I’m currently sitting on a bus for the five-hour ride we have to Dehli, so I have some time to give you all a little more in-depth recount of the last few days. On Wednesday we flew to Jaipur, which is much less hectic and alarming than Mumbai. There are more animals running around, but people are a little less stacked on top of each other. Literally.
The biggest surprise we have all had is how many Indians there are. Sounds dumb, right? There are almost no tourists this time of year and we get a little excited when we see a foreigner. Someone on the trip said they read somewhere “there are Indians in India” and it couldn’t be more of a simple but correct statement. The ‘hawkers’ are selling things for tourists everywhere but there aren’t any people to buy it right now. (Side note: I thought our guide was telling us to watch out for HOOKERS every time we got off the bus.)
Because there are very few blonde-haired, blue-eyed people, I am getting stopped all the time for selfies. The first girl that did it wanted to ask me all kinds of questions about America and I found it really sweet. They all say “it’s your eyes! Blue eyes!” I have a desire to give these young ladies a nice experience with an American who they are intrigued by, especially since I did it with the Miss Indiana appearances, but it has become excessive very quickly. We went to the beautiful City Palace in Jaipur and a young girl with her mother followed me around the museum until I agreed to take a picture. But good for me, these people also enjoy it when I take their picture whether they want a tip or they think they will be in National Geographic. I rarely take pictures of monuments or buildings because anyone can google that. There are some things that I avoid capturing on my camera of the culture, though. I love the people until I see them squatting in the street. For instance, I’ll be filming a man riding an elephant by our bus and then WHOOPS there is a little boy, butt naked, squatting like a cat in a litter pan. I wish I was so bold.
Our bus has a big TOURIST decal across it and the men LOVE to stare, totally deadpan, through the windows. I can’t read most of their expressions on what kind of people they are seeing in the bus, but after about 10 seconds they usually start waving, still deadpan but kind of curious, like they have never seen a white person. We are gawking at the cows and goats running around them in the tight traffic while they are hypnotized by our bus.
The animals really are incredible here. Even the cows cause quite the excitement among us. After my rocky encounters with monkeys peeing from the trees in Costa Rica and riding camels in Morocco, I’ve learned to be very cautious of animals in the wild, but our encounters have been nothing shy of hilarious. We rode elephants up a hill to Amer Fort for a mere 1,100 rupees for two people. We got a little sneezed on by the elephants and almost slid out of the saddle, but it was very fascinating to see the bond between the elephant and his owner. The elephants only give three rides a day and then they are walked back to the villages they live in, so it sounds like they aren’t overworked. I’m conflicted about riding animals for a tourist attraction but I’m more conflicted about how badly people in India, like their owners, are struggling to make money.
The monkeys, AKA flying Devils, are a different story. At the Monkey Temple we saw the wild red butts of little babies running around EVERYWHERE. Have you ever seen a monkey swim? As we were standing by the bath on the top of the temple, a monkey sprinted over our heads and dove a good 12 feet into the pool. I lost my mind. It was the single funniest thing I have seen all week. To make matters more gross, many Indian men were bathing in the pool below where the monkey filled water drained.
I think the cutest thing I have seen is the devout friendship that some men have for each other. It’s common for Indian men to hold hands as a sign of friendship. I have seen the men sitting close with an arm around each other or sharing a scarf.. Etc. It doesn’t come off as gay or even that strange in a society where being gay isn’t a common thing to spot. It’s just pure love and respect for a quality friendship. Don’t be alarmed if I come home and start holding all of your hands! (Just kidding- you people are GROSS.)
As I said in my last post, Mumbai was quite dirty. Jaipur is much better but still pretty trashed. The funny thing is that people are always sweeping the streets of dirt with these small brooms but nothing is ever collected. It’s like they need to employ their mass amounts of people so they have to come up with many tasks that are sometimes meaningless. Oddly enough, this funny little sweeper they use is what I want to take home as a souvenir. Many of the girls on the trip bought cheap harem pants as souvenirs to wear while we are here and nearly all of them busted out in the butt. As for other things I want to take home for my family, Bob May told me before I left that I am absolutely “not allowed to bring home a carpet.” On our first day in Jaipur we watched how carpets were made and I was so tempted to get one for my dad out of spite.
Life is an adventure and deodorant is a gift from God.
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