Jaipur Introduction

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This blog entry about the events of Sunday, October 31, 2004 was originally posted on November 02, 2004.

DAY 379:  I woke up in Agra fighting again, the constant fight in my mind between myself and The Blog.  “Blog” wanted me to hang out in my shabby room in Agra until I typed up another entry, while I just wanted to get out of there.  I really wanted to go; there was a haze over the view of the Taj Mahal, the place was deserted, the toilet was clogged with drainage leaking onto the floor, and I was pretty sure Nati the shady auto-rickshaw driver was going to show up to drive me to another store to make commission if I didn’t leave by mid-morning.  “Blog” said I could go, but only until I got some work done first.

The power was out again that morning, and I won by default.  I packed my bags and went to the bus station on an auto-rickshaw of my choosing, just in time to hop on a 7:15 bus to Jaipur as it was slowly pulling out of the bus station already.


TRAVELING IN INDIA has a beginner’s learning curve and I was soon learning how to get around without being scammed.  For one, I knew not to book a “special” bus anywhere from a tour agency; taking a local bus was a lot cheaper for comparable service, and without the label of “TOURIST” on the bus to flag down shady guys.  I got to Jaipur for a third of the cost of my “tourist-class” ride from Delhi to Agra (it’s about the same distance), and arrived at the bus station with everyone else instead of being dumped in the middle of nowhere.  After the six-hour bus ride, I found myself in Jaipur’s central bus station, avoided all the touts and rickshaw guys and walked the 1 km. to the recommended Evergreen Hotel.  My efforts paid off because the place was just as nice as the book described it, a big three story budget hotel complex surrounding a nice green courtyard with trees, lawn and swinging benches.  On the compound was an internet cafe, a restaurant and even a swimming pool (which I couldn’t exactly find) — all hidden in a corner of the city away from the street noise.  I inspected a room down the hall from the numerous rooms with the doors casually open, occupied by hippie-types that looked like they moved in permanently, and approved it.  After settling in, it was time to make some friends.


“HI, I’M ERIK TRINIDAD.  I’m a freelance journalist from New York City,” I introduced myself to the Principal Private Secretary of the current maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Bhawani Singh.  I figured, hey, if you’re going to make a new friend, it might as well be the most powerful guy in town. 

My Let’s Go guidebook said that it was possible to arrange a private meeting with his highness himself if you simply went through the proper channels in a professional manner.  I put on my best outfit — a new bandage around the hole in my leg, a button-down shirt and the pants I had without a hole in it (the other had a hole in the leg too) — sprayed on some deodorant and took an auto rickshaw to the City Palace.  I asked the guard for the Aide de Camp (ADC) office and they gave me a free pass onto the palace grounds under the pretense I was there for official business instead of as a ticket-buying tourist like everyone else. 

The ADC office had a soldier escort me to the office of a Mr. Pratikshit, Principal Private Secretary to his majesty the maharaja of Jaipur, Bhawani Singh, where I started with my formal introduction of “Erik Trinidad, freelance journalist from New York City.”  (It was no “Dr. Jones,” but it was my professional name.)

“I read that it’s possible to meet with the maharaja,” I asked.  “Is that true?”

“[Yes, I can arrange it,]” he answered, “but his highness is not here.  He’s out of town.”

“Oh?”

“He will return in 2-3 days.”

I told him I was flexible and I gave him my card.  He told me we’d be in contact in the next day or two to discuss a specific appointment with the maharaja when he was back in Jaipur.

“What will you ask him?” Mr. Pratikshit asked.

“Just what it’s like to be the maharaja.  Like a day-in-the-life.”

“His highness had a stroke a while back and can not answer many questions.”

“When?”

“Fifteen, twenty years ago.”

“Oh.”

“So I’m not sure if he can answer.  It will just be a courtesy to meet him and take pictures.” 

Whew, that takes the pressure off of me.  “It’s okay, whatever I can get for a story idea.”

We exchanged phone numbers before I left his office.  I hoped he would look up my credentials on the URL I gave him to see that I had some sort of legitimacy as a journalist and wasn’t just some nut job on the street.


