From Amritsar we train to Delhi and car to Jaipur – the Pink City. Now we are in Rajastan – a desert state which was built by the Mogul empire – minarets, domes, richly coloured fabrics, elephants and camels on the street. the first carrying people, the latter – hauling bricks, rocks, vegetables etc.
the streets are even more challenging to cross as there are walkers, bicyclists, camels, elephants, bicycle rickshaws, autorickshaws, – oh yes – and cars, buses, trucks. gauging the speed of all this traffic and trying to cross through it is an act of faith and courage. sometimes we just sidle up to some Indians and when they move – we move, and stick very close to them.
we are staying at the same guesthouse as our last trip and it is delightful. we have fans in our rooms, a shared balcony, nice breeze, great showers and much hospitality.
the absolute gem of our time here (five days) was that right next door a traditional Rajastani wedding was going on. it was started when we arrived and was still going on when we left. since all the ‘backyards’ meet behind the houses, it was like the wedding was going on at our place. men with tablas were drumming at the entrance of the house on the street and in the ‘backyard’ were the women. this was all visible to us as we were on the second floor looking over this yard. as i watched the women they would smile and wave at me. there were women singing and playing the boran and harmonium and others were cooking and children playing in between all the goings-on.
the music was heavenly – it was what Joseph and I listen to on our CDs – and here it was – live and right next door. the women sang throughout the day and evening, sometimes dancing traditional dances – in beautifully richly coloured saris. it was exquisite. everything quieted down around 11 pm and around 9 am the first of the singing and dancing started up again. one night the backyard was covered with rich red carpets and some chairs were set up around the edge. men started streaming in and sitting. gifts began to pile up on the carpets until it was covered. the bride and about 30 women came out singing and met every guest at the gate with bindi (mark on forehead) and placing a sweet in the mouth. gifts were exchanged and this went on for some time as all the guests were welcomed. being able to listen and see all of this in person is such a gift!
here is Jospeh standing on the balcony of our guesthouse.
samosa and chai at a roadside stand
early morning snoozer
woman selling flowers for offering at a temple
David kicking back – well swinging, really – on our rooftop
we have been here before so we know the places we would like to see again and of course, this is David and Kelley’s first time. We go up to the Amber Fort and David finds out that the largest cannon in the world is at another fort about 2 km away. so the two of them set off for a hike across the spine of a ridge overlooking Jaipur and spend some time there. they came back with the news of this cannon, how it was forged, how much powder is needed to fire it etc. from its perfect vantage point on the hill, the cannon has 360 degrees view and the range is 22 miles. it was only fired once, when it was tested and never again. apparently the threat of what it could do kept away invaders for a long time. Joseph and I spent a more lesisurely time at the Amber Fort, enjoying each area, me trying to stay in the shade and catch a breeze and do some sketching.
elephants unloading their passengers at the top of the climb to the Amber Fort.
as Joseph was buying the tickets to enter the fort, someone was bringing the teller his morning cup of chai. Joseph jokingly said – oh – we get chai with the ticket? and when the man handed Joseph our tickets, he passed him the small cup of chai which I am holding here in my hand. how sweet!
looking down into one of the hundreds of courtyards from one of the hundreds of balconies. one of the main considerations when building the fort (800 years ag0) is keeping cool. there are passageways which function as air/breeze catchers, there is a certain placement of rooms depending on where the sun will be and the purpose of the room. there are rooms covered in a mosaic of mirrors to reflect the light elsewhere etc.
one of the more ornate entranceways – mosaic and formed beautifully.