Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pink City of Jaipur

The Bad:

Travel from Mumbai to Jaipur was a 22 hour exhausting move, and I arrived late, sick, tired, and out of money because the India Information and Reservation Centre had yet again failed to get me the money they'd owed me since mid-September and the PayPal transfer wouldn't arrive for another couple of days and the cost to get to the train station in Mumbai was WAY more than I'd expected. So when I get told that the hotel I was supposed to be booked in had overbooked and I was to be schlepped over to another hotel for the night I pretty much lost all ability to keep cope together and burst into tears.

To be fair, the Hotel Rajputana Haveli did the best they could to help me under these very trying circumstances and dealing with a hysterical woman could not be on their list of favorite things ever. They comped me dinner at the hotel and the manager contacted the IIRC about my money and was very helpful in me eventually getting it in my hands. But the person who most helped me was a driver who goes by the nickname of Janu. He gave me some emergency money to tide me over for a few days, and he gave me contacts at the police and the tourist bureau who would help me if the IIRC didn't come through with my refund. He gave me a friend I could call if I needed help in any way. But on my final night there even that wasn't enough to help stave off the sinking depression all the stress pulled me into. I remember emailing my best friend and just spilling my guts about how scared I was and how sick and how worried about everything I was if I didn't get that refund.

I was also very sick again, so earlier that day I'd walked (ok, stumbled) to a doctor who said I didn't have malaria just a bad infection. I used my last emergency money to pay for medicine and then I spent the whole day delirious with fever. (Three days later and I'm back to feeling good again).

My final day I was still fighting with IIRC about my money. They owed me 26,000 rupees but they were only going to give me 10,000 (later 15,000) with the promise of the rest "later." I told them no, full refund. It wasn't until I was in the rickshaw on my way to the police that I got them to promise me my full refund immediately. So I went back to the hotel and waited and then got all money in hand. I nearly cried with relief that it was all over.

The Good:

Jaipur is stunningly unique and I swear you can find anything there in the shops along the various bazaars. And yes, so many of the buildings really are pink! I understand the nickname now, *laughs*. Because I was sick for much of my stay there I didn't get to see or do as much as I'd hoped. But I did wander around for one afternoon, and even had some shop owners pull out a chair and keep me supplied in chai and water while I sketched the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) from the comfort of shade. A bunch of people took my photo, including a newspaper man! My picture was in the paper the next day (too bad I was too sick to remember and get a copy to save.) When I was done (my hand gave out on me and the sun had moved so I was getting overheated) one of the young men from the shop then showed me a secret place up high through one of the temples where I could get a truly stunning view of the palace. I'll never forget that place. Drawing it just etched it even more firmly in my memory.

I also got up to the Amber Fort, which I found to be well worth the 200 rupee entrance fee. I managed to find a super nice rickshaw driver to take me there, and several times he stopped or slowed down so I could take photos from the road. And since neither of us had change for the ride we agreed he'd pick me up when I was ready to leave and I'd pay him then. Got his cell phone number to call when I was ready.

So... the fort. From the outside you don't see the stunning tile details and silver working that decorated the inside. I spent a good three hours exploring, with about half an hour of it sketching one of the inner walls. I could have spent a full day there. I wish I had had more time but it closed at sunset. So I made sure to take photos of what I had been sketching because I wanted to go back and add the color when I had time.

My train wasn't until 11, so I had time to return to the hotel for a final meal and Internet usage and finished my sketch before grabbing another rickshaw to take me to Gandhi Nagra train station, where I waited for the train that would take me on to Jaisalmer.

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