After a few days in Mumbai, thinking I was totally immersed in the culture by that stage, I was kept on my toes and made to realise that the culture shock had only just begun. Jodhpur in Rajasthan was certainly no international city with almond milk flat whites like Mumbai.
We flew to Jodhpur, landing mid morning, and jumped on a tuk-tuk to our accommodation. Arriving at our haveli hotel, we realised our ‘let’s get things done quickly’ London mentality wasn’t going to fly, and I think check-in took ooh around 1.5 hours, with lots of stories told, info given, general chit-chat and us left wondering when we’d actually ever see the room.
When we eventually did get the keys to our room, I dropped my bags and made my way to the roof top, to soak up the afternoon sun and gaze at the views of Jodhpur that surrounded me. Known as the Blue City, I spent ages looking down over the blue buildings, watching sari-clad women hand washing in buckets, curious locals waving at me from another roof top nearby, and seeing eagles soar high above Mehrangarh Fort.
In the late afternoon, a worker from our haveli guided us to a perfect vantage point, to watch the sun set. We made our way through a tangle of tiny winding alleyways, ascending stairs, and becoming terrified as lots of over protective female dogs growled and barked at us, protecting their puppies. I am obsessed with dogs, and I’m that person that stops to pat as many as I can each and every day, but this was definitely not one of those days! Thankfully our guide acted as our dog protector and we made our way to the top.
We spent an hour or so watching the most beautiful sunset and taking
hundreds of pictures. AND I met more dogs at the sunset spot, the type that were feeling very unprotective and were happy to become my best friend immediately. If you’re a dog lover, your