Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is known as the Pink City which I was later told is because when the Prince of Wales visited the city sometime in the 1800’s they painted the whole bastard place pink to welcome him which is a slightly grand and random gesture. He’d probably have been happy with a cheesecake. I’d have been happy with a cheesecake. But to be fair I’m not part of the reigning British monarchy and I really really like cheesecake. But since then they’ve just kept it pink and these days it’s compulsory to do so. I decided to have a wander through the old city on the Sunday morning which might not have been the best idea on account of a lot of shops being closed, or it could have been the best idea ever on account of a lot of the shops being closed. I guess it was a little less hectic than it could have been although I was still invited inside to peruse saris, lacs (which are resin bangles), silver jewellery, gemstones and all manner of pretty, feminine attire I couldn’t pull off even if I tried. I think that all Indian traders are part of a nationwide conspiracy to try and make me look like a drag queen. If anyone tries to coax me in with “quality fake eyelashes, madam. Very good price,” my theory will be proved.
But yeah, about this pink colour. For some reason I was expecting a pale pink, sort of the subtle colour of pink sandstone. Buuuut it’s not really pink is it. No. It’s more of a dirty salmon colour. But I don’t think “The Dirty Salmon City” would attract as many tourists and it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
I’d decided that Sunday would be my “wander aimlessly around the city” day whilst checking out shit included in my ₹400 composite ticket which wasn’t covered in the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) tour I was doing on the Monday. This meant a visit to Hawa Mahal. No, I haven’t got a clue what it is but dammit, I’d paid for it, I was going to put it in my eyeholes. If you’re ever worried about having too much time to do stuff in an Indian city, just head for the nearest tourist attraction and wander around. Guaranteed, you’ll eventually be accosted by a group of youths wanting “one photo” which will never be just one photo. It’ll be several group photos as people jump in and out and swap phones and cameras, then they all want a photo with you and just them. This should kill around five or six minutes at a time whilst you stand there with a fixed smile and it’ll probably happen three or four times per monument. So don’t worry, you’ll never find yourself scratching your arse and thinking, “I really haven’t spent enough time stood in this one spot.” Generally though, I don’t refuse photos because I ask enough people for photos and I would like for them to say yes. Karma init, bruv.
Other things I checked out today included a minaret that you can climb up for ₹20 and the Albert Hall Museum which is basically… well it’s a museum. The coolest thing though is the fact that out the front next to the main road there are a couple of women selling grain which people buy and feed to the pigeons. There were hundreds of the little feathered flying rats, gorging themselves on the offerings from humans. I don’t know why they do this. I mean, in the UK we feed birds for the joy of feeding birds, but people were pulling up on motorbikes, buying grain, throwing it then leaving right away. No one stopped to enjoy the spectacle. And now I couldn’t get that fucking Mary Poppins tune out of my head. Y’know the one. “Feeeed the biiirds, tuppence a bag. Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a baaaag…” Yeah, enjoy that earworm. You’re welcome.
Something else that’s well worth a visit if only for the views over the city is the Monkey Temple which I think is more properly called Galtaji. If you take a bag of nuts you can feed the macaques which seem to be less intent on stealing anything that isn’t secured to your person than the usual red faced variety of primate. Some of them will accept the nuts from your hand and show you some teeth anyway. Y’know, just to remind you who’s the fucking boss around here, regardless of how many gifts you bring, bitch.
The walk up to the temple is the usual gauntlet of people selling things, asking for money or chapati and trying to coax you into taking their photo for a fee. Then there are the cows. Not just your regular, common or garden, four legged cow though. Nope. These bad boys are mutants. There must have been about four of these cows, all decorated by their owners, waiting for a tourist to take their photo. I’ve never seen so many mutant cows in one place and they all have similar mutations; a leg, complete with hoof, growing out from between their shoulder blades. Either some bastard is going round grafting extra legs onto the back of the local bovines or there’s something seriously wrong with the gene pool here. That’s what happens when cousins shag, kids. Buuuut hey, they seem pretty well cared for. I mean, I guess if you’re holy, produce milk and generate extra income at ₹10 per photo then you’re not gonna have too much to worry about in life ay.
But this temple is more of a complex of temples and bathing pools that you can just wander through. It’ll cost you ₹50 if you want to take photos which is fair enough given that there’s no entry fee. It’s full of crap as usual but as someone pointed out once, I think a lot of what looks like shite is the remains of offerings. Food, flowers, trays that used to hold floating candles, rice. Whatever people think the deities will appreciate gets strewn around holy areas and ends up accumulating in the gutter and any body of water nearby. Who knew religion could be a tetanus risk?
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Stayed at: Zostel Jaipur