After I dyed my hair pink, I decided to visit the Pink City of India during its peak summers. Not sure how the weather was years ago, but when I visited it this time, it was HOT. My poor Hush Puppies have faced the sizzling temperatures that I had experienced only back in the Gulf where you can feel your face burn with the heat waves rising from the Earth. You can imagine what they have been through because of their direct contact with it. If I think about it, I, somehow, wind up spending the school holidays in extremely hot places as opposed to the cool place I presently live in. And this time, I inattentively left my SLR camera back home so my barely used iPhone became my only hope to create memories this summer.
Amber, as it was initially known, was re-baptized to Jaipur, during the rule of Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh. When I stepped into the city, I was curious as to why it was called the Pink City as I couldn’t see anything pink about it. My daughter and I were excited to see pink all around us, in vain. When we arrived, it was after midnight, so black was all we saw; pitch black.
Lodged at our friends’ place, the day began with besan ki barfi, kachoris and a sandwich, stuffed with onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, for breakfast. Generally, according to my friend, normal people enjoyed this with tea, unlike me who had no such interest or addiction. I relished it with a glass of fresh watermelon juice. We had lunch at a dhaba (a roadside food-stall), which looked more like the king’s outhouse; divergent to the ones I’ve been scared to enter all my life. I missed clicking a picture of it as I was busy saving my skull from being fried under the sun and when in the car, was distracted by the camel-cart in the middle of the road, something that I hadn’t seen despite my twenty-five years of living in the Gulf.
We got home and decided to leave the kids with their fathers and head out to shop in the famous Bapu Bazaar. The streets were lined with shops selling the local handicraft items and oxidized jewelry and I went bonkers even though I am not a shopaholic. I bought items worth a few thousands in less than fifteen minutes and we had covered more than fifteen shops by then. Yes, I shop fast. I have no patience, whatsoever, to slowly try and buy things after thinking about them for hours.
My friend, already bored with the shopping, dragged herself behind an excited me, who asked all the shopkeepers for only a choli (an Indian short sleeved bodice) along with actions on how you wear it. They looked scandalized because normally women bought the whole outfit; top and skirt, and I just wanted the sexy top. My friend and I enjoyed looking at their reactions but she still missed her evening tea which she required to stay awake at that time. We bargained a lot and I bought handmade Jaipur slippers, handbags, mobile pouches, umbrellas, pom-pom earrings and a bunch of oxidized jewelry (which my skin does not approve of).
After we called the driver, we realized we had talked so much that we did not notice when and where we had turned because in spite of our U turn, we were lost and had to take an auto rickshaw to get to where he waited for us. Maybe it was a good thing as these rickshaws looked quite different from the ones back home and I was thrilled to be seated in one of them, even if it was for just a few minutes.
We met a few more friends for dinner and left the kids at home with the nanny. Somewhere past midnight, we headed to a Muslim joint, that initially none of us women wanted to enter, that prepared and sold the best nihari (a stew consisting of slow-cooked meat mainly beef or lamb along with bone marrow) in town. There was no call from the nanny and over our mouths full of niharis, we assumed that all was well and the children had gone to bed. I was amazed that someone other than me had gotten my daughter to sleep. Happily, we went home only to find my daughter wide awake and the nanny in slumber land after waiting patiently for her to sleep. My little one was waiting for me to sing her a lullaby so she could sleep. I am not sure if I ever felt so guilty for getting home so late before. Kids!
The next day began with exciting drives at the BMW experience tour where I drove a sedan as well as an SUV X5. I was the only female driver during that batch and decided that I was no longer Michael Schumacher who would drive at 140kmph once upon a time. We celebrated the pleasurable experience by gobbling up some spicy but delicious kheema baati (two huge round flour balls deep fried and stuffed with spicy minced mutton) before we went to have a look at the Hawa Mahal in the heart of the city. I wasn’t too interested in getting into the Palace (essentially a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside) so I shopped outside it and finally found the sexy choli. And I saw the brownish pink colour of the city that did not excite me much as it wasn’t the bright pink I had imagined it to be.
Instead of leaving the kids to snooze in the car, we decided to carry them on our strong shoulders, avoiding the thoughts of an eventually cracking spinal cord. I’m glad we took that decision because we got some cute and memorable snaps of us all in the dazzling Jaipur City Palace. The architecture from those days continue to overwhelm me when I imagine those slaves and peasants working on each of the walls, doors or even a tower outside the palace. Their work was so intricate but eventually turned out to be breathtakingly exquisite.
After more than a couple of hours in the Palace, we went to view the Amir Palace across the river. By then, my husband and I were certain that we had to come here once again as none of us had the strength to walk up to that stunning fort carrying our offspring on our backs. My Hush Puppies on the other hand were still going strong and all set to visit the next hot leg of our journey.
For more pictures, do visit: JAIPUR PICTURES