Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jaipur: I was just about to pee out of a bus window.

My day of nothing was everything I needed it to be. I am less than 10 pages away from finishing my book, got lots and lots of sleep, and drank lots of Chai, ofcourse.

The next day I met Soni promply at 9. Then we started our historical sightseeing adventure. First, we went to the white marble temple in Jaipur. Stunning. The whole complex was made out of marble. Alot of buildings in India, especially in Jaipur, are made out of marble Ive come to see. The inside had a shrine dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi, and the rest of the temple was open I am assuming for when they give pujas or have ceremonies and whatnot. There was stained glass windows that resembled the Catholic Cathedral stained glass. It had many gods depicted in the different windows. Ganesh, Hanuman, Shiva, Parvati, Krishna, Durga, the list goes on. It even had scenes from the classic Indian text, The Bhaghavad Gita. Beautiful. Outside on the pillars gods and goddesses were carved out of the marble with great precision and detail. Upon leaving, I went to find a bathroom and they were charging for foreigners to take a piss. I always find this hilarious when I run into this because I can walk 10 feet away and pee on his podium because I guarentee someone already has just a few minutes ago.

Then we went to Hawa Mahal Palace (which Soni was very good to explain to me anything I asked) was made by the Indian Maharajas (Indian royalty) for the royal women to come and watch the festivals in the street because being of royalty they have to cover their faces when in public and are not allowed to watch from the streets because of their royalty. Nice views, lots of windows to see the streets, and it was in the heart of Jaipur. "The pink city". Every building was pink because the Maharaja of Rajasthan at the time wanted to create a pink city after seeing the pink city in france and chose Jaipur to be the one. Therefore, in a certain part of Jaipur all the buildings are pink, however alot of the buildings have faded almost to a redish sometimes orangish color.

After this we get into his rickshaw and it wont start. He tinkers with the thing, gets someone to help him and nothing. He walks me to the next attraction, City Palace, and tells me he will call me when he is done in maybe an hour. City Palace was basically a museum of the Maharaja of Rajasthan Sawai Man Singh. It had on display clothes used in weddings, ceremonies, polo (he was a famous polo player, they were very proud of this, I found it hysterical), turbons. My favorite part was looking at the weapons and guns. The guns were antiques ranging from matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, and revolvers. Then they had all sorts of daggers, krises, katars, shields (which were made out of animal hide), helmets, chain mail, spears, mace, you name it it was there and I was drooling all over it. So rad. There was also a very small hallway of ancient hindu art paintings. The detail that was put into these paintings were unlijke anything I have ever seen. Mindblowing. You could see each strand of hair, each fingernail, each square millimeter brushed was taken under great concentration and accuracy. Outside the palace I ran into someone from the Vipassana meditation course. His name was Aussie from Israel. His "room" was right across from mine and he left the 3rd day. We talked for a bit then went our seperate ways. Crazy we would be at the same place so far after the retreat. I called Soni and we met up outside.

Then we went and saw the Tombs of Singh an his family. 3 different kinds of marble from three different parts of the world. One from Jaipur, the other from southern India, and the other from Italy. The monument rested before a vast mountain range and was very serene away from the city noise. I love the way Indian architecture looks. The buildings with the big bulbs at the top surrounded by tall vast pillars intricately designed with religious figures, or flowers, or animals. Whatever it is, it is always almost perfect.

We then went and saw the Water Palace which is a Palace that was build for Singh to come and chill basically. Its built in the middle of a lake in Jaipur, and Soni said he used to just go there to relax, dance, and get away from everything with friends and/or family.

Soni then takes me to handifraft place "to see how they make their crafts" but to really get me to buy some of their stuff. I quickly get myself out of there and say to Soni,
"You know how you said I can ask you anything, to consider you family?"
"Yes ofcourse"
"Dont ever, take me to another place where people try to sell me shit, Soni. Im serious, this is why I hate Delhi. You are a good man and will be compensated, you know what I mean when I say compensated?"
"Yes, paid"
"yes, for your honesty and sincerity, but when you try to get me to buy something you start to loose my trust and become just like every other rickshaw driver Ive dealt with in India."
"no no, I just want you to see how they make crafts that is all. you no buy, you no buy. its no problem."
From there we went to the Monkey Palace which is just an area where monkeys in large quanity roam around. Its a good spot to take pictures of the sunset (and ofcourse the monkeys) and there are a few temples to visit on the way. On my way up to the top, I buy some peanuts to feed the monkeys on the way. This was without a doubt the highlight of my day, having the monkeys take the peanuts out of my hand. Knowing that they are hungry and I am feeding them, was such a great feeling. I love monkeys. I then met a kid on the way, well me more like followed me the whole way, who took pictures of me feeding the monkeys, danced, singed, taught me hindi, all for a price. However, I gave him 10 rs. before he even asked for money, but on our way down he kept hounding me for more. He didnt get any more. I stopped at the two temples, made donations, bowed, recieved garlands of flowers and bindis (marks of different pastes on my forehea). At one of the temples, I made a donation of 10rs. and the lady says,
"10 ruppes?! No no no, 50 ruppes!"
I sharply replied back with,
"Namaskar! Das Rupia!" (Listen! 10 ruppees!)
I thought the lady was going to pee herself she was laughing so hard. She wasnt expecting hindi to come from a young white boy. Granted I dont know much more but I am learning my way around :) The sun was setting at this point but once it hit the cloud of pollution, the sunlight couldnt penetrate it because it was so thick, so I went back.

