Back up north (part two)
In Jaipur, our accommodations were stunning. A heritage house that Vidya had found online but Sunil also knew the owner so he got us an upgrade and our room was overlooking the fountain, center area where we would sit in the sun, and the pool that we never used. Sunil brought us scarfs as a welcome gift (it was our first time meeting him even though we had been in contact for months). He is super handsome and both me and Vidya make eyes at him and later commented on the wave and shine of his hair.
We kept trying to insist that we wanted to do our own thing but the aggressive nicety that the Indian people bear down on you is almost as impossible as saying no to as the never ending servings of food: very difficult. So we went along for three rides. One, the Hanuman temple which we never actually saw because upon arrival, we walked into a ceremony, a sermon, a gathering of people. We sat. The chanting and the feeling of reverence brought tears to my eyes and energy up my spine. We sat for over an hour. At one point a woman asked me if I needed her shawl because I was shaking with kundalini rising; she thought I was cold. Mind you, we do not speak the same language...All forms of communication is a combination of eyes, head bobbles and gestures. I am floored by the generosity and awareness of the stranger behind me.
I wanted to wander back towards what I felt was the way to the temple but Tasha and Vidya hesitated and instead we started to head back to the car. Luckily this gentle, older man pointed up to what presented as a building under construction and an unlikely place of interes
t. But we followed his direction and up we went to the top floor... Warranting the ascent with "maybe there's a good view." There was in fact, an old, make shift temple right in the midst of rubble. And a young holy man reading the scriptures. We sat; we prayed; we were blessed; we payed homage and we smiled our way down the stairs marveling at how the universe takes care of us. Manu must have thought we were insane because we were gone so long. But off we went to our second stop: the monkey temple.
The long, winding road that lead to the monkey temple went through the rubble and remains of the first city center of Jaipur... It was like a set for a movie. No one seemed to live in the beautiful buildings and the roads were empty and without a lot of communication of where we were going, we arrived at the gates of the "monkey temple". We paid an entrance fee. We were invited by a young man "this way" to a temple. Half way, we decided to reverse our steps. We really had noida where we were...but that can't be it. Then another offer: this way. No. We kept moving towards the mountain ahead. Marveling at the spookiness yet serenity of this desolate town. We arrived at a pool sized reservoir of Ganges water. Disgusting to the eye and nose. And then saw three young women bathing in it. We kept making our way and there were monkeys everywhere! Little ones, big ones, mamas, papas, quiet ones, aggressive one. Monkeys in the 50-75 numbers is absolutely intimidating.
Along the road, we came to what we deemed as the temple. We sat. We prayed. We got blessed. We paid homage. (Vidya stealthily avoided eating the sugar that I took into my mouth and regretted). We started to go back when Tasha said, no there's more. Up the mountain. We climbed. To the top. To the view, the expansive Jaipur below us. It was awesome. More prayers. More blessings. More homepage, and then we watched all the kites. The boys on the roofs, in the fields, across the way flying these little pieces of paper kites. Love this.
The last stop was a marble temple. We went in for 2 minutes and returned to the car, exhausted...ready to go back to hotel and the dinner. Except we ended up at a shop... I can't even go into the scale of this place. Lets just say, I spent a grip of money on scarfs, pashmina, silk, and a bed spread for myself. (I will ultimately return on my last day again)... Don't shop hungry and tired... Especially when you're surrounded by charming and convincing Indian salesmen)
Our last day together, we have a guide. He takes us to the observatory....and is amazing in terms astronomy and astrology and we are in awe of the instruments that were produced hundreds of years ago to measure the stars, time,the planets, etc. Museums are not my thing. We went to one... fine. Then another fort and then a stop...and we are beat. He wanted to take us to the Wood print shop. We say no. He wanted to take us to the gem cutting place. We say no. We just donot want to be sold anything else. We win. But then Sunil picks us up and we have one last shopping adventure... I manage not t purchase anything this time (much to his not-so-subtle sales pitch). Last meal together. All food is amazing. I love Rajasthan curry.
Vidya and Tasha leave. I shop some more...fleeing the scene, wondering who the hell do I think I am. And make my way to the first night train I have taken. The solo adventure begins.