This morning was our last day at Orchard Tents in Pushkar and the entire staff saw us off for our next leg of our journey. Before we departed Debbie and I found ourselves under the office veranda talking to the Manager of Hotel Orchard and Soloman (the lovely man that joined us for the camel rides the night before). We got into a very interesting conversation about politics and the state of the world. The U.S. election has been a hot topic in India. Almost every Indian has asked us what our thoughts are and are very anti Trump (not surprising!). They all seem to love Obama…not only for his politics but also for his heart (Indians are a very loving and feeling people). My sister and I have different political views, so many times we have to be careful of how far we can dive into these conversations. Interestingly enough, we can chat for hours about very in depth, meaningful topics, but politics we have to walk a fine line.
The Manager at Orchard mentioned that he has had many wonderful guests that keep in touch with him from all over the world. He mentioned that in May he was going to be traveling to Berkley to visit one of his customers who lives there. This man is offering to fly him and his family to California for 2 weeks to come explore the United States. The Manager explained that the first time this man visited Orchard Tents he asked him how he could buy a camel for a child in need. The Manager found a little boy who had just lost both of his parents and who was very, very poor…having little chance to make anything out of his life. The man from Berkley met with the boy and decided to change his life forever. That evening all of the townspeople came to Orchard Tents and brought gifts for this man in appreciation. The Manager explained that in this moment the man from Berkley broke down crying from all of the appreciation and love. As he ended the story, he saw tears in our eyes and gave a large smile knowing he had touched our hearts with this story as well. We became friends on Facebook and I told him to reach out when he made that trip to my state. I wanted to meet this wonderful man again and to meet this exceptional person in Berkley who seemed to spread generosity and love so freely.
The driver drove us 2.5 hours to Jaipur and we arrived at our homestay called Jas Villas around 1pm. Jas Villas is a lovely hotel with a beautiful courtyard and pool. Debbie and I sat out around the veranda and had some lunch waiting for our driver to arrive. Once picked up, he brought us to the City Palace which is one of the most famous places to see in Jaipur that houses all of the royal gardens and palaces. Architecturally it was beautiful but culturally it did not hold our attention for long. From there we went to the Bazar for more shopping, expecting precious gemstones since that is what this city is known for. Instead we just found a street filled with paint and hardware shops. Our driver assured us this was the main spot to see and that maybe it was a bit quieter since it was a Sunday. I began thinking Jaipur might be a bust and that I was glad I did so much shopping in Pushkar.
However, once our driver pulled up to Royal Gaitor, Debbie and I were in Heaven! This magical place (also pictured above with all the birds and buildings) is the final resting place for each of the Kings who have ruled in Jaipur. Every King has his own temple built on these grounds and each building is made completely out of marble and sandstone. They are exquisite. I saw steps that led up to the top of one of these monuments and I climbed it to the top, overlooking all of the temples and the city of Jaipur. All of a sudden the warmest breeze swept past me as hundreds of birds flew around me. I said hello Chio….there you are 🙂
The sun was about to set so our driver rushed us to a nearby mountain top. Again, the sun was a huge pink ball of fire. By the time we got all the way up to the top however, the smog had taken over and you could no longer see the sun. It is amazing how in India when you are down near the streets the sky seems perfectly clear and there is no smog. Debbie and I kept marveling how we continue to spend all day out in the sun and never get any color or sunburned. As we stared out over this mountaintop we could see why, as the haze from the sky made it difficult to even see the city below.
From the mountaintop our driver, Samir (who is a Muslim and lives in Jaipur) drove us to a nearby restaurant that one of his best friends owns. It was one of our favorite places we have eaten so far since it had tons of character, was on a beautiful roodfeck, and served pretty good food (finally!). It was a pleasure speaking with Samir and learning more about his beliefs and culture and how they varied so much from the views of the Hindu’s and the Christians we had met so far. It seems (just like in the states) that the larger cities are much more open minded than the smaller villages and that the younger generations are rebelling more against the traditions of their religions. They do not pray 5 times a day like their mothers and fathers. In the Muslim faith about 90% of young men drink (without their parents knowledge, but only about 5% of women do – which is very frowned upon). It is normal for Muslim men to go out drinking at the bars, but strange if a woman would join them. This is extremely backwards from the United States, where men and women go to bars to pick up on one another. This just does not exist here.
Another interesting thing that I learned is that younger men and women in India try their best to color their skin to look more white. They look at Americans as royalty/celebrities and think this is fashionable. They will actually use chemical dyes to change their skin color. We explained to Samir that this was the exact opposite in the states…we will lay on the beach for hours to get darker tans. Funny who determines what beauty is for what cultures. You always want what you don’t have apparently.
Debbie and I have both come down with terrible colds in the past 24 hours (who gets a cold when traveling in India?!). I wish you all could have experienced the pharmacy that we went to today….on a dirt side rode with a cloth over the store front and one man manning the 10×10 store with a million pill boxes in the background. We tried explaining that we needed over the counter cold medication….hoping those are the right meds and that we will still be alive and kicking tomorrow! With that being said…I need to get some rest to start exploring more tomorrow…night night!
Tags: India, perspective, travel