Amber Fort and Bollywood...The Pad Man!

Jaipur Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 17 › view all entries
In the morning, Graham was still not 100%, Elisa was also not feeling well, and Morgan is still dealing with his intestinal issues. I’m starting to feel survivor’s guilt, but I shouldn’t speak too soon! The hotel has an okay breakfast, with mostly Indian items, but also hard boiled eggs, baked beans, fried tomatoes (clearly some Brits come here), and there was an omelet-making station. The service was indifferent though - nobody would come to the table and ask if you needed coffee/tea/chai - you had to bother them for it. They did have espresso and cappuccino, so that made me happy.

Our bus drivers (we have 2 for some reason) drove us first to the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds, which is a gorgeous, intricate building on one of the main streets.

Then on to the Amber Fort. This place was absolutely stunning. The drive up is’s on a tall hill with a fantastic view...and the Hall of Mirrors alone blew me away. It was more impressive than Versailles. The level of detail was unbelievable. The mirrored mosaics on the walls and ceilings were like Persian carpets. We had a good local guide here who gave us a lot of insight into the lives of the royals who lived here...all of which I’ve forgotten, of course. Except that there is lattice work on the 2nd floor so that the Queen and concubines could look down on all the activity in the courtyard without being seen. A lot of the decoration in the castle was very feminine - colors, patterns, etc. Absolutely gorgeous.

This trip has been a bit heavy on the “show you a reputable store” thing. While I do appreciate a few of these (I did buy a carpet at one of them), I would have done less of these on this trip, and I would have made them optional, and offer free time to everyone who’s not interested. Today we went to a jewelry emporium...with a teeny “workshop” room where they were faceting gems, but really it was a huge showroom. It seemed we were assigned a salesman who followed me around, but the prices didn’t seem like any kind of deal. And they didn’t bargain in this place...prices were set by the government. We also went to a textile place - again with a small demonstration by one guy, and then a humongous showroom. There were some things I was interested in here...Morgan and I looked at duvet covers, which we need, but didn’t find anything we wanted to buy...the silk blend ones were around $200USD, and the others were not soft enough.

Half the group went to see the observatoryOL with the world’s biggest sun dial, and some of them went on to the “charming” market, but Mo and I were tired, so we went back to the hotel for a few hours of rest.

Pancham led several of us down the street to the historic movie palace - it was like Jaipur’s version of the El Capitan or the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. It’s a cavernous, renovated 1930’s cinema, with fabulous Art Deco styling. The movie we saw was not the typical Bollywood movie I was expecting...with sweeping epic romance, fight scenes, bad guys, stunts and huge dance numbers. It was called “Pad Man,” and it was a bio-pic - a really good story actually - of a man who made machines which made sanitary napkins for ladies, so that ladies in the village could make pads for 2 rupees each instead of the prohibitive 55 rupees each (which is about a dollar, and the movie takes place in 2000). The guy did it because in Indian culture, especially in small villages, when women menstruate, they are banished to an outside area - a sleeping porch or something - for 5 days. They are considered unclean and can’t be with their husbands, etc. Also, they use unsanitary rags for the job, so he wanted to help his wife, but in the process upset the entire family and village because they thought he was crazy, and it was such a taboo subject...but eventually, he found a woman (a famous lady musician) to help with the cause, and he won all kinds of awards, including one where he spoke to the United Nations in New York. Now his machines are all over the world in rural areas, where women are in charge of production.

Morgan and I grabbed popcorn, Pepsis and pimento sandwiches (the only choice) at the concession stand because the movie started at dinner time, but we were still hungry after. There was a McDonald’s next door, and we wanted to see what the menu was like, seeing as how they don’t serve beef anywhere. Sure enough, their “burgers” were made with potato (“McAloo Tikki Burger”) or spicy, fried cottage cheese (“McSpicy”) and there were chicken sandwiches and fish sandwiches, but they were sold out of nearly half of the menu, so there wasn’t much choice. The fries mostly tasted the same, but weren’t as crispy.

We were trying to get in touch with VJ, our leader from our previous tour who was in town to see his family, but it didn’t work out. Two of our previous tour mates were also in Jaipur, but they posted on Facebook that they had been sick for 5 days and weren’t going out at all! Everybody is sick!!
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photo by: oxangu2