A land of many flavors, jewelry, saris – a rainbow of colors to be exact; My first stop in Rajasthan was Jaipur. Somewhere between relaxing in Rishikesh and the Taj Mahal I realized that I needed to slow down my whirlwind pace of India and soak in a city. I was really digging the Mughal style architecture so when I heard that Jaipur was full of great places to see and was known as the “Pink City” I knew it would be love at first sight. The only problem was the Pink City, isn’t really pink – it’s more like a burnt orange but I didn’t hold it against them. Jaipur is stocked with forts, palaces, museums and most dangerously things to buy! I ended up staying in the hectic jumble of Jaipur for a healthy dose of days, met some interesting people and had a few curious mini-adventures.
The Hawa Mahal is an extraordinary place to linger and catch at different lights because of all the stained glass, the punctures in the stonework and the mysterious honeycomb building. On a side note: I think if I was going to be part of a concubine, this would have been up there on the places to chill with the other ladies and wait for my turn.
Everyday I would walk from my guesthouse to the old city. I didn’t realize at first but one particular day I ended up on a route that took me straight through the muslim area where I was the only woman not covered and even worse I was toting around a camera and a backpack. I definitely got a few stares, shoved because I wasn’t moving fast enough on the narrow path and screamed at for taking pictures of old ladies; overall though the people were friendly and just as curious of me as I was of them. I also had the sweetest woman thread my brows and give me a “facial” for only $3 – only in India!
I met a few local gem dealers, well actually they met me – I am apparently an easy target for the local sales pitch. I wasn’t in the market for any gems but after spending some time on the streets I couldn’t help but get the itch for a new scarf. One of my new gem friends had a friend (as they always do) who was in the textile biz – woah, lucky for me since I don’t know how in the world I would have managed to find one on my own… I spent a few hours lost in the friends textile showroom scouring through bedspreads, silk scarves, cashmere pashminas, pillowcases and other such items. These shops are like casinos, there are no windows so you have no idea what time it is, the colors and textures are mesmerizing and they ply you with so many cups of chai that you eventually become delirious and high on sugar. Once I was down for the count they milked me like an old lady at a slot machine, I just couldn’t say no or get up to leave with the fear of missing out on something fabulous. I’ll spare you the more gruesome and agonizing details of how I couldn’t make up my mind because there was just too many choices. I will tell you that I wasn’t going to schlep a bunch of shit, I mean scarves, around for the next few months. I decided to put my faith into the Indian GPO (Government Post Office) and send my little nugget of gold home by sea. Let’s put it this way, the fact that this hand stitched fabric sack, dotted with candle wax seals and a tiny little piece of paper acting as postage made it to my parents house in under 2 months is slightly short of a miracle!