hostel was almost three miles away from the City Palace, but instead of paying the small sum required for a tuk tuk or pedicab, we decided to walk it; a stupid thing to do.
We started walking in the 35 degree heat and soon realised that we were very tired from our overnight train, and weirdly hungry. We agreed to stop for lunch somewhere but nothing seemed to be open in the backstreets we were traversing. After forty minutes of disgruntled shuffling, we found a small shop and sat outside eating Oreos and glugging the wonderfully orange coloured (and chemically flavoured) Mirinda.
When we neared the pink city, we even pretended to get money out of an ATM just to enjoy its air conditioned booth for a few minutes. By the time we arrived, even though it was only 3 miles, we were hot and stroppy. Note to selves, maybe we should just pay for these things.
No, this is not a typo of the word grapes! I really mean gropes. Passing through the main gate, traffic was squeezed into the walled section and the city came to life. There were people everywhere and the streets were packed with shops. The pavement was under the overhang of the buildings second floor and separated from the road by a raised curb and columns at regular interval. That meant that the humanity was squeezed too.
As we walked, we had to go single file. I was half a step behind Karl. Men passed by me and threw their arms out, elbow first, to run across my chest. It was so quick that every time it happened, the guy was gone before I had a chance to complain.
I told Karl what was happening and he didn’t seem to believe me, but by this time, my boobs were starting to get a bit sore. I told Karl that I was going to walk in front of him, and within one minute it happened again….”See!?”
By now I was in a bit of a tizz. Honestly, I threw a bit of a BF. I was passing though a spinning gate at the Amber Fort and the people stopped it as a joke. I whacked my head and had “a bit of a moment”. We wandered up to the fort, and deciding that we couldn’t afford the entrance fee, sat in the courtyard. People approached us with postcards and other trinkets to sell. We refused them politely, but I was still feeling stressed out. A young man approached us and tried to shake my hand. I was so wound up that i refused. He looked dejected and started to walk away towards a large group of young adults. I realised what a sceptic I’d been and chased after him.
The group was made up of friends from Rajasthan University on a day out. They weren’t going into the fort either, but instead we all planned to walk up the hill to the Tiger Fort. It was hot, very hot, and steep, very steep, but the company was curious, friendly and kept us chatting away merrily. They were studying biology and so they were incredibly clever. They even decided to give us, what they called, a basic test as we puffed our way up.
Up at the Tiger Fort we gazed out across the city and chatted some more. We caught the bus back towards the walled city. They gave us a great suggestion for dinner and we parted ways with happy waves. I made a resolution not to let the small number of bad experiences colour the potentially great ones.
The Tuk Tuk Driver
We caught a tuk tuk home from dinner and the driver offered to take us around to many other city sights the following day for 200 rupees, a bit of a bargain. In the morning we climbed in and took off. The driver mentioned going a market, we said no. We went to the Albert Hall and the Monkey Temple. All day he kept pushing the market visit but we courteously told him that we didn’t want to. After the full day, we returned to our hostel. Clearly furious that he hadn’t had a chance to make any commission, he demanded more money. We didn’t give it to him, but we didn’t expect him to take us to the station either. It was a day of compromise.
The Hostel Owner
On our second night in Jaipur, we wanted to eat a little something for dinner at our hostel. The owner insisted that we sit up on the roof. He dragged out two chairs and a table and began fussing around us. He desperately tried to light a candle but it wasn’t lighting, he persevered but it just wouldn’t happen. We told him to sit and chat with us instead.
The owner, whose name is lost in the sands of time, was such an inspiring guy. He had bought the property and was so keen to make it a great hostel. He wanted to create a proper roof terrace to give it a focal area and he was describing all the work he wanted to have done. That man represented the amazing spirit of modern India and I really hope he has done well. I hope that I can show this kind of spirit in the things I do.
The Dreaded Delhi Belly
The second time I visited Jaipur I was struck with Delhi Belly. Karl and I infact. We had taken a night train from Udaipur and about half an hour after we reached the hotel, it happened. After a cheap hostel and a night train, this was our big treat. We were travelling with my mum and I thought it would be fun to try all the different standards of Indian travel. Thank goodness I did!
Karl and I spent all day running between the bed and the bathroom of our luxurious room. There were nasty points where we had to share the bathroom, not our finest moment, but one we can share in. Mum sat up on the roof reading and listening to the radio.
The following day, I dragged myself out of bed to go on a city tour with my mum. We decided to spring for a fancy AC car (and beg him to stop at a pharmacy so i could buy some imodium-alike). I ended up having a wonderful day with my mum, and it taught me to push through. There is still so much world to see and I will do my best to do so. Resilience is a virtue, whether it is sharing a small en suite with your vomiting partner, or shaking and shivering your way around a city to spend some quality time with your mum.
I learned many lessons in the pink city, mostly about myself. What an amazing place.