Monday, Jaipur. We arrive roughly on time a little before 5:00am at Jaipur Junction. The station and its immediate precinct is incredibly busy. Thankfully our hotel is quite close to the station so the car journey is brief. After the registration formalities we both opt for sleep, with a plan to make breakfast before the kitchen closes. Regular readers will anticipate that Kerry stays in, whilst Ian goes out. Apart from being surrounded by around a dozen young men, all of whom request a photo shaking my hand, the other curiosity is a large open-air lawyers’ market. We have no better explanation, we are near the district court and it looks like this is where lawyers meet their clients.
Jaipur was established fewer than 300 years ago, as India’s first planned city. Of nine rectangles in the old city, three were reserved for Royal purposes, the other six were each allocated to specific trades. On what we have seen it is less litter prone, and has wider streets than other Indian cities. We take a late afternoon walk, exploring the bazaar and cuisine therein. The market is quite something, and has its own sense of order. We think our guide has a sweet tooth, because most of the cuisine we try belongs at the end of a meal. One dish in particular, made with condensed milk, is unbelievably good.
Lack of planning sees us take dinner in the hotel. The food is average, and well over-priced. There is also entertainment in the form of music from harmonium and mrindigram, and a dancer. This dancer also seeks the cooperation of individual western women to mirror the dance moves and those who have a go are good sports indeed.
Tuesday we head to Sanganeer, previously a separate town, these days simply a suburb of Jaipur. We go to see some handmade paper production (the area is well known for this), although we have already witnessed the process in Pondy.
We’re then anticipating some hand made block printing of fabric, but instead are led to a handicrafts emporium which hosts tourists from the Palace on Wheels train. We may have said this previously, we have seen too many of these shops, and no desire to see another. We exit as quickly as possible, and I think our guide is shocked when I provide a blunt assessment of the experience.
During the afternoon we visit a good bookshop, an average Italian restaurant, a very good clothing store, a very average government-run handicrafts shop, and a very nice indeed jewellery shop. Dinner at a restaurant on the suggestion of our auto-rickshaw driver – close to excellent.