Feeding monkeys at the temple - one of them jumped in my lap!
On arrival in Jaipur, I was not very excited. Itâs a big city â˘ 5 million actually â˘ and I was still feeling ill. The first day I spent in bed watching movies. Never left my room. That was a first on this trip actually, but I needed it. The next day I set out, not very excited about seeing more forts and palaces, but I forced myself out the door to see the so-called Pink City. I found my way into the old city and noticed right away, itâs not really pink. I think at sunset maybe it appears so. I was in a bad mood as it was busy here, I had a headache, and my stomach was still not 100%, so I was just stomping around, muttering to myself that I wouldnât be in Jaipur very long.
I cut off the main road and into a side street and right away this fella started chatting with me. I was pretty rude and not interested in talking to him, but he insisted he wasnât out to sell me anything, he just wanted to talk and learn from my culture and I could learn from his. I told him I didnât feel well, but he was persistent, so I finally agreed to yes, have a dang cup âo chai.
Some of them were not so interested in peanuts.
We set off to a spot and chatted, with a friend of his joining us. I wasnât 100% committed to the conversation until they mentioned that this friendâs brother was getting married and asked if I would like to attend the wedding. I perked up at the thought of this and soon realized, these guys were really just interested in chatting.
Paras, the guy who first invited me for chai, asked if I wanted to check out the Monkey Temple. I wasnât keen on another temple, but as I had no interest in really anything, agreed, and off we went on his motorbike. The temple was actually a great. There were three pools, one for women to bathe in, one for men, and one for, you guessed it, monkeys! There were many of them. Paras bought me peanuts to feed them, as it is good luck of course, and we walked around. There were maybe three other tourists there and it was very pleasant. I actually ended up really liking it. It was set into this mountain and the drive in was calming. Afterwards we grabbed lunch and we parted ways, with a time to meet up the next morning.
Ladies' clothes out to dry.
The next day we met and grabbed some more chai.
It turns out Paras has a tab at this chai place and says he spends about 1200 rupees a month, which I figured is about 10 cups of chai a day there! He insists he doesnât spend all his time here but that the shop is just near his school so he takes breaks there. I gave him crap about it anyway (especially because it seems like all the men here sit around drinking chai while the women are busy working!). Off we went to a white marble Jain Temple on a hill with a pretty crazy road to get there. Again, I was the only tourist there, and Paras and I just chatted about life. He is actually very funny. Afterwards we zipped off to bid farewell until later. I was noticing how many stares we got on the roads, and he got lots of âway to goâ nods for having a white chick on his bike. I knew he was enjoying that.
Men's washing area.
I changed into a long skirt I picked up in Pushkar and tried to look less like a grubby traveler.
I wasnât sure what to expect for this wedding. It is wedding season here, so you pass lots of parades and see lots of fireworks at night. After meeting Paras, we set off, finding the right wedding parade. The groom was on a horse and many people were dancing and leading him to the wedding location. We stopped to get pics and while busy enjoying the parade, a little boy came up behind me and grabbed my butt! Now Iâve been here about a month and havenât been grabbed yet. I attributed this to my skirt (probably was just luck up til then tho). I have not worn a skirt here and Paras made some comment about liking women in skirts more â˘ that if I wore one he would never forget it! I shouldâve taken this as a sign, but I couldnât believe the change in the way men looked at me, and then that. Paras did his best to shoo the group of boys away.
This guy stole a shoe and flaunted it by hanging it out this window - the owner threw some peanuts up and as he attempted to catch them, dropped the shoe.
It was crazy how they just stared in astonishment at me. We finally got to the wedding palace and it was packed. Paras said they expected about 3,000 guests. Now everyone invited to weddings invites people, so thatâs how these things get so big. The bride and groom were on a stage, sitting in throne-like chairs while the guests basically ignored them and just visited amongst each other, eating the 60-some dishes available. I was the only non-Indian guest, so you can imagine the looks, but I had an entourage of three guys, including two of Parasâ friends. I was thankful for that later. One of them was on the look out for a wife, so enlisted my help. OK, I just canât wrap my mind around how things work here. This friend explained how you cannot just approach a girl. Once he did at a wedding after too many drinks, offering up his card and asking her to call, which she did the next day to yell at him, telling him she is not that kind of girl.
