JAIPUR, ALSO KNOWN AS THE PINK CITY, RECEIVED MUCH CONFUSION ON ITS STREET when the odd-looking trio take in all its main attractions. Emilie, a Belgian French and his Senegali French boyfriend, Gueye are an uncommon couple. “Black and white?” the people would say when they see them holding hands, “This is impossible!”. With me added in, the yellow-skinned East Asian, the three of us left Jaipurians staring in confusion and curiosity.
“Which country?” passersby would ask, some taking photos of us on their phones. “Which country?” they would repeat with their limited English. Although we enjoyed the attention, we had to attend to our main goal of sightseeing. Emilie, being a hard bargainer, got us a tuk-tuk for a full day of transportation at Rs 450. We hopped on happily and went first to the Central Museum.
We took pictures outside the museum, with Emilie chasing after the pigeons and me posing in front of the building. Then our tuk-tuk driver changed his mind and asked for Rs 800. The confused and non-English speaking driver tried to increase our fare but we left to find another one. Once again, Emilie found one for Rs 500 which was fair enough.
The cenotaphs of the earlier Maharanis was interesting but a little under-maintained. The lake palace has charming reflections on the water but only good for a quick photo. There was one unusual temple which has all religions in it which was really cool. The Hindu gods, Sikh gurus and Buddha were all worshiped together.
The beautiful Lake Palace which is currently not accessible
This is the temple that celebrates the diversity of religion. Look at the Sikh gurus, Buddha and Hindu lords all worshiped together
Emilie mingling around with the local women
AMBER, THE ANCIENT CAPITAL OF JAIPUR, HAS A FORT THAT IS WORTH VISITING. Although it is 30km away from the city, the reddish fort surrounding the neighboring hills, is stunning to look at, and is similar to the Great Wall of China. Elephants give rides to the top of the fort, but I only took a couple of photos of them. (Gueye and Emilie probably took more than 20) Views from the top are amazing, but most of the fort is empty rooms and corridors. Black Gueye, white Emilie and yellow me braved the maze-like fort structure in search of a staicase to a higher floor. We did not find one, but was happy getting lost.
“200 Rupees for 10,” a boy said to Emilie, showing her some beautifully decorated pens. “100 Rupees for 10,” the boy pleaded again after receiving numerous no’s from Emilie. After a few minutes of bargaining, she finally got it for Rs 70.
“She’s good,” I said to Gueye, “Ya, she’s proud of it,” said Gueye. Emilie smiled with pride. “Always ask for half the price, you’ll know they are making enough money.” she said with thorough common sense and seasoned shopper-ish.
Having done all the sites, we traveled back on our tuk-tuk with contend. But, when we entered the old city, there was a terrible traffic jam and we never expected to get out of it. Our tuk-tuk then gave an incredible performance of Indian driving skills and whizzed us out in no time. Several close calls with cows, pedestrians and buses left the French couple screaming in shock. I screamed too but was enjoying the ride until… 5km from our place, the tuk-tuk broke down.
“Quite an eventful day huh?” I asked them. “Typical India,” So, the three of us went walking back home, while the stares from locals continued. “We are a very unusual group, aren’t we?” said Gueye. I agreed, but even with our unmatching skin color, India always wins with her unpredictable awkwardness.
The majestic Amber fort from afar
Elephants carry tourists up and down the fort
The very heavily decorated Amber fort