A drive through northwest India
03.07.2008 - 03.09.2008 85 °F
We’re off to the ‘purs. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur – all gorgeous cities in Rajasthan – a state known as the “Land of Kings”. We could have spent more than a month discovering this state, it’s wonderfully colorful people and more history than we know what to do with. Rajasthan is a place of storybooks – camels, music, colorful turbans and saris and the food…oh the food….
Our adventure in Rajasthan starts in Jaipur after a long drive from Agra. The countryside was beautiful and watching the villages as we zipped by was like watching a movie from oh so many years ago – women worked the fields wearing beautifully colorful saris, while the men sat around playing cards and drinking chai masala. Our driver, Narender, explained this is very common in villages, as the mans “work” is to talk about politics and other important business, usually done over a nice cup of delicious chai. I’m sure there is a lot more to it, but we saw nothing else. What a life!
Beautiful Indian women with mom.
We arrived in Jaipur in one piece, after a few alarmingly close calls playing chicken with oncoming cars, cows, mottos and the like. Like everywhere else we have been in India, wide eyed Indians follow our every move. Somewhere in their history they lost the ability to be conspicuous and they stare blankly and openly at you. It’s not in a bad way – I think they are just curious. But, like everywhere else in India, one smile their way rewards you with gleaming, wide toothed (and sometime no toothed) vibrant smile back. Especially the young women – so shy, so curious, but so very friendly and giggly.
Jaipur is known as the “pink city” meaning welcome. The monkeys roaming the streets and easily climbing buildings and trees made it that much more magical. Our guide, Alok, told us that the common theme in Jaipur for many many years has been and will continue to be to “enjoy life and pleasure”. We learned the meaning of bhoga = physical enjoyment and yoga = perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. This was very apparent in the City Palace, decorated throughout with gold, silver and precious stones, rooms full of wonderful Indian carpets and overstuffed pillows where the king spent a lot of time smoking opium and enjoying his many queens and concubines next to a meditation room, used several times per day.
After, we escaped the heat by stopping at a juice stand under a shady tree and ordering fresh squeezed OJ and ate carrots (they are huge and red here – really sweet and great to munch on!). We also had some pakora (fried lentil powder and spices) as we people watched. I looked around at that moment and saw that people looked so happy. Everyone smiling, kids playing stick ball, others with marbles, women carrying baskets on their heads, selling beautiful bangles and pashminas, men talking on phones, others drinking chai and playing cards – all with a hint of a smile on their faces. These people are happy and so was I.
That night we went to Chocki Dan, a theme park of sorts and had dinner, dressed like Rajasthany women and got photos taken, got henna on our hands and a tarot card reading. A kind faced palm reader, with a turban and all, told mom that she would live to be very old, that her kids are well, but live very far away from her. That she will move along steadily in her spiritual journey and that she will find love soon – this year. He told me that I will live until 85 and I will have good luck through my life. That I am on a long journey. I can work overseas and be very successful, but that I’m lazy and need to learn to work (ha!). I will be married by 32 and have three kids (um…what?) and will have a long and happy marriage. All this for 40 rupees (which is about $1) – interesting!
We’re off to Jodhpur tomorrow morning – another 7 hour, nail biting drive with Narender – our trusted and wonderfully sweet chauffer who understands little of what we say. But a combination of some very choppy English, sign language, patience and quite a few laughs has done the trick.
Namaste for now!