Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Freewheelin’ in India - Day 13: Pretty pink city stink

Arriving once more in New Delhi, around 7am, we hopped on a rickshaw which took us to the train station, where we had a two hour wait before rolling on to Jaipur. We were both feeling as worn out as street beggars’ sandal, but luckily, for the first time ever since the Indian Railway started its service, the train was actually on time. Even luckier, it was a sleeper train, and we each had a pull down bed to catch up on some of the numerous hours’ sleep we’d been missing.
Five hours later we were ferried by a guy named Ali over to a hotel named Karne Niwas that Wesley had recommended but it was full, so our driver took us to this place called Vaishnavi, a palatial looking joint, that I could only compare to a double-A boob in a double-D wonderbra. The room was dogshit, dirty everywhere, stained sheets, and the closest thing we had to a window was a circular hole in the wall, leading to the outside, where a fan must have previously been fitted. There were two similar holes, but they’d been gracefully stuffed with fibreglass insulation, and had two or three pages of newspaper cellotaped over them, which had worn out and was hanging off. Regardless, we couldn’t deal with searching further, and it was marginally better than a shit-filled street, so we took a much needed shower, then hit the roof restaurant for lunch, before waiting for Ali, who was going to take us to a few places.

After waiting thirty minutes with no sign of him, we let some other hustler drop us at the walls of Jaipur’s famous pink city, which was painted a salmon pink colour by Sawai Ram Singh for the Prince of Wales’ visit in 1853. Within the pink walls were an unending chain of small shops, offering all manor of goods at prices that would make Poundland seem extortionate. After a while roaming the streets we stopped into a little local joint that were making fresh chappatis on a fire as we walked past. No one could speak English, but we still managed to score some rice, three different spicy concoctions, two chappatis and two popadoms for 90 ruppees. It was a delightful bite to eat, and I enjoyed displaying my great masculinity by scoffing all of their spiciest dip, before guzzling a bottle of water to extinguish my stupidity.
We got back to our hotel around 10pm, then went back up to the roof restaurant for a bottle of pop (I decided upon arrival that I’d aim to avoid alcohol whilst out here, and have so far stayed drier than the Sahara). I got chatting to a guy named Lucky who hobbled about with a painful looking limp. I wondered if his name was tongue-in-cheek, like calling a fat guy ‘Slim’. He was a puppeteer and said how puppetry had been in his family for seven generations, but how whereas before they would perform for up to three hours, they now only get five minutes. He offered me a performance and I excitedly accepted, watching his cousin Vikky bring each doll to life and run around the rooftop as Lucky provided the beats on his bongo. Later during conversation he invited me to join his family and people in the slums for lunch the following afternoon, and we exchanged numbers, but after hearing how they’d asked Sarah crude questions in my absence I decided that they could go and fuck themselves. Back in our boiling, beautiful bedroom, we hopped over the fence, following the sheep that we’d been counting, and finally reached the green field of dreams.

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