Choking smokers

Jaipur, Wednesday night. A trip to the Raj Mandir – the best cinema house in Jaipur, and possibly all of India. It might not look much from the outside, but the inside is an art deco masterpiece. The auditorium is huge, like a theatre.

Tickets are sold outside the building, and there are separate queues for men and women. Kerry and Ian get in their respective queues, however security get Ian out of the queue soon enough, explaining that Kerry can buy tickets for both, and that the women’s queue is shorter.

Security is maintained in the queue, which by the way is created using fixed barriers. Males standing near, but not in the queue are moved along, with a forceful shove in the back if needs be. Ditto for any man trying to have a chat to any of the women in the queue.

There are different price categories, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond and a Diamond Premium, which is what we opt for. Although the audience is small, they don’t let Indian Interlude down, by whooping, hollering and cheering in all the right places. Of course Indian Interlude is at the disadvantage of no subtitles, but is confident it has the gist.

We leave at intermission in preparation for tomorrow’s early start. We stand on the road outside the cinema watching the fireworks display associated with a wedding which is taking place maybe 200 metres up the road.

We draw a small crowd, of course, one of whom engages us in the usual conversation. Where are we from, how long in India, where are we going, I love Australians, etc. He then says he would like to gift us two Rajasthani puppets which he produces from his bag. We display appropriate gratitude and he asks if perhaps we have a gift for him? Maybe some Australian currency he can show his family? Reader, the name of this blog is now officially Indian Gullible.

We have a 5:30am alarm call to accommodate our Thursday schedule. By the time we check out and overload the car we are 15 minutes late. First stop, Amber Fort. Indian Interlude takes an elephant ride to the top of the hill, and despite being on the back of a moving elephant, hawkers are still keen to sell their wares. Indian Interlude has been sufficiently off the tourist beat lately that we had forgotten how bad the hawkers can be.

We dismount the elephant and embark on a quick-ish tour of the fort. Impressive and imposing from the outside, it is beautiful and gorgeous in parts on the inside. The design of the connection between rooms, palaces and courtyards is extraorinary, as is the rainwater harvesting, use and re-use system.

Our next stop is New Delhi, via Abhaneri to visit the step-well there. This is some two hours drive away. None of the road signs are using Roman letters, so we have no idea where we are, but after an hour we deduce the driver has forgotten about Abhaneri and is intent on getting home to Delhi as quickly as possible.

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