We left our hotel about 9. I was feeling better, but still not up to breakfast. Gastroenteritis is a handy way to save money.
On the way to Jaipur we stopped at a step well.
The unadorned columns are earlier Hindu architecture, and the decorated ones are later Persian-inspired Mughal work.
Although all the Gap tours stop here tourists are NOT common so we had a crowd draw up.
One local has started cashing in, and shows off his pottery for tips.
The wife is also in on it and showed the group her house
The girls dressed in one of her saris to pose for pictures. Meanwhile the neighbour watched all this through her screen window. All the tips amounted to several hundred rupees, so it is extremely profitable.
We drove on to Jaipur. On the way the guide told us about Indian feng shui, vasthu shastra. Have running water in the north east corner of your house, your kitchen on the east, bedroom in the south, and red curtains. Some principles were sensible, like not having a TV in the bedroom and opening your windows in the morning, and they also have a ‘no mirrors in the bedroom’ rule.
He also told us the thing everyone wants to know about India: why the women have dots on their forehead.
It was originally a mixture of lime and turmeric (vermillion), or sandalwood, to cool the chakra at that point. Now they have a stick-on bindi, for more decoration. There are also caste marks on the forehead.
We checked in to the Hotel Bissau Palace – one of the hotels run by a royal family that had to find some income when Indira Gandhi stopped their state funding in 1975. It was by far the most basic hotel we stayed in – quite damp until the air conditioning had been running for an hour, and very dark rooms. They had yellowed letters of thanks from Time Magazine and Sarah Ferguson. Her letter was on Buckingham Palace letterhead, which dates it.
After everyone had complained about the rooms, switched, found one with a television, and kicked the internet computer for its slowness, we headed in to the market.
The shops were in sections – sweets and spices, including an unexpected amount of pasta, bathroomware and electrical equipment, and mechanical goods. We stopped at an intersection and I saw a stairway to the roof. I thought a man sitting at the stairway would ask for baksheesh, but he didn’t. He asked the woman after me. You snooze, you lose!
After the market street we went past the palace, still used by the royal family.
We turned up another street on to the main tourist drag. The guide told us not to stop but did show us this 150 year old German camera, which ‘still clicks pictures!’ What could go wrong with a pinhole camera?
While walking back I saw something from the past:
We dined at a local restaurant. I didn’t feel like much so ordered a stuffed bread. The food came randomly – first a rush of bread, then one half of the table had mains 10min after the other. My bread was off so I was presented with a plain chappati. They’d made too much of the tandoori bread so I swagged one of those. One woman had her rice turn up after she’d finished her main.