Monday, November 24, 2008

Jaipur to Delhi

We got up and checked out of the hotel in Jaipur. We had a 8PM flight to Delhi, so we had a jammed packed day until we had to go to the airport. We first went to a large antique market. I had a very typical Indian shopping experience. Cathy and I wanted to buy a temple hanging. These are large scale paintings that were hung in Hindu Temples that told stories to the people that couldn’t read. They just had to look at the paintings to know what the legends were. I saw one that appealed to me and asked the owner about the painting. He explained it was over 300 years old. It was expensive. I liked it. I called Cathy over to take a look and she asked why the painting a steam locomotive on it, if it 300 years old. The owner shrugged. I obviously lost all confidence in the place at that time, so we didn’t buy it. We told our guide (who I am sure would get a commission if we bought it) and he immediately said “They must have had a premonition when they painted the painting”.

We first went shopping at a jewelry store. I had lots of fun bargaining for people.
I walked over to the milk market. If you went to this market, you would only drink your milk black in India, if you ever visit the country. Farmer’s bring the cows milk in standard milk containers. Because no one knows when the cow was milked, you don’t know how fresh the milk in the containers is. So there are dozens of milk containers scattered about on the dusty street. Restaurant people, or just housewives, go to a container, open it stick there hand into the milk, lick their hand to taste the milk and decide if they want to buy it or not – depending upon how it tastes to them. So the milk you get at that restaurant could have had any number of hands in it! So drink your coffee black, or make sure you get boiled milk!

We then went to the Amber Fort. This is another Fortress built upon a mountain top. It was impregnable. Never conquered by anyone! We took our buses as close as we could, then hired jeeps to take us up the mountain to the fort. The Fort is surrounded by walls that creep over the hills as far as the eye could see. It reminded us all of the Great Wall of China. We went through the fortress and in Cathy and my mind, were relating it to the many books and movies we have read of this period of time.

We did a little more shopping after the fort, and went to an interesting Indian Theme restaurant that was like eating in a train car. We then went to the Taj Hotel, which is another converted Palace, for a drink. This Palace was a guest palace, for use if someone arrived after the Amber Forts gates were closed. Once they were closed for the night, they wouldn’t open for anyone, including the king. So this palace is where he could crash for the night. It is very posh. There were two men who had large white flags. All they did was walk around and
hit the flag causing a loud noise. We couldn’t figure out what it was, and when I asked I was told they are pigeon chasers, whose only job is to scare away any pigeons that land at the Taj.
Interesting fact, you see men peeing against walls everywhere. We have no ideas what women do, if they have to go. One wag suggested they are squatting on the other side of the walls. Who knows?

We then drove to the airport and flew to Delhi. After navigating the airport and arriving at our hotel, about 10pm, we quickly checked into our room. Woops, they gave us keys to someone else’s room, or at least there bags and clothing were in the room. The management profusely apologized and upgraded us to a suite. All’s well that ends well, as they say. We finally got to bed about Midnight, and have a 4:45 wakeup call. We are catching the train tomorrow early am to Agra, to finally visit the Taj Mahal.

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