Thursday, 22 January 2009

Super-Tight Witch


Jaipur seems to have its charms, though if I am completely honest my favourite bit so far has been Amber Fort, the amazing fort just out of town.

As I have broken my camera and have had to spend money replacing it, Charles is having to put up with me going on a super-budgeting drive. As someone I know would say, I have turned into a "super-tight witch". 

So instead of a tuk tuk we went by local bus. I prefer that anyway, and for Rs7 each way it was a winner.

The fort is a great attraction, so impressive towering about us. The bus leaves you at the bottom and once you get rid of people trying to sell you postcards you start the ascent (I am not sure why they think that the fact that the postcard is plastic and not paper is a selling point). Then again, they've been trying to sell me a carpet excitedly telling me it had been cleaned with chemicals.

The 20 minute uphill stroll could be changed for a longer one on the back of an elephant, but I have never agreed with the way these animals are sometimes treated, and for what I have read it is no different in Jaipur.

The journey back would have been a sociologist's dream, or an amateur one's for just discovering the country. Let me explain myself. I am not old fashioned guy. I would not stand up to give my seat on a bus to a woman my own age, except if she is expecting or hurt. Y'know, the normal things. If I am with a friend I will probably offer her the seat if I get to it first, and will curse her if she takes it.

However, I was surprised to see a young woman get to a seat on the bus, and instead of sitting down, waited for the boyfriend/husband to come and take it while she stood up. I was going to offer my window seat to the woman, but decided that I may have caused more harm than good and also she would have had to sit next to a stranger.

Sitting next to Charles was a younger guy, probably straight from the hills of Kashmir but definitely smelling of goat. He looked completely at ease on the bus and fitted in perfectly well. Until he opened his pocket and got out his i-phone and started to play games. 

This is a dichotomy that has not stopped to amaze me in India. Modernity and past are living hand in hand. Some people are holding on to a world that is fast changing, for example the peanut roaster that I photographed in one of the bazaars.

On the other hand others are able to move on. My hope is that the country is able, as they move forward faster and faster, to bring with them a higher proportion of those that are currently left behind.

My week here is making me think about going to China.

Are they able to avoid the levels of desperate and depriving poverty seen in India? There is no democracy when you dont have anything to eat, when your children walk around naked in rubbish piles. The biggest democracy in the world has to do more than give its citizens a vote every four years to be a true democracy.

Tomorrow we will be enjoying the heights of current Indian pop culture. A Bollywood movie and later on taking our first long distance night train on our way to the Thar Desert.


  1. Hi,

    I stumbled across your blog very recently and just wanted to let you know that you are helping my long (long) days in the office go that little bit keep it up! sounds like you are having some fab experiences.

  2. sounds like you're having a good trip.

    have a great time in the desert - jaisalmeer is incredible. The camel trek can be quite interesting, the guides do like to ride on the saddle behind you and can be a little overfamiliar !

    am very envious (of the trip, not the camel guide !)


  3. some places would charge extra for an over familiar camel guide!