The Pink Gate of Jaipur

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
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Trip End Feb 14, 2010


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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm sitting on a bench at the pink gate of Jaipur, an hour after sunrise. I'd describe the walls as more of a coral or orange, but since this is the Pink City of Rajasthan I'll go with it.

Even at this hour a steady stream of traffic honks past in both directions: horse-drawn carts, bicycles, cycle-rickshaws, Vespas, motorcycles, buses... One of the dangers of a car and driver at my disposal is the reduced chances to just be -- to take moments where the world moves past me, not the other way around. I get to wonder who sat here and ate all the peanuts whose shells litter the ground at my feet.

It's also the first time I've really noticed or been harrassed by insects. Small flies flit from face to finger, tiny ants explore my shoes and something has just bitten me through my sock. Probably a flea from this stray dog sniffing about.
 
I'd anticipated a lot more smell and bugs this trip. Maybe it's just wintertime in the north, maybe it's the tourist places I've frequented, but squalor while evident everywhere is not typically overwhelming. I'm sure someone will be by later to sweep up these shells.
 
Where are all these people going? What is this press of people doing at this time on a holy day? I'm likely betraying my small-town roots, but I'm still puzzled by the constant migration of people around the city.

The pink gates the guard the old town and palace squash the horrible traffic here to a single lane (in a few places a single lane for both directions of traffic), and sometimes the whole thing can jam up as everyone tries to press through at the same time.

***

Last night Rafiq took us to the Raj Madir to watch the Bollywood production "The Three Idiots." The star, Aamir Khan, is an odd combination of Jude Law and Eminem with the mischevious twinkle of my cousin Reilly thrown in.

With no subtitles, I occasionally wondered what was going on (there was one scene where the audience was in absolute stitches because of a lot of verbal puns), but the easy storly line and the fact English words pepper 20% of the dialogue made it less difficult than you'd think. The theatre itself ranks in my top 5. The art deco lobby alone could house a few multiplex screens. I'll let the pictures (to be posted on my return, I suspect) speak for themselves. We sat in the expensive diamond section, a small balcony area with its own lobby, lounge, snackbar and cosmetics room. We've been humming the various catchy songs ever since.
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