Watering hole - some of them were brave and dove off the roof of the temple into this pool. And some, well, their friends needed to give them a hand (or push!).
Huh? Anyway, he said all he could do is make eye contact and try to get her to meet him âout back.â
The sari colors are amazing - this is everyday wear!
While explaining this, Jay, the groomâs brother, summoned me to meet the bride and groom. We got on the stage and I felt so nervous. What to say? I donât know them. The groom smiled at me, but the bride gave me the worst look, almost as if saying, âYou b*tch, you get to marry whomever you want!â This was an arranged marriage. Her head was also so loaded with jewelry, making it hard for her to keep her head up (I think). I gave my congrats, grabbed a photo, and then tried to make my way down, stumbling over a young boy.
Such a klutz!
My dates for the wedding (Paras on left). All these guys' families own businesses in the same area of Jaipur. Paras' family has 21 elephants!
I quickly got out of there and we decided to grab some food. We made our way into the packed lines, and some older guy grabbed me as he walked past. I mentioned this to the boys and they quickly got me out of the crunch. They kept such good care of me. They ended up paying one of the servers to fetch food for us so we didnât have to brave the crowds. After a meal, we headed to the dance floor to check things out. It was mostly young kids, including some girls in saris, tearing it up to some Indian tunes. At one point this young lad, very handsome indeed, asked me to dance.
I had to turn him down, thinking Paras may take offense. Some young girls were buzzing around me, staring and daring each other to approach me, so I finally said hello and got their picture. This couple then approached me and was very excited. The wife asked me to dance, so I finally said, what the hell, I donât know these people. She and I jumped on the dance floor and you wouldâve thought a riot was about to start. A shudder went across the place, as if to say, look everyone, the white woman is on the dance floor. I didnât know what to do but just only look at the lady, but I couldnât help but worry about the men around me. They literally were circling me and trying to approach me to dance. Paras sent his friends up there to flank my sides, and the gal kept motioning me to only look at her. We danced but one song, and then promptly got off the floor, with Paras immediately saying, time to go! Oops.
Jay, the groom's brother, doing a little dance.
Shocker! Me holding a baby...someone just handed me this adorable little girl.
We jumped on our bikes and done was my experience at an Indian wedding. Quite the affair â˘ and there is still one more day of festivities. These things can last for five days, even a month, depending upon how money the family has to spend. Crazy. Paras took me to my guesthouse and we made plans for the next day. This morning he wasnât at our meeting spot, but he sent his friend Ahmit instead to be my tour guide for the day. He was the one on the look out for the ladies at the wedding. We first got my train ticket to Agra, and then set out, checking out Parliament and various statues, and eventually riding past the University of Rajasthan.
I noticed a poster that said Moot Court Competition, so I got excited that it had a law school (note: they think it is hilarious when they call me a liar, er lawyer). We turned around to tour the campus, looking for the law building. I noticed a place that said âDeptt. Law,â so we stopped and Ahmit asked some girls coming out about classes. They indicated they were on break, so I just grabbed a photo out front. As we walked back to his bike, Ahmit had a big smile and said it was his first time. I asked if he meant to come to the University, and said no, to talk directly to a girl, that he only did it because of me, and he thanked me and shook my hand with joy. I wanted to laugh, but just smiled so wide at his happiness and mine.
The bride and groom...I can't get over the look on her face.
Jaipur has been a special experience for me.
These guys have made my stay here a blast. Iâve learned so much from them and have had a true travelerâs experience. No guidebook, only the locals to guide me. It is hard when you are woman traveling alone. You donât want to let your guard down, especially with men, and after dealing with some in Jaisalmer and Bundi, I was hesitant to trust their stated intentions, but Iâm glad I relented to that cup of chai with Paras. Iâve made some great friends here. Theyâve been so respectful. I couldnât ask for a better experience. Iâm very sad to go, but I feel the calling to move on. I have but one more night with my âboyfriendsâ here â˘ if they talk to a girl they deem her a girlfriend.
Some admirers at the wedding.
We are checking out Chowki Dahni, some crazy nighttime village of snake charmers and the like. It should be interesting. Until then, I will take a nap and pack before my early train. I plan to meet up with Eoin again in either Agra or Varanasi. Still lots to see in this magical India!
The gal who asked me to dance.