Posts Tagged ‘Jaipur’

North Tour: Jaipur: What language is that?

April 17, 2011

Wednesday, 2 March

JAIPUR TO JAISALMER: India is a land of many languages. But even though it has 29 languages with at least 1 million speakers, those aren’t sufficient for its exchange students.

Despite having just three different mother tongues, the 13 of us use at least ten different languages. We’ve increased our use of Hindi at least fivefold since the South Tour, our vocabulary now extending beyond bas (enough) and chalo (let’s go). Select Marathi words such as fukta (only) have made their way into our conversations. Because of the efforts made by some to stretch their high school knowledge, Anaïs can occasionally communicate with some of us in French, and the three Germans have no trouble speaking their native tongue amongst themselves. We’ve used Spanish, Italian, Sanskrit, Korean and Japanese with various degrees of fluency and success. And of course there’s English – the Indian variety, at that.

So what do you call the language we speak? Fre-Ger-Spa-Ita-Kor-Sans-Jap-Mar-Hinglish? Spicy English? Or my favorite: The exchange student language for dummies properly perfectly itself only?

Whatever language we use, we can always understand each other, even if our lack of knowledge in one language creates more confusion than comprehension. So as not to take tension, one of the activities I do whilst one of us is speaking non-English is speak a made-up language with Serenity, Jordan, and whomever we’re not driving out of their mind. We’ve yet to decide on a name for it, but it has many kha‘s, badada‘s and words fun to say, such as chalakamata.

It’s harder than you’d think to carry on a fake conversation, but I think we do quite well. While conversing with Serenity at the Hawa Mahal, one half of a couple we passed distinctly asked the other “what language are they speaking?”

Good question.

As for the settings in which we had such conversations, they once again proved spectacular – or whatever the accompanying synonyms in Exchangese. I’d already seen three majestic forts since coming to India, but I took no issue with visiting a fourth today. Both that and the Hawa Mahal gave us great views of Jaipur and the surrounding area. The 12 km long “Great Wall” of India adorned the surprisingly lush countryside, and we spent the better part of the afternoon hunting for bargains in its wake. Finding souvenirs in Rajasthan has not been a difficult task, and while I already have three keychains, a decorative string, and a mini-wire bicycle to show for it, that’s still less than the haul most of the others have added to their suitcases already.

Today, too, was a good one.

🙂

P.S. See the glossary for more information on how we speak!

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North Tour: Jaipur: A pretty cool place

April 17, 2011

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.

🙂

North Tour Preview: Where I’ll be from 28 February to 25 March

February 27, 2011

How many people have the chance to visit the Taj Mahal?

Now how many people who visit the Taj Mahal can claim it may not be the most interesting thing they do in a 26-day stretch?

Once again, I’m incredibly lucky to be on a month long tour of India, and this one looks to be even better than the last. The Taj Mahal in Agra is like The Great Wall of China, The Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa all rolled into one. It’s the first piece of architecture that comes to mind when one thinks of India. It’s one of the wonders of the world.

But I can’t say it’s the most exciting thing I have to look forward to on this tour.

So if not the Taj Mahal, what is?

The Pink City of Jaipur and its monumental palaces? A camel ride through Rajasthan and a nighttime campout in the desert? Dharamsala, a monastery wherein the Dalai Lama resides? Manali, perhaps the only place in India I’m likely to step in snow? White-water rafting in Himachal Pradesh? Delhi, the capital of India and the site of monuments such as the Red Fort, the India Gate, and Lotus Temple? Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest cities, on the banks of the Ganges River? Darjeeling, which provides a view of the third-highest peak in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga? Gangtok, where we’ll celebrate Holi at two miles above sea level? Kolkata, the cultural capital of India?

I can’t tell you now.

But four weeks from now, when I’ve completed all that and more, I should be able to.

🙂