As usual we’re up pretty early to see the sights in Jaipur before moving on to Ranthambhore National Park to see some tigers. But first I need to get a money top up from the ATM. Problem is that the machine says “Account Restricted” and spits my card back out. The (heavily armed) guard tells me to try next door and there I am finally able to make a withdrawal. So if you have a MasterCard then AXIS ATMs are the ones to be on the lookout for.
First stop is Hava Mahal – The Palace of the Wind which is a weird building with lots of balconies where the wives of the Maharaja could stand and look at the regular people without being seen. This stop is just a quick photo stop since that’s really all you can do there, there’s nothing to enter or anything like that. So on to the city palace where we are given a rather uninspiring guide with so-so English. The palace is a bit interesting though but mostly for its exhibits, there’s one where we get to see traditional painting from a local artist. It’s more or less mineral-based water colors and he uses a squirrel hair brush to make the extremely fine lines. I talk a bit with him after the others have left and he tells me he’s starting a travel tour company by himself and wonders what we’ve paid for this trip. I show him my cross stitches and we have a bonding moment there. I ask if I can buy the demonstration drawing he made for us and he gives it to me, talk about a fun souvenir!
We also go to a weapon’s exhibit where a lazy-eyed man in a turban shows us various nasty-looking Sikh stabbing daggers, complete with separating blades and small pistols on the handle. Out on the courtyard we’re apparently honked on by the king of India (at least according to the guide), it’s really busy there since a wedding is being prepared with lots and lots of tagetes flowers which they use to make those flower braids. We’ve surmised that orange is the color of Ganesh, which seems to be the dominant god, at least around Rajahstan. He really is everywhere you look.
After the palace we swing by a textile shop where they use block printing on the fabrics, making beautiful table cloths and bed sheets. It’s really fun seeing it in action and it looks really easy when they do it, but the really hard part is lining up the different layers of the print. The shopkeeper is wonderfully non-pushy and speaks excellent English – the perfect recipe for getting swedes to shop from you! I end up buying a bunch of ties, can’t keep coming to suit-up Friday with the same old ties!
We stop for lunch before leaving Jaipur and I ask for something really spicy. Yet again am I disappointed however. The waiter assures me that it’s really spicy but my nose isn’t even running! I do learn however that Håkan’s wife has lived in Kolbäck where I went to jr high and that they have a daughter two years younger than me which probably went in my brother’s parallel class. Small world!
Our 4-5 hour trip to Ranthambore is cut short though when the bus breaks down in the middle of an intersection. The local seems to think that’s more or less normal though, which it probably is! And while the crew scratch their heads over the motor we hop off the bus and wait over on the sidewalk. You really get the feeling that the crew have no idea what they’re doing when they check the fuses for the third time when the starter engine is clearly running. Eventually someone calls a mechanic who arrives on a scooter 20 minutes later, he does some sort of witchcraft to the motor and suddenly it runs again. The theory is that it was simply overheated.
We don’t arrive in Ranthambhore until well after dark but since food soon is on the table and Ricard, Börje and me warm up with a whiskey before dinner we don’t mind, that’s what happens in India – the country where everything is ad-hoc! Dinner is followed by lots of beer, singing and talking and Petra gets renamed Sister Karlsson.