It turns out that catching a local bus in India is an adventure in its own right. We left the hotel at 7am to catch a tuk-tuk to the bus station, and then piled onto the bus – desperately hoping for a seat, for at least part of the seven hour journey ahead. By the time my gorgeous roomie and I had made it onto the bus, they’d run out of standard seats… so Jess and I were allocated a cage. Yup, a cage. Well, of sorts.
‘Is everyone sitting comfortably?!’
‘Great – then the journey can begin!’
But it didn’t. Begin, that is. Moments after we had apparently set off, we sat stationary for the best part of half an hour, on a dusty patch of road, somewhere between Agra and Jaipur. We watched the locals go about their daily business as we waited for – well, whatever it was we were waiting for.
The funniest thing about the journey was all the feet. Bare feet everywhere, sticking out of every part of the vehicle; feet stomping on heads and upper arms in a bid to frantically scramble up to the cages at the top of the bus; feet poking out of hidey-holes; feet touching other feet… a frantic footsie fest! Not in the sexy way.
Jess and I spent most of the seven hours hiding away from Starey McStarers, but we only had a scrap of curtain and it didn’t entirely close so I just glared at them, hoping they’d get the hint. They didn’t.
Anyway, we eventually made it to Jaipur. In order to recover from the 148 mile journey, we chilled out in the glorious sunshine for a while; and I tried to repress the memories of all the feet by doing a spot of meditation.
Once we’d regained feeling in our bottoms, we went for an orientation walk around Jaipur; which was very disorientating. Utter madness, in fact.
After being treated to a lassi, we went to India’s largest movie theatre with the intention of being entertained by a good ole song-and-dance; a Bollywood style knees up, if you will! Instead, we watched a really depressing film and left the Raj Mandir Cinema feeling semi-suicidal and a little confused (it was all in Hindi). Thanks, Sid.
Jaipur, known as the “Pink City”, is clothed in pink stucco. The capital of Rajasthan is one of the most important heritage cities in India and home to India’s second most visited site, the Hawa Mahal, or “Palace of the Winds”. Located in the heart of the Old City, the City Palace offers a striking blend of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. A couple of quid will allow you to explore the courtyards, gardens, and beautiful buildings.
For another insight into Hindi and Mughal architecture, we headed to the magnificent Amber Fort and took in the sights as we tried to ignore the sad faces of the elephants who were forced to give fat tourists rides in the heat of the day.
Before having lunch at Hotel Glitz (classy), we had a photo op stop near the floating palace. Here I bought myself some Ray Bans. For £2. Roy Bans.
Then we did a spot of [enforced] textile shopping. Jess bought everything in sight, while the rest of us tried to escape. In order to prepare for the pending paint fest, a few of us branched off and had a stroll around the markets, trying to find Holi outfits. A round of banter followed a round of successful haggling. Matt and I decided to split a sari. Literally. Nothing like a makeshift Holi outfit to make things interesting. I rocked it pretty well during the Bollywood dancing class (if I do say so myself). Catherine and I had a lot of fun performing to the masses, all of whom were armed with bright, colourful powder (most of which found its way inside my mouth).
Here’s an overview of the dance moves:
Hip thrusts – snake – clicky clicky – looky looky – spear it – swoopy swoopy – pull Catherine up and twist – shimmy shimmy – I go down, she goes up – clap and shimmy – walk around – Indian DJ – hippy elbow shake – stir the curry – backwards swimming – foot stomps – Indian arms – crack your knuckles – windscreen wipers –
This made perfect sense at the time.