Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Tiger Fort and a "spiritual" meeting
Jaipur Travel Blog› entry 5 of 26 › view all entries
In the morning I´m going to the GPO to send a postcard to a special person. But being in India, you need your elbows to send one. About 20 Indians are wrestling their way towards the only open counter window, behind which sits a lady who seems to be meditating instead of doing her job, that´s how slow she is. In order to get to the window you have no choice but to use your elbows, shovel your way through the crowd, shout for attention and wave some rupee notes in front of the clerk´s face. Indian people are so peaceful but one thing they have yet to learn is how to stand in line.
After the post office episode I walk to Hawa Mahal, from where I take a bus to Jal Mahal. This “water palace” is located on the middle of Man Sagar lake, just a bit north of Jaipur. I take a few pictures, then have a muffin and a latte machiato (served in an espresso cup) at the café of a petrol station.
Indians love to have their picture taken with a foreigner. Sometimes you notice them trying to secretly take a picture of you, like pretending to take a picture of a wall or something but it´s obvious that you´re in the picture as well. When you notice them, they are even more happy when you allow them to take a good shot at least and in return you can take their picture as well. It´s like a digital culture exchange. Curious children and shy girls greet you with a hesitant “hi” and young men are happy for a handshake. Well, what else to say, the Amber Fort is simply beautiful and should not be missed when in Jaipur.
After having walked around the complex for a good hour, I leave Amber Fort again and from the bus stop take a rickshaw up the mountain to Jaigarh Fort, which stands above Amber Fort.
People in uniforms strike up a conversation and then just start telling you the history of the place or a story about some landmark. It´s obvious they want to be your guide but what they´re telling you is not particularly interesting so it´s best to tell them you don´t need a guide and shake them off. They might say that they are not guides but in the end they´ll want money nonetheless.
After enjoying the views from Jaigarh Fort, I decide to walk the 5 kms to the Tiger Fort. After having walked for about half an hour, I hear a motorbike approaching behind me and even before they overtake me I hear them saying “gora, gora” (gora or gaura means light-skinned person and you hear this word many times when in India).
“Such a feelin´s coming over me. There is wonder in most everything I see. Not a cloud in the sky. Got the sun in my eyes.
As if destiny thinks my day hasn´t been wonderful enough, it introduces me to Rajeev who is sitting on the wall next to me. He´s a diplomat who has been working in Cairo and Kabul before and is about to head to Syria for his next assignment. Rajeev looks like the Indian version of Bud Spencer, and maybe next to him I might even look like Terence Hill. One thing I knew about Rajeev immediately is that he´s a very interesting person. Next to Rajeev there are James from England and Ben from San Francisco. Rajeev offers to give us a lift down to the city. Sitting in his car, the four of us talk about books, recommending our favourite read. From Siddharta to Shantaram to Krishnamurti, on the road and into the wild, a diverse mixture of books.
Back at city level, Rajeev invites us to have dinner with him and his good friend Mohin. We all agree and meet Mohin at a roundabout.
Arriving at a beautiful rooftop restaurant we take a seat at a table and order food, Kingfisher Beer and a sheesha with apple-mint flavour.
James, at being 32 years old, finds himself in a state of doubt and confusion and wants to be more productive. He has been working as an English teacher in Seoul for two years. He admits he drinks too much and takes too much acid. He hasn´t had a girlfriend from the age of 21 to 29, during which time he only “fucked around” and had “like 10 or 20 one night stands”. Now, for the last two years he has been with a 40-year-old American who is a “nutter” but “fucks like a rail”, so since the sex is incredible he doesn´t leave her.
Ben, on the other hand, hasn´t fucked like a rail for at least three years, as he has been celibate due to an enviable decision to find himself first before finding a woman. “The essence of what I have taken from my years alone is this: the trick to finding a woman is first to find yourself! If we can come to know ourselves, even a little, and step away from all of these exterior projections of 'who we are,' our profile as it were, women will come from the fields and the mountains.
Ben sleeps on rooftops, and I don´t mean in rooftop restaurants or the like, I mean on bare concrete rooftops. He is hitchhiking around India, the country to which an inner calling has brought him, and when he meditated in sheer silence next to a busy road, he found Rajeev and Rajeev found us.
“Rajeev found all of us. First he found me and within moments there was a connection. Oh, how the world opens to a man with a big heart, and how I fall into it. Then in some spontaneous convergence you both came along for the ride. Surely there is no reason for any of this. Reasons happen only afterwards. The truth is we have all been blessed by our meeting and the words and the love we have shared.
Ben is also an aspiring and upcoming writer and with his skill of eloquent ways of expressing himself, with his verbal and written artistry, I have no doubt he will succeed in his goal. He´s only 21 years old but already managed to sometimes sweep us off our feet with his words and thoughts. I´m usually the skeptical kind of guy who is sometimes reluctant to let other people´s spiritual half-wisdom convince or transform me, but with Ben´s intelligence and wise words even I am convinced after a while that his words are true and real and indeed very special.
In the course of an evening with many drags from the sheesha and some sips of beer, the conversation becomes quite spiritual and changes topics in an irrepressible way, our united search leading it to many unknown directions. It´s a whirlwind of thoughts:
- doubting equals searching
- we are all confused
- love, what we have here is pure love
- this moment
- enlightenment (?)
- killing time
- dharma (Ben: “In India there is an understanding of the sexes and their rolls.
- media in America
- Nietzsche and Radiohead
- asshole syndrome (Ben: “This is where women, dissatisfied with what they are/have/etc go looking. And what do they find? What do they really want in a most primal and even animal way... a brute! And this is easy to come by, or relatively.
- money is the killer of society
- the way to a higher caste is the search for a life without money
- marijuana destroys you but helps for spiritual reasons
- head wiggling
- regret is only an illusion
- feeling is the point; not god, grace, or a belief of any kind
- Rajeev like a mighty buddha with a soft soul
- connected with everything
- the golden cup
- Life "Life is experience, experience in relationship.
At midnight Rajeev takes us drink-driving to our respective places in Jaipur.
“Within this space of alertness and non-western intelligence, there is the profound feeling of being blessed. Always remember: YOU ARE ALIVE!”
To be continued...