Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We arrived at the Jodhpur train station to the typical clamour of tuk-tuks and hotel hawkers. As usual, we tried to avoid the drivers who were shouting "Where you go??" at us and opted for someone who wasn't so abrasive. The first guy we spoke to tried to convince us to go to a different hotel, but our second try was met with a quiet nod of aquiescence. The drive was very short so we were at our hotel within a matter of moments. At the reception desk we ran into a snag when they couldn't find our reservation. They searched and searched to no avail. Meawhile we filled out all the necessary paperwork and commenced to signing our souls away. They collect so much information from you whenever you check into a hotel: passport number, visa number, home address, previous hotel, next city, etc. It's a pain to fill it all out every time you switch hotels, but what can ya do? They managed to find us a decent little room and we left them to figure out the rest of the reservation confusion. Trying to find somewhere to eat dinner was frustrating because there seemed to be almost no restaurants nearby. There were plenty of small shops, but no food stalls. We ended up at a little place close to the train station where you didn't actually choose what you ordered. There was only one meal on the menu and if you sat at one of the six, dirty, small seats then that's what they brought you. It was a pretty good thali though, and the short scruffy owner had a friendly and pleased smile on his face as we enjoyed our food. On the walk back I got a small hint of what it might be like to travel alone in India as a female. Chuck managed to dash across the road before I realized there was an opening, so we were stuck on opposite sides of the street waiting for another lull in traffic. In the minute or so that I was standing there alone watching the traffic, two seperate men passed me and then stopped, turning to look at me with contemplative expressions. They didn't seem sinister - more like they were considering coming to my resuce or something. But if within thirty seconds on my own two men took that much interest in me, I was glad I had Chuck to travel with me.

On the 5th we headed out to the local fort: Mehrangarh Fort. We checked out the garden first. It was nice to see so much greenery for once! Rajasthan being the desert state and all, stretches of trees and plants weren't common. We were also stopped for photos with a few Indian guys. They were quite nice about it and I suppose we were getting a bit used to being asked to pose for photos, so we didn't mind much. After our glamour shots we opted to walk to the top of the fort where all the good stuff was rather than pay for the elevator ride that was available. There was a lot of Haveli-like architecture that was gorgeous, and a few decadent rooms containing thrones of different sorts. One room was filled with old ornate cradles and cribs that were quite interesting. After the fort we headed just down the road to the Jaswant Thada. While walking we passed by a couple of stray dogs and made our customary kissy noises at them - we love to do this and see their dirty little ears perk up at us. One dog however, got so excited that he hopped up and followed us almost the whole way, a distinct doggie-grin on his face the entire time! I felt so guilty at having led the poor bugger on and then not putting out... If only I'd had a sausage in my pocket. The Jaswant Thada consisted of a number of tombs, burials and a beautiful white temple. Inside the temple we discovered that we could see the sun shining through some of the white marble "bricks" that made up the walls. Chuck went outside and put his hand in front of one of the blocks of stone and I could see his shadow move across it from inside! They were thick chunks of stone too so it was kind of cool. Outside the temple was a young, smooth skinned boy playing a drum and singing in a high, clear voice. In fact, I thought he had such a nice voice and look that I decided to tip him and get a photo. He just smiled quickly and went on with his singing and drumming. The tuk-tuk ride back was a tad frustrating because the driver kept insisting he would take us to his friends textile shop. He only gave up when Chuck practically yelled at him that if he didn't take us to the central market then he would not be getting paid. That seemed to finally get the point across and he gave up on the textiles. From the market we got some food, looked for a bangle shop with no sucess, and finally went back to the hotel.

We were woken up by the sounds of young girls running up and down the halls on the 6th which greatly annoyed me. Turned out the hotel had apparently been taken over by a bunch of young highschool-aged girls, and young high-school aged girls are basically the same everywhere. They like to talk and giggle and gossip and make noise. We ended up talking a bit to some of the girls later in the day though - just the basics like "Where are you from?" and things like that. They were somewhat shy so the conversation was led by one bold girl who seemed to be having a silent power struggle with another nearby girl. She gave the girl some serious evil eye at one point. But it really seemed that they had the same inclinations as teenagers in the west: trying to look nice, gossiping, chatting, giggling, wrestling for power in the group, etc. It's more interesting to me when I notice the similarities between different cultures rather than the differences. It seems at times that there are more similarities between people across the world than differences. I haven't been to a lot of places so I obviously don't have an incredibly wide pool of observation to draw from, but I think I've seen a decent enough amount of the world to be able to start developing my little theories. Food though, can be very different and I am truely grateful for that! We had a fabulous set of three curries at the hotel restaurant for lunch that reminded me how tasty Indian food can be. My favorite was a sweet curry whose name I didn't remember unfortunately. Other than that, we hung around the hotel preparing blogs and being lazy. We hadn't been too impressed with Jodhpur so we weren't too motivated to go out and see the city. Besides, we have a soft spot for being lazy.

We woke bright and early on the 7th (why do Indian trains all have to leave so early in the morning??), packed up and checked out. We made our way to the station and found the train with no problems. I ended up sleeping for most of the train ride, so it was pretty uneventful by my recollections... Next stop: Ajmer.

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