Jaipur: The Pink City of Rajasthan

My plan was to take a train to Jaipur in Rajasthan.  But apparently, the Rajasthan train system is anything but reliable.  The trains tend to be very late, and all the trains were booked, so I was kinda stuck.  So, I switched to plan B:  I rented a car and driver to take me on a 9-day road trip.  This was surprisingly cheap, and given the unknowns of the train system, it seemed to be the most logical alternative.  I now have “a driver” who can not only take me to whatever town I want to visit, but can also drive me to the sights if I desire, and can take me to a restaurant if necessary.    Rajasthan in June is very hot, so having an air-conditioned taxi at my beck and call is pretty nice.

The Water Palace

Feeding the birds at the waters edge.

My first stop is Jaipur, the “Pink City”. After my 5-hour drive here, I needed to take a walk, so I left the hotel in the scorching mid-day sun and walked towards the center of town.  I can see what must have been some spectacular buildings a few hundred years ago, no doubt a deeper shade of pink than exists now, after multiple decades of diesel exhaust giving them a fine, industrial sort of patina.

Street vendors providing a haircut and message for about $1.00

I was walking for about 60 minutes, and in that time I never saw one Westerner.  Suffice to say, this is not a big tourist town.  And I can see why.  Now if I said it was a bit of an “open sewer”, you might accuse me of hyperbole, or of using a metaphor to describe the place.  But no, there actually IS an open sewer.  There is this concrete trough that runs parallel to the road, which is normally covered with concrete panels with spaces about every 18” or so, which sometimes makes the “sidewalk”, and sometimes it’s between the sidewalk and the road.  And through it flows the effluent of the city.

This was not pretty.

Which means in the best of times (whenever that is) the open sewer is a least partially hidden by small concrete panels, but that would NOT keep the smell hidden.  However, today, and I’m guessing it was because of last nights torrential downpour, there were dozens of workers down in the trough, shoveling out the sludge that obviously became clogged overnight.

So in today’s intense heat, instead of the waste flowing below grade, it was sitting in heaping piles along the road.  Walking along, it was a real challenge keeping myself from gagging.  The smell was overpowering, but no one other than me seemed to notice.   This is not the Rajasthan of the travel brochures.

Then, I saw this parade.  There were hundreds of women, dressed in flowing red clothing, balancing clay pots on their heads.  At the front of the procession were a few camels properly decked out for the occasion.

Balancing an engine on his head.

Flowers for sale

~ by Robert on June 11, 2011.

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