Guys I am back, I came back on Monday and have been a bit busy after coming back. I did go around the blog world reading things I missed over the last ten days, and here I am today sharing some of the tidbits, few thoughts that sprang in my mind during my vacation. I promise there will be more to follow.
*Indian railways has changed so much over the years, I remember the old days when we used to travel to Rajkot/Ahmedabad, the problems we used to have during the journey, the dirty toilets we had to put up with and the filthy seats/berths in the coaches. What surprised me most during this journey, was the outlook of the people which has changed, long time back I used to find people playing cards, gossiping, reading newspapers or simply eating through to their destination. Look what the IT world has bought, I see people watching movies on laptops and Ipods now, I see people playing solitaire on their ipods, portable DVD players, I hear mobile phone ringtones every few seconds. Cleanliness too has improved a lot, stations have been designated as cleaning stations, where people wearing jump suits wait for the train to come to a standstill, they bring on automated cleaners to clean toilets and wash basins, and even mops every now and then inside the coaches. Food is delivered on demand to the travelers, all packed in aluminum foils and disposable trays.
*Even though I spent most of my journey time playing cards with my family and cousins, [almost at one point I had won 270Rs], the best part of the journey was the 20 minutes I spent alone sitting on the steps of the coach, with the door open and wind running onto the face, man that bought some clarity to my mind, and a great deal of satisfaction.
*It appears that no recent train journeys seem to pass without my encounter with a female, remember this?, this one too had its fair share. My gaze seem to catch more women these days, I saw this shy female in our coach, sitting a little far from my place, you know the kind of instant attraction, great choice of color for dressing, the right amount of smile, and a book in hand. Sad I am a coward, didn’t even walk up to her and ask her name.
*Another thing which annoys me on almost every single journey of mine, is a crying baby near my seat. I mean I have traveled on air, on water, on road, everywhere I get stuck with a crying baby which annoys the hell out of me. This time for a change there was none on the first day and a half part of my journey, just when I thought the spell is broken, I see a lady coming in with a small kid, there went my night’s sleep. Whats this with crying babies and me.
*As we landed in Jaipur and entered our hotel, one thing that struck all of us was the way rooms were organized, we had a common living room into which all three rooms opened up into and a small kitchen to tag along, almost like a service apartment. We had booked three rooms, so no one else could come into the living room, we had it all for ourselves, it had a nice sitting place with couches all around, and antique furniture around, we just loved the place. All of us used the room just to sleep and use the bathroom, rest of the time you could find us sitting on the couch talking and laughing. God!, all of us loved the place.
*First place we visited in Jaipur, was the Birla Laksmi Narayan temple, a beautiful structure all built up in marble, the day was extremely hot, and we were asked to remove our shoes, prepared to perform the brake dance through hot sun, we stepped onto the temple premises, what a surprise it was, cold slabs of marble even in that hot sun. A lovely experience.
*City palace and Jantar Mantar were really tiring, long hours spent walking up and down the palace, the museum and lot of other places, The astronomical tools in Jantar Mantar are mind boggling. The rajasthani mataka kulfi sold all around was a pleasant relief in that high temperature.
*Evening was spent shopping in Johri Bazaar, walking through highly crowded Diwali shoppers, all I could see were glittering dresses, and handicrafts. I found the LMB a mishtan place, supposedly a very famous sweet shop in Jaipur, well that was fun. I did buy a pair of Jodhpuri shoes made of camel skin, which I later found out was fake and each shoe of the pair looks of different color. All in all a tiring day.
*Next day started with a heavy breakfast buffet, a couple of boiled eggs, alu parathas, and toasts. My mom could not believe how much I could eat. She hardly gets to see me eat that way at home
*Amer fort and Jaigarh fort were to be our main destinations of the day, and man they were huge. The best part is how clean they have maintained the fort, and views it has to offer. The royalty of the place is clearly visible. I chose not to ride elephants, nor camels en-route.
*For the first time in India I got to see use of Radio guides in these forts, I was impressed, so I went and rented one for myself. The rest of the gang chose to opt for the usual human guide. Radio guide meant that I was stuck long behind the rest of the gang as I wandered the palace alone, that was real fun. You know the laid back kind of stroll, listening to the history of the place. But one thing though, radio guide was a real flop in places because, the numbers are so difficult to find, you end up searching a lot, and getting frustrated at the end. The directions need to be made more clear, and the path to follow from one place to another as the fort is huge.
*As I said earlier I chose not to ride the elephant, some people in the gang wanted to do that, so they decided to ride upto the fort once again, as I along with few others waited at the foot hills of the hillock. As we were waiting, we chose to go visit a small garden which was being built near the foot hills, glad we did that. The place was very beautiful and view of the fort from the garden was excellent. I also got to see the new marble fountains being installed there.
* Lunch followed the visit to Jaigarh fort, in a local restaurant. This has to be top two worst meals I have had in the trip, the taste was bad, and was extremely filthy place. The fact that I overheard a customer complaining that the roti’s were being prepared close to the toilets, made me feel even worse about the place, a forgettable experience.
*Last evening in Jaipur was spent in Chowki Dhani, a resort of types which offers a close look into the rajasthani traditions, a little expensive by general standards, but I think it was worth the money. Arts and handicrafts, A local mela kind of atmosphere, and the authentic rajasthani speaking people around. The jewel in the crown was the dinner we had there, filled with all Rajasthani delicacies, mani types of rotis made out of local cereals, sabji’s made out of things which I cannot name, Dal bhati and choorma made out of pure ghee, the Malpoa a superb sweet dish, and lots and lots more. I ate so much that my stomach got hit with indigestion the next day.
more tidbits to follow……………….