On my way, I met two girls who were lost from England. I helped them get on the right track and we went our seperate ways. I could tell something was wrong with Soni, I think it was because he did not get a commission off me from the handicraft place he took me to. He took me back to the hotel were I packed my bag, washed up, then I ate. Soni wanted me to write a letter of recomendation in his book ( a common thing for indians to show foreigners about how great their service is) so I just wrote what I felt. Soni truly did want to give the best service he could. He would constantly pull over to explain to me what certain monuments history was and to make sure I was having a good time and "take lots of pictures". He truly did, so I wrote that. I paid him a bit more than I would be willing to pay for a service like his because of how genuine and kind he is. His deal was pay with a closed fist and he accepts with a closed fist then when I am on bus "i look to see what my luck was. how much god wanted me to make today." I put money in his hand and off he went. Then I was talking with Saleem ( the short cook) and he gave me a mala to wear around my wrist.
"Cody, I want to give you this." he grabs my handand puts a mala around my wrist
"Saleem! Thank you so much! I dont have american souvenir but this is all I can give" I then put some money in his hand with the warmest intention of his happiness in my mind.
"Thank you Saleem, your food was wonderful. I will see you when I come back to Jaipur in a week or two."
I then realized that I gave Soni the wrong amount of money because you pay with a close fist. I gave him 50rs. alittle more than 1 usd. I immediately call him and say,
"Soni!!! I gave you wrong amount of money. "
"Oh I dont know you know I accept and dont look til on bus."
"You still at hotel?"
"Yes, I come meet you."
I would have felt so bad if I didnt meet back up with him to give him his proper amount. I am so glad I did, I gave him an american souvenir, a golden dollar and told him
"I want this coin to be on you to attract genuine people like yourself and much more business."
"I will this is a gift. Thank you Cody."
"As for the money, go buy your kids something or your wife or you. I want it to go toward you and or your family, your a good man Soni."

Him and Soni then walked me to my bus and made sure I was completely satisfied before walking back to the hotel. I must have thanked them 256 times. Such warm people.

I had a sleeper bus which gives you an area smaller than a twn size bed to sleep in. you are enclosed by windows on both sides and to my luck my windows would not stay shut, so for 13 hours, I was so cold I thought I might get frost bite. It was warm in Jaiupur so before boarding I grabbed a little blanket I bought in McLeod, but when we started getting into Jaisalmer it got COLD. Its a desert. Now this reminds me of Africa. Desert plains, with hardly any buildings. Lots of camels, pigs, and goats. And somewhere in the midst of my half awake stage, you know where you arent fully asleep but still aware of your bodily senses? Yeah the urge to pee was so strong I thought for sure there was going to be a problem...I didnt know what to do, so the first thing that came to mind was...Go out the window. Yes, thats right, out the window. Its India, no one cares, and besides it could be hours before the driver stops. So there I am on my knees, window open and myself ready to go and the bus stops.
"Thank God" I say outloud
I zip up, put on my shoes, push people out of the aisle, find an alley and ahhhhhh relief like you would not believe. I started cracking up because I was imagining in my minds eye what i looked like and said, "I was just about to pee out of a bus window."

On my way in, I see a girl getting into my sleeper. Turns out we both were assigned the same sleeper. I didnt sign up for this!...But im not complaining :)...All joking aside, we immediately found the humor in it, she got reassigned and we immediately became friends. This was Sarah from Germany.

Today upon the bus stopping, we were the last two out of the bus and we were swarmed like were Britney Spears coming out of rehab with a bag of cocaine in her hand. Taxi drivers, probably about 30 all screaming at us to go to their hotel. I made reservations at one that Saleem arranged and the driver had my name written all wrong, I dont even think it was English. It looked like gibberish, I just remember the name, Himalyan Guest House. Thats funny because this is far away from the Himalayas. In any case, Sarah tagged along because the price is really cheap here. she wants to do the camel trek as well so off we went. We get to the hotel and immediately are sat down to arrange for the camel trek. I told the man,
"Look, Im cold. Im tired. I smell like shit. I need to have a shower and eat something before I get bombarded with arranging this."
So I took a shower, then on our way out the hotel he swarms us to make the arrangements. But he makes us a deal thats hard to offer. He knocked off a good amount of the orginal quote and gave us one night stay free when we come back. Deal. Now food. Sarah and I got some local breakfast, then I came to a internet cafe while she walked around town.

Im gonna meet up with her to get some lunch, then probably walk around for the rest of the day, for tomarrow is one of the highlights of my trip. Ive been looking forward to the camel safari with great multitude, so I am stoked. I go for 3 days and 2 nights.

Much love to you all.