Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NEVER GET OUT OF THE BOAT! India 2012 part 9

Strolling. Jaipur.
Woke up at 6:30 AM and went downstairs to have brunch. Potatoes, toast, hard-boiled eggs and yum, baked beans. Baked beans at breakfast? A group of Korean tourists came in and tore up the buffet. Glad I got here early. I wonder if anyone came down for the midnight buffet?  

Baked beans for breakfast? 
Our group leader took us to Jantar Mantar. This interesting park is a collection of fourteen astronomical observatories. All of these devices were built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaji Jai Singh. These instruments look more like sculptures. These angular buildings jutting out of the ground like stone needles. The structures vary in purpose. Some were designed to measure time, others to track the stars. The place would fit perfect in a science fiction movie. One of our group members got yelled at for climbing up the stairs to one of the structures. 

Stairway to heaven. Jantar Mantar. Jaipur.

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur.

We were not allowed down there! Jantar Mantar, Jaipur.

Like an M.C. Escher drawing! Jantar Mantar, Jaipur.

Sky bound. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur.

Great place to relax. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur. 
Took a picture with a real life snake charmer. I've always wanted to see a snake charmer. I taped some of his tunes. He put the snake around my neck. I didn't worry about it biting me, the fangs were removed. The snake charmer played some cool tunes on his flute. One side of the flute played a drone while the other side was for playing notes. I gave him some extra rupees and he said that I was a good man. 

Is this thing real? Outside the Jantar Mantar.
I had been looking for a 9 volt battery for days. A spied a guy selling batteries out of a cardboard box. He didn't have a 9 volt. He said that he could get me one though. I didn't think anything of it until I saw him as I was leaving the Jantar Mantar. He found a 9 volt battery and it was all mine for the 500 rupees. Yow! That was $10.00. I didn't want to pay that much, but he said that he walked a long way to get it, so I grudgingly paid for it. Glad I did. I really needed it for my Smokey Amp.  

We were then taken to a magnificent fabric store as part of an agreement with our tour guide company. They had some really nice things here. While the rest of the group were off buying clothes, the head salesperson told me to follow him into a side room. There were carpets everywhere. He tried to sell me one. He told me to take off my shoes and walk on one of the larger carpets. He rolled one out especially for me. I felt kind of bad. There was no way that I was going to buy a carpet. He told me he asked me because I looked like an artist. I told him that I appreciated the thought, but buying a carpet was out of the question. He seemed a little bummed.

Our group split up again. My mom and I went back to the hotel. I was craving pizza. Someone mentioned that there was a Domino's Pizza near our hotel that delivered. I asked my tour leader to phone in an order. As soon as we got to the hotel, my pizza was there. A boy on a motorcycle delivered it. Damn it was good.

Domino's Pizza, Jaipur style!
Everybody on this trip is slowly catching a cold. Two of the girls in our group brought it with them. They were coughing up a storm. It's been a game to see who gets sick next. My mom was feeling under the weather so I went out looking for some medicine for her. She's had the cold since Fort Madhogarh. 

Going out alone was a heavy experience. As I ventured down the streets of Jaipur, I was getting the stare down from practically everybody. As I said before, everyone thought that I was Indian. So it seemed strange that I was getting this kind of attention. I was a getting a little paranoid. It could have been my appearance. I was the only guy wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses. That made me stick out a bit. I bought some Hindu stickers and a poster of Kali. I took off the sunglasses and shoved my hat in my backpack. The stares went away and I felt like part of the population. For someone who hates getting stared at, this was a great sense of relief.

I took a rickshaw back to the hotel. My driver had black teeth. I bargained with him for a bit on the price back home. Right then, another guy in a tuk tuk came and said that I could ride with him. I had already made a deal with the rickshaw driver and politely declined the alternate offer. I told my guy the name of my hotel and we ventured down the road. The guy was a little spacey. He made a left down a dusty street and dropped me off at the wrong hotel. I told him that this was not my hotel and asked him if he was lost. I started to panic a bit as he kept riding down getting farther away from where he picked me up. Luckily I spotted a pet shop that was on the corner of where my hotel was. I poked him in the back and told him to head down that street. I was filled with relief when I saw my hotel. I paid him and went inside.

Went in search for a small screwdriver to open up my portable amplifier. I just purchased the most expensive battery of my life and I waned to put it to use. I sat at the bar and asked the bartender if he had one. I kid you not, the entire hotel staff got up to help me. I told them I needed a screwdriver to open up my tiny amp to replace the battery. They asked why I had an amplifier and I said that it was because I brought my electric ukulele  They asked if I had with me and I said yes, I went up to my room and grabbed it. When I got back, a skinny maintenance man found a screwdriver and was opening up the back of my amp. Once the new battery was in, I played the hotel staff a feedback rich medley. I think they liked it. The hotel manager who was present said that he liked Enrique Iglesias and the song, "Hotel California." Who doesn't like "Hotel California?" I arranged for my group to play a small concert in the bar. Our guide is going to bring his acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.

Later that night, we were to meet our tour leader in the hotel lobby. He was going to take us to a fancy dinner at one of the palaces. There weren't that many of us come dinner time. The family in our group decided to do their own thing. My mom was sick as was another member of the group. We hired two tuk tuk's to take us to this heritage home for dinner. We ventured our way through the eldritch streets, again risking life and limb. The heritage house was nice. It used to be the home of a king but they turned into a restaurant. There were musicians playing sitar and tablas as we entered. I talked to them briefly. Good guys! The place was like a museum. We ordered drinks and sat and waited in the lobby. Fireworks blasting in the background. 

Pretty sweet heritage hotel. Jaipur.

Like a museum! 

Beauty and the beasts. 

These guys kicked out the jams!
After dinner we got in our tuk tuks and headed back to our hotel. I saw some strange sights as we journeyed through this bizarre world. A guy on a motorcycle puked all over a friend. Something red and meaty was bubbling in a huge cauldron. Shadowy figures lunged from dark alleys. We raced down these hellish streets and made it safe and sound back to The Wall Street Hotel. 

Cool tree! Jantar Mantar, Jaipur. 

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