Got Kolkata, Been to Benares, Vied for Agra, Jaded Pink in Jaipur…
My train from Varanasi to Agra left three hours late, so by the time it arrived it was eight hours late, of course, thus throwing my whole schedule for the day off. What was intended to be a brief stopover in Agra for the Taj and maybe the Red Fort became an overnight fast crash and an early morning tour of the world-famous masjid and mausoleum. The only problem is that it delayed my arrival in Jaipur by a full day, confusing my hotel booking. Such are the trials and tribs of travel.
So I enlisted a fellow traveler named Yoshi—from Japan, of course—to help mitigate my lodging conundrums on what was admittedly a bit pricey to begin with… $15 a night, yeow! With him sharing and the hotel finally not charging for the unclaimed night, I came out okay. I think that’s only because I didn’t protest when they initially indicated I’d have to pay all three nights as booked. I just shrugged—and sulked—Indian-like, rather than protest American-like. They caved. Score one for the soft touch.
Indians are okay, really. I’ve think I’ve developed a common wave-length with them, and maybe a head-wag, also. Yoshi’s a nice guy, too; but he’s got a bad cold. So I give vitamins to him. He apologizes in advance if I get it, but I assure him bacteria have got nothing on me. I once kissed a TB patient on the lips every day, but never got the bug. Chemical imbalances are my problem.
Unfortunately Jaipur doesn’t rate too highly on most backpackers’ agenda, and there’s a reason why: it tends to be largely uninspiring. That’s at least partly a perceptual problem and partly a structural one, and not really so accurate. The ‘Pink City’, as it’s known, is limited to one fair-sized area, and is a fairly interesting medieval-like district. The problem is that you’re not likely to be staying there, or even anywhere near there.
The hotels and guesthouses all seem to be elsewhere, for what reason I don’t know. There don’t even seem to be any restaurants there, just one massive commercial area that must date back a ways, all rights reserved, no doubt, selling more goods than the average Net-head could even imagine. It’s not at all convenient, either, except to the City Palace and Jantar Mantar, which serve as the city’s main tourist sights, and the latter of which is a truly trippy ancient observatory.
At least the modern city has a modern espresso joint, something I haven’t seen since Vanaras, and possibly the first I’ve seen intended for locals only. That says something in a society comprised mostly of dirt poor and filthy rich. If I were stuck here another day I’d check it out. Sometimes the non-backpacked areas offer other rewards.
Genuine interaction with locals is still the Holy Grail. At least WiFi has become a non-problem after the initial Kolkata DryFi. But it’d be nice to find a truly more pleasant urban experience. Next stop is Jodhpur.