Thursday, February 19, 2009
Pink City Days in Rajasthan
I’m in Jaipur, the Pink City of Rajasthan India.
After a riotous few days in Mumbai, racing around the city in auto rickshaws and catching up with old friends at a conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and being hassled by immature coworkers, I am finally on vacation in India. It’s long been my dream to come to India and I’m just disappointed that I can’t spend more time here. Traveling for work is completely different to coming someplace to travel. I squeezed in a few hours each night to see a couple of things in Delhi and Mumbai but I wish I had the time to see all the different provinces of India better.
First impressions of Jaipur:
·I arrived at eight am on a small commuter flight. The streets were wide and lined with trees from the airport. That combined with the men’s traditional dress and the 1940s styling of the taxi made me feel as if I were stepping back in time.
·My room at the lovely Madhuban guesthouse wasn’t ready but I sat in the gracious restaurant by the pool in a window seat and drank tea for an hour or so and then slept in the canopy bed for a few hours.
·After a drive to the “New Gate” of the old city, I walked through the streets and saw an elephant carrying a bride, three or four camels carrying carts, numerous cows, brightly dressed women in saris, and too many young men trying to sell me gems, rickshaw rides, textiles, and the like.
· As the sun lowered in the sky, I watched the famous pink city glow in the fading sun and saw a movie being shot at the City Palace. No Shah Rukh Khan, sadly. He's my current Bollywood crush.
· At twilight, I watched a bunch of local young men play cricket in a lot until my presence became a distraction and I had to jump in a rickshaw.
· I went to a Hindu temple and watched everyone pray and sing while draped in garlands of marigolds.
· I ate Masala peanuts - roasted peanuts mixed with chopped onion, cilantro, tomato, lime juice, chili, and spices with a Carlsburg beer and some garlic naan for dinner.
· I rode a bicycle rickshaw “Indian Helicopter” back to the hotel, seriously underestimating how far away it was and got stuck in a traffic jam with my pashmina wrapped around my face and watched three Rajasthani brass bands compete to see who could play the loudest over three different weddings right next to each other. Another elephant went by and several silver decorated horsedrawn carriages. Wedding mania!
· I ordered my favorite sweet lime soda and turned on my iPod to sit on the balcony of my guesthouse and relax before bed.