Tuesday, March 8, 2011

India- Part 3: Jaipur and Agra

India is a vast and amazing place. Everything looks the same and different, all at once. The colors of India are what make the difference. The bright pinks, greens, reds, and blues make everything stand out. In a place so dusty and with such extreme poverty, the people of India keep everything bright.

We were now in Jaipur and had the opportunity to get some quality street time in as we had a free afternoon. We went for a little walk out behind our hotel and ended up at one of the busiest outdoor markets ever. You had to cautiously navigate your way through the people, cars, bikes, dogs and random cows. At one point I got stuck behind a car and this nice little Indian lady came over to me and helped me through the traffic. She didn't even know me, just saw me standing there, debating, and she helped me through, laughed with me a little, and waved goodbye. So sweet and colorful in her red clothing.

The streets were full of children begging, which is probably the hardest thing to see there. You want to help them. It's so easy to help them even, the US dollar goes so far, but you can't. You're specifically told not to because if you give one child a dollar they signal another child down the street, then they signal someone and soon the entire neighborhood is on the lookout for the tourist who gives money away. We kept walking and telling the children "no" as we had been told, but soon a group of kids were following us anyway. They followed us for blocks, begging at first, kindly, then getting irritated and angry, pulling on us and getting in front of us. I have never experienced anything like this so it was tough. I had a mixture of sad and irritated feelings flowing through me. I wanted to help, I couldn't, and it wouldn't necessarily be safe if I did. Such an odd and awful thing to experience.

That night we went to an old palace that had been converted into a restaurant. We had an amazing meal, but had even better entertainment with the dancers. They twirled round and round, stacked clay pots on their heads and stomped on nail beds. They were fantastic...and so were the tourists that joined in. At one point a guy from another group got up and did some serious wild and crazy dancing with the ladies. Then more joined in. I sat there debating whether or not to completely embarrass myself with everyone else and quickly realized I may never be in India again and have this opportunity. I jumped in with the rest of them and soon everyone at the restaurant was dancing.

Photo Credit: Melia Metikos 2011
The next morning we went to Amber Fort where we rode elephants all the way to the top. This was my favorite part of the whole trip. Not just because I've always secretly wanted my own baby elephant ever since I saw Dumbo, but also because the sights on the way up were breathtaking. The scenery all around was stunning and the ride itself was very peaceful, almost meditative, as long as you kept your balance and didn't lean too far forward (which would result in falling off the elephant entirely). Inside the fort were breathtaking winter and summer temples, each with their own theme of glass and clay. Also inside the fort was a cute little monkey that had gotten stuck on a ledge. He had somehow climbed down too far and was having a hard time getting back. First it was just our group watching him, then others, then a whole crowd formed. We all stood by, holding our breath and cheering him on. We probably scared him, in hindsight, but he did get out, and the crowd erupted with applause. A moment later I spotted the snake charmers.

At first I was ridiculously excited. Then I was slightly annoyed because I was pretty sure the snake was fake since it never moved, not once, and did appear rubbery and heck, I was in India, so I really wanted to see real snake charmers. Next,  I was terrified. You see, I was standing much to close to the snake charmers for reasons I don't even understand. I guess I was in awe, like Animal Planet had just arrived in my living room or something. There I was, staring at the snake when the second snake charmer lifted the lid of his straw basket and out popped the snake. Then, he hit it. I mean he very seriously whacked this very deadly snake in the neck, hard, as if he had read my mind and wanted to prove to me it was real. The snake swirled around and spread his neck out and I quickly took my pictures (crazy picture person that I am) and took off to safer corners of the fort where no snakes were lurking (that I knew of anyway).

The entire day in Jaipur was awesome. We saw the outdoor astrology center, we visited a factory where families make rugs for a living (it takes them months to finish one rug), saw the city palace and went to a gem store where they did the gem cutting right on site. We all had a nice dinner and Sunita and I watched some movies in the room, laughed and then pooped out quickly from all of our fun adventures.

Photo Credit: Melia Metikos 2011
The next day we were off on our way to Agra and on the way, stopped at Fatehpur Sikri, another fort like place with dozens of old, amazing buildings. We had a lot of free time and whenever I have any time at all I tend to wander off by myself. I'm not purposely trying to ditch anyone as much as I'm just wanting to see everything that I can possibly see while I can see it. I walked all over the grounds and saw parrots, puppies and one family that asked to have their little girl take a picture with me. I thought it was so cute that she wanted to take a picture with me. She must have thought I was someone famous or something. I was flattered.

We left and headed back out to Agra where we kept speed with a train in the near distance. It was overflowing with people and I saw them waiving to us as we rode, so I waived back. Then they waved some more, excitedly, and I waved back some more, excitedly. Then they started jumping up and down (as much as they could) and blowing kisses at me, to which I had no idea what to do except laugh and pretend to catch them, which I have never been good at. Fake blown kisses always allude me and I look like a crazy person trying to kill bugs that no one sees (ask my poor little nephew who blows me fake kisses that I totally fumble every time). The train excitement went on for a while and then our road split from their track and we waved goodbye to each other.

We went to bed early that night since we were getting up before dawn to see the Taj. A sunrise visit was in the works and none of us wanted to miss that!

More to come...

Related Post
India - Part 2: Delhi


Makavetis said...

i love india! I noticed you like art and thought you might like my new art blog.. i post a new famous painting daily, thanks =)

Chantelle Says said...

Thank you Makavetis! I just checked out your blog and it's awesome!

Lydia L said...

im hooked to your stories! cant wait for the next one

Chantelle Says said...

Awe, thank you Lyd! xoxo