North Tour: Jaipur: A pretty cool place

Tuesday, 1 March

JAIPUR: The thing that everyone seems to forget about deserts is that at night, they get really, really cold.

Falling asleep at 1 a.m. without a second of sleep debt is harder than you’d think. So when that sleep is interrupted by chai-wallahs a mere three hours later, it’s a disorienting and disgruntling experience.

My first thought when I woke up this morning: “Why am I awake?”

My second thought: “Wow, it’s really cold.”

You don’t need air conditioning in this weather, but at least AC Sleeper cars come with blankets. Most of us having forgotten our own, we used scarves, hats, jackets and each other’s body heat to help out our metabolic systems. The chai actually warmed us adequately, but in doing so it became impossible for us to sleep. By 4:30 or so, we realized any attempt to fall back asleep would be fruitless, so we kept each other company until arriving in Jaipur around 6.

I guess we got off to a pretty good start in acquiring sleep debt.

But who needs a full night of sleep with the first day of sightseeing ahead?

From camels to snake charmers, Jaipur is the kind of city that makes you think of Indian stereotypes. Perhaps it’s because of them that so many foreigners are attracted to Jaipur. There’s no scarcity of outsiders here, either in the monuments we visited or on the streets we’ve driven by. We sprinted to the back of our bus and gawked the first time we spotted a non-Indian walking the Jaipur streets. (Our reactions to seeing foreigners are no better than those of Indians, na?) It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize spotting them would not be a rare occurrence.

Actually, Jaipur probably attracts so many foreigners because there’s so much to see here. Our sightseeing began with a huge wind palace – not as monumental or large as Mysore’s, but impressive in its own right. We found an assortment of impressively accurate astrological equipment at one site, including the world’s largest sundial (adorned with about 100 live pigeons).

At night, we ate a traditional Rajasthani meal and watched several performances – including dances and puppet shows. Once, I was called on stage to dance. I flailed my arms and shook my body in the least awkward dance I could muster. At the very least, it was an outlet for some of my dance-frustration.

Our tour was not off to a bad start.

🙂

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