Jaipur, the Pink City, I first visited in 1992, I don’t remember too much other than spending a lot of time near or on the toilet after a dodgy masala dosa in Jodhpur. The unhappy stomach was a trend that reoccurred in 1997 too, where the world fell out of my arse after I was given well water to drink by well-meaning hosts. A hospital trip with suspected typhoid and then a night spent wrung out and ill at the family home, I was dispatched back to my hotel to the news that Princess Diana had died.TBH I was past caring, I just wanted to be reassured that I’d be returning to normal bowel movements, as opposed to ones that were like a tap exploding water everywhere when a hose pipe comes detached due to too much pressure.
2013 was the last visit, cold weather and a ‘guard’ (aka driver) we acquired at the station who seemed to want us not to wander off anywhere on our own, in case he dipped out of any potential commission. Also, me and my travelling companion nearly came to blows about my lack of negotiating powers when in the clutches of shop owners (it’s something I’m crap at, and hate with a passion).
We had shivered in our hotel room, I slept in my sleeping bag in bed, our shower head pointed straight into an unfinished electrical socket, which someone had stuffed with a bit of plastic in an attempt to waterproof it, and the hotel manager told us that, in time, they’d be able to install a lift where the big hole running through the center of the hotel was. A window in our room adjoined the kitchen, so we could hear them cooking. I’m still not sure why we stayed there, it was, with hindsight, very odd.
This time I stayed in Hathroi Fort area, at Kalpana’s Homestay & Yoga, a lovely home off the main road, beautifully looked after by the owners. It’s pretty quiet, if you discount the call to prayers, the revved up motorbikes, random screechings, late night wedding fire crackers -normal, you know? Yoga took place in the room next to mine, so I could fall out of bed and fall onto my rug (makes for some interesting moves as it’s on a marble floor…). The practice is Hatha, so lots of breath work (always fun with a cold, and a very blocked nose) which turns out to be hard going for the fatty foreigner, whilst the salwar kameez’d ladies next to me seem to just take it in their stride, only occasionally stopping for a lil’ rest if there’s something they can’t / don’t want to do. Afterwards is a hearty breakfast and amazing chai, sugarless, I’ve rediscovered a love for a cuppa.
I’d like to say there’s been a pattern to the days but there hasn’t really, except that each day has had something that’s really made it special, and Jaipur a pleasure to visit (and not just because I’ve avoided the screaming abdabs).
I’ve also now officially become ‘madam’, aka ‘old lady’, I can’t now say ‘I’m not a bloody madam, I’m a miss’, because I know anyone would just shake their heads sadly at my misapprehension. Plus, I have been known to have an afternoon nap, at least once so far, because it’s all been a bit tiring. It’s fun being back though.