Speed sight-seeing by autorickshaw
13.11.2010 - 14.11.2010 32 °C
I knew we'd arrived in Jaipur from the weight of dust on my eyelids. Thus ended fifteen hours on the sleeper bus from Amritsar: the trains were all full. When I say sleeper I mean keep your 'reclining' seats: this was a cozy, flat double bed for Kot i Pies, where one might ordinarily put a luggage rack. Human cargo we were, tumbling left and right, up and down, back and forth, all at once, all the way in a compartment just too short to stretch your legs. It's the only way to travel!
Scrambling off that dastardly tin can at 11am we grabbed aloo parantha and set off in the direction of Lonely Planet's budget hotel recommendation, spurning the rickshaw drivers that lined our path. Going there has made our day, not because of the hotel - it was too expensive at £8/night - but because outside we met 'Rajik'.
"Not many autorockshaw drivers have a website eh?", he chuckled, I suspect correctly, as he drove us home. In the past few hours he's taken us to Jawa Nahal, which is quite literally astronomical (it's a set of ginormous sculpted sundials), to the Hannuman temple, the Windy Palace, the Water Palace, the tie-dye textile factory and the silversmith.
I say 'home' but we just said good night to Rajik sat in a local bar and it's brilliant. Dark, very dark, the air thick with cigarette smoke, one small TV. It could be a British pub from the 70's if it wasn't for the (nervous) waiter service and free pappadums.
Men sit huddled in indistinguishable shadows, slurring their words. And they are all men - no doubt hiding from their wives. The slogan of the whisky here: 'Let the world wait' - and we've seen recently many doing exactly that, clearly for decades at a time if the looks their scowling wives are anything to go by.
Several have sat themselves down next to us over the past 10 minutes, eager to know 'Which countree?' and 'You like India?'
Well I was born in the UK, though I think nation-states are past their sell-by date, since you ask. And India? What can I say. Here with a beer, looking out over the sprawling Pink City - and it is mostly pink: I've checked - dusty, concrete and poverty-stricken it may be - yeah it'll do. It'll do.
A light rain; flashes of blue lightning fork brilliantly through the sky as we look out to the 'Hotel Om' revolving tower. Magical.