We’re up early again this morning- well, some of us are up super early- Nicole isn’t acclimatizing well to the time change..when I get up at 5:30 I see Nicole has been liking my social media posts at 3am….that’s not a good sign. I’ve been forcing myself to stay up until midnight and get up at 5am-ish, and so has Nicole mostly, but it isn’t working as well for her as it is for me. Every body has its way of dealing with jet-lag. Apparently Nicole’s body’s way is by saying, screw it-I’ll decide, and just giving up. That is really going to suck later today.
We meet up and walk down for breakfast and notice the little shop we bought our candle holders at is closed today- clearly they retired to the Goa coast after our little visit yesterday.
We have the usual breakfast of fried potatoes and fried potatoes and a side of fried potatoes. We take out our vinegar of course and our waitress (the same temptress that is trying to steal my husband) quickly comes over and says, “what’s that?”. we tell her and she does the cutest little head bob and moves on. We talk about how much we LOVE how un-apologetically curious these people are. They don’t do the thing we do-where we assume things and more often then not are wrong. They ask. period. We have been asked many times where we are from. If it is cold there. If we’ve ever eaten Camel meat. If we are husband and wife. etc. And NEVER with any judgement. Just plain Curiosity. I love that.
We finish up breakfast and board the bus, taking up our usual trunk monkey position at the back of the bus. Today we leave Delhi and drive to Jaipur, about 265 km south west of Delhi. We are told by Cowboy Sam that this drive can take anywhere from 5-8 hours. He explains that we are on IST. India Standard time-however he says this actually stands for India Stretchable Time. Because the time between city’s depends heavily on traffic and cows. Yes cows. They can really mess with rush hour if they decide to stand in the middle of the road, and the Hindi population wont move them, and don’t like for anyone else to either. So we pray for no cows (that’s new….) and off we go. But we’re prepared for this journey. We have snacks and I have my computer for blogging. And yesterday we asked Cowboy Sam if he could arrange for us to have some beers for the drive, because Canada. He says sure! Asks us how many we would like. We say 3. He says no problem- then we explain we meant each. He says OHH…okay….We’ll stop on the way back to the hotel, with a wink. The South African of the group hears this little plan and wants in on the action because, South Africa. So the number goes up to a couple dozen and we have ourselves a bus party. So as I said, we are prepared for this. And after getting checked out and many Namaste’s we are off.
So yes the plan was to blog, but this drive is fascinating. We drive through Delhi city, with all its people and cars and traffic, 9-12 lane highway leading us out of the city. Sam says that there are MANY deaths here per year from traffic accidents- in the millions- mainly due to the fact that there are no emergency road side services here. If your hurt you better hope there’s a cow with a doctorate nearby, because otherwise you are going to have to rely on the kindness of the person who hit you, and Sam says that most don’t want anything to do with the legalities of that-but that’s slowly changing as the government recently decided to pass a law that if you help someone after a traffic accident and bring them to the hospital- there will be a no questions asked policy. The police will not be involved and you will not be asked your name or involvement. He said that this has cut down on the deaths, but it is slow going-most are untrusting of this rule and still very hesitant, so most involved in these accidents die of blood loss before they ever get to the hospital-of completely preventable deaths. We all put on our seatbelts and shake like puppies on the way to the vet.
After barmp-ing our way through Delhi we slowly settle into the Rajasthan country side. I don’t think anywhere between Delhi and Jaipur there’s a break in people and shops. The difference between the two area’s is more subtle…the further we get from Delhi the more livestock we see living comfortably with people. The first thing we see is cows as promised. Just sitting being cow-y. in the middle of streets and on the side of roads. Sam says that although the Hindi do consider them sacred, the more practical reason that they are kept so well is that they are real money makers. The dung is used as fuel-fire starters-so the dung is gathered, made into perfect pucks, dried in the sun and sold. Literally “do you want to buy this crap?”. Then the urine is used for fertilizer. Apparently it is the best fertilizer that you can find-and it allows the poor to grow their own food. Then the milk also brings money. When the cow stops giving milk it is no longer considered useful, however, it is still too costly to have a cow die in your possession-as there are strict laws both federally and religiously about what you must do to kill and share a cow, so most just let them loose, and they live among the humans. Sleeping along the side of the road or causing cowie havoc by sleeping in the streets. Then there is the widely accepted belief that the death of a cow is unlucky. This was strengthened when Nepal had an earthquake a few years back, directly following a festival that has traditionally saw the sacrificing of thousands of cows for feasting. This was seen as a sign of disfavor from god, so it is now NOT acceptable to kill cows even as far north as Nepal.