I TOOK ADVANTAGE OF MY FREE PASS inside the City Palace complex, built by order of Jaipur Singh II (founder and namesake of Jaipur) in 1729, and checked out the armory museum, the Diwani-I-Khas (Hall of Private Audience, picture above) with its chandeliers and carved arches, and the Peacock Gate, which led to the courtyard in front of the Chandra Mahal (the maharaja’s residence).  Near the marble-carved Mubarak Mahal (which housed a textile museum), two musicians played music as the soundtrack for a nearby puppet show

Afterwards I walked passed the Jama Masjid mosque and just wandered around the bazaars inside the Pink City, the old city of which the City Palace was in the center of, a fairly big section of town surrounded by a fortification wall built in the 18th century by order of Maharaja Jai Singh, which was painted pink in 1856 during the British occupation when Prince Albert came for a visit.  (He had a thing for pink.)  The bazaar to jaded old me was a familiar scene, with stores selling everything from saris to hardware, spices to shoes, amidst the camels pulling carts nearby, the traffic of cars and motorscooters whizzing by and the sacred cows loitering any way they wanted like stray dogs.

Cows were a no-no on the menu at the local McDonald’s where I had a bite to eat, since my stomach was a bit off from the Indian food I’d been eating.  I needed a jolt back into standardized Western fast food for a change since I felt a little queasy in the tummy, which wasn’t the worst thing ever.  Things could have been worse; I read and heard from Canadians Angie and Denise (Egypt) that the latest scam in India was that restaurants purposely taint your food so that you have to pay or deal with sales pitches before receiving the antidote to the poison you just drank.

Anyway, regardless of the lack of poison in my strawberry shake, Jaipur so far was my favorite in the India tourist “Golden Triangle,” a geographical triangle formed with Delhi and Agra — and if I got to meet the maharaja before I left, it would be even better.  I’m sure The Blog would be happy with it too.






Next entry: Monkeys, Elephants and Pangkot Palace

Previous entry: Playing The Game




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Comments for “Jaipur Introduction”

  • First….

    I agree - Jaipur was one of my fav places too (Taj being my first) - I loved the City Palace!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:22 PM


  • they poison your food???!!! that’s not right. isn’t that illegal? can’t you get the law enforcement to arrest these scam artists? it is one thing to cheat you of money, but when they threaten your health, you should have even right to kick their asses. btw, nice shot of the pus filled hole in the leg. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:26 PM


  • First!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:27 PM


  • stupid refresh button! any who, Jaipur looks beautiful. hope you get your interview. that would be pretty cool! any who, i was wondering how the food in india was treating you. keep us informed (pictures NOT necessary wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:29 PM


  • Yup, the Indiana Jones/Temple of Doom hidden references just keep on coming… 

    NEXT UP:  My visit to Pangkot Palace

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:36 PM


  • You give me Nurhachi— I give you the antidote.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  03:45 PM


  • VOTE IF YOU CAN!!!

    so how many of you voted out there? I casted my vote! now lets see how we do! N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  04:52 PM


  • Hey Erik

    We didn’t make it to Jaipur, because those creepy Agra jewel smugglers started following us everywhere.
    The fort is supposed to be great.
    It’s like deja vu reading your India entries.  Have a great time.
    and….that is one nasty hole.

    Angie

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  05:18 PM


  • I don’t know if you’re riding on trains, but apparently it’s similar: they drug you, and then rob you - so I guess that’s different…

    Beautiful woodwork (if it is wood) and peacock gate - pics as usual are gorgeous. That initial hall is awesome…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  05:22 PM


  • Oh, and that leg hole is spiffy!!

    I voted - absentee last weekend!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  05:33 PM


  • Beware the monkeys!

    http://asia.news.yahoo.com/041102/ap/d863k83o0.html

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  07:33 PM


  • that hole is looking nasty and infected. eww..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  11:00 PM


  • Jaipur looks beautiful!

    Posted by Liz  on  11/02  at  12:38 AM


  • Mr. E. Go see a doctor, you need professional help to clean out that pus….. I dont know where you are headed off next, but perhaps an antibiotic injection or two, while in jaipur would help. Jaipur would have doctors, other cities would not. I used to stay at Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar, which is in the old city. It is a cute hotel with an excellent restaurant downstairs. they had a good doctor on call. please go there and have this checked out. take care

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/02  at  02:13 AM


  • Erik:  that hole should have been packed. Believe me, I know, I had the same thing about 6 months ago.  In order for it to heal from the inside out it needs to be packed with thin cotton strips soaked in saline and kept covered. The packing is changed daily.  If it closes up and there is air in there it will become infected and then you’ll be in real trouble.  I’ll try to find a website for you that tells you how to pack a wound.  Or get to a clinic and let them show you how to do it. After 3 weeks, mine healed over with no scar!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/03  at  12:06 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Monkeys, Elephants and Pangkot Palace

Previous entry:
Playing The Game




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