The Pink City
It's quite hard to believe, but I think Jaipur may be the most chaotic place yet. It's the capital of Rajasthan, but with only two million people (only!), it's a fraction of the size of Delhi. It must be much smaller though, because those two million people, their cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, and animals create more havoc on the street than imaginable. The old city is surrounded by a large wall for defensive purposes and was painted pink for the color of the Prince of Wales polo jersey, or something like that.
After roughing it for a few days, we decided to splurge a little and go from the 'budget' category of hotels to the 'mid-range' -and what a treat it was. We actually got to sleep on the hotel's sheets rather than inside our little silk sleep cocoons. Unfortunately, we had little time to enjoy the hotel room. Our short stay in Jaipur was loaded with sights, sounds, and attractions. We also made the bold decision try a local restaurant called Ganesh. This wasn't a complete stab in the dark -it came highly recommended by the Lonely Planet -our personal bible for India. (Ann reads it religiously.) It is tucked away in a back corner on the second floor of the old wall and the adventure began just wandering through the marketplace trying to find it. Finally we were seated and fortunately it was an off-hour and we had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately no one spoke a lick of English -and our Rajasthani is slightly lacking. (Not to detract from Ann's language prowess -she sounds like a native with greetings and thank yous!) There is no menu -our server just rattled off a list of dishes and when something sounded vaguely familiar we made a lot of noise. Whatever dish ended up at our table was more than delicious -although a little too spicy for Ann. A frantic face and some hand waving brought another more palatable dish for her. Not a five star dining experience, but plenty of fun for the adventurous traveler.
Aside from the myriad of forts, palaces, and other areas of general interest, we decided to see an evening movie "Dosti". India is fanatic about its movies and annually produces many more movies than Hollywood. Mumbai (a stop later on our trip that you might know better as Bombay) is home to Bollywood, the center of this movie industry. If you play Cranium, you might already know that India produces the most movies of any other country in the world, about 3000/year! What better way to experience India like Indian than to see a movie. There was just one catch -the whole movie was in Hindi with some basic English every now and then for no apparent reason. The big difference with the movie was that every 20 minutes or so they throw in a music video. They are really big on those. Everyone starts singing and dancing. That's the part we enjoyed the most. Indians love their movies but they especially love the music video scenes, that's where all the pop music comes from.
Fun as all this may be, the excitement in Jaipur is really just beginning...