So yeah, cows are the first animal we see, but along the journey and directly by the side of the road we see Camels, both working and just camel-ing. We see pigs, and monkeys. Goats and Antelope and buffalo. Its like the wild freakin kingdom. At one point the bus is stopped because we are clocked speeding by the police. While we simply STOP THE BUS IN FULL TRAFFIC and go back and take care of the speeding ticket, we see to our left a goat climbing a tree, a cow standing on the median, and a few Antelope running from a large white tiger (I made that last part up. It just felt right). I feel like Bush Gardens just had its way with my vacation. All the while being honked at because we are in the middle of the road. Now I know why Sam was alllll about letting us get that beer.
We stop at a rest stop about half way through….we have left the Delhi Belly behind…and we’re rounding the corner to the Jaipur Diaper situation. We walk in and are met at the bathroom door by a beautiful young woman who hands us one napkin as we enter. one. napkin. I can hear the men laughing. The drive has been bumpy with a lot of sudden stops and quick turns- so i’m feeling just a little motion sick and fighting to keep breakfast down. The break does me good, plus I took a 1/4 of a gravol…because you can’t throw up if your unconscious. Gary tries to tell me the same applies to Imodium. But i assure him it doesn’t….you absolutely CAN poop unconscious, so we have a serious talk about never trusting Indian gas. He doesn’t get what I mean, but Nicole does, and she makes a mental note to pack extra bottoms for him tomorrow….and crush more Imodium up in his drinks.
We make it to our hotel after 6 hours of driving (not bad considering we basically drove it like we stole it through a 40 degree zoo all morning) and have free time to explore the hotel and go to the pool. We realize quickly that we are basically staying at that hotel from the “marigold Hotel”. Its pink and white and very ornate-and after we pay for a nice upgrade, we have rooms that look like they are straight out of a movie, 4 poster bed, ornate furniture with marble columns in the ridiculously large bathroom and lots of beautiful wooden closets, with a private sitting area directly outside our room. Perhaps if we can convince each other its okay to be naked together in India, we can enjoy the deck…..its only 42 degrees…….
We quickly dump off the luggage and get in our bathing suits, forgoing lunch for the comfort of the cool pool- and it is perfection. Its in the middle of the hotel and almost snuggled away in a little cave between the pretty pink walls of the hotel, but both shade and full sun, and cold water. We lounge and swim for a few hours, getting contraband booze…India is in the middle of an election-and for the 48 hours before voting in each jurisdiction, there are rolling liquor blackouts. And we’ve arrived during the second day of one in Jaipur. After we broke this to the boys, and revived them with cold compresses, we had resigned ourselves to a dry day, but our bellboy is very accommodating and as long as we promise to finish the beers in the pool and not the garden, he is happy to bring it for cash. And cash we have. So all are happy. Even Chris gets in the pool. (insert all the air leaving the courtyard at our group gasp).
We pack up after a few hours and get ready for our outing for the evening. Just a short trip to a block printing facility. Here we are told we can get made to measure pajamas with the hand printed silk and cotton. And I’m already thinking of what or who I can sell back home to make this happen. On our way, we see Jaipur proper. What a breathtaking city. Much cleaner then Delhi, with strict rules about garbage disposal and shop upkeep. On our way we are screaming with delight as we see dozens of monkeys run by the road, and, wait for it, we see our first ELEPHANT!!!!! Just randomly walking down the road, ridden by his master, happy and strolling. We squeal!!! But we’re told we are not allowed to stop the bus and climb on the elephants maam. Humph.
At the print shop We have a demonstration of the printing-and I’m SOLD. What a beautiful art-printing each color separately, with a separate hundreds years old hand carved block, and each color is derived from spice dyes. Saffron and indigo, tumeric and coffee. I am completely in a trance, they have to drag me away. But I sneak my way into the gift shop, and before Chris knows what has happened I have a made to order pair of silk jammies. And were getting calls from Visa (ironically from a call center in India…) telling us some lunatic has stolen our card and gone nuts at a PJ shop………Chris says it must be the same person who bought and quickly got tired of a silk bedspread in China…..and gives Nicole a “this is all your fault” look.
We get back on the bus and drive home, back to our boujee hotel, and order a table for dinner, and to our delight, we are given our own deck with a lovely table for 4 all set up and private. Then menus are poured over, where we pick out roughly 15-18 meals we want, and try to narrow it down to 3-4. We order chicken in curry and tomato sauce, tandoori mushrooms and chilli nooders, naan bread and wine. And just like that the four Muppets are at the end of another beautiful day. We order the same table for tomorrow night, head back to the room for the nightly rum and coke, Gary’s ceremonial beating, and after he stops crying, off to bed, to dream of elephants and monkeys and lions (I threw that last one in) “Life of Pi” style. Just knowing there are all those animals out there makes me feel all warm and fuzzy…or that might be the 38 degree nighttime heat? Oh well, the air conditioning is strong and sweet, and we are too tired to be warm. Nicole has been falling asleep for an hour, almost face planting into her curry at dinner.
Tomorrow will no doubt mean more monkeys and elephants….and we want to be well rested.