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Feb 9th: Jaipur and Elephants

and silk

sunny 78 °F

Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is a big, metropolitan city with a population of 6.7MM. There are actual stores here, rather than stalls, and there are restaurants rather than stalls and there are coffee shops, – well, tea shops, and they are mostly stalls. The traffic is no different, even without the cows. I am convinced that there are no traffic laws in India. However, there is one pedestrian “law” that will save your life. If you decide to cross the street, do not change your mind, do not slow down, just GO. The drivers won’t slow down for you but they will assume that you will continue on the same trajectory and they will miss you. Otherwise, you’ll be dead.

While we’re on the subject of behavior, I need to talk about the hawkers. All day today, in and around the various sights we saw, we were surrounded by people hawking souvenir crap. They don’t just approach you, they nearly block your path as you try to walk by. They are holding postcards, small brass items, wood carvings, jewelry, blah-blah-blah, and they follow you and talk to you for many steps until they finally give up. But if you so much as acknowledge their existence, you are their official target. It is hard to be so rude as to completely ignore that someone is talking to you, but you really have to. One of the ladies could not bring herself to “be rude” and she insisted that saying “no thank you” is enough. Well, every time there was a swarm of hawkers to walk through, she seemed to attract most of them. Thankfully a few days in India has hardened her. She survived today.

Today I rode an elephant. It was not as bad as riding a camel, but it is still something I don’t ever have to do again. After the ride, one of the ladies cracked me up when she said, “I have never been so happy to get off anything in my life.” The ride was part of getting up to an 11th century fort and palace complex which was the walled capital of Rajasthan ‘back in the day’. Once again we were seeing ruins of what used to be kings’ courts and harems and we discussed the architecture. I am beginning to lose interest in old forts and I can tell by my itinerary that I have a few more to go. However, within this fort is a palace with walls of little mirrors. It is being restored so you can see how beautiful it once was.

Thank goodness we did not have to ride elephants down the hill. We got in jeeps. That was a much more comfortable. Onward to the carpet and textile showroom where the manufacture of rugs and the dying of cloth is demonstrated and then you are ushered into the sales floor where there are about as many salesmen as there are customers. I knew I wasn’t going to buy a carpet there but I did want to look at the silks. Of course, I was adopted immediately and shown a million patterns and colors. I finally chose, they took my measurements, and they will deliver my custom made silk tunic to my room later this evening. Cool, huh?

After lunch we visited yet another old building, but not as old as the fort. This one is the City Palace – the home of what remains of royalty here. (There really isn’t royalty in India anymore but if your family held the title before royalty was abolished, you are allowed to call yourself royal and you are treated as such.) By this time, we were getting a bit weary and the museum part of the City Palace (mostly containing paintings of old rulers) held little interest. We practically flew through it.

Tomorrow is another travel day. This was a short stay in Jaipur. I would have had fun wandering the streets here for a day, but alas, there is no time.

Posted by Follow Carol 07:38 Archived in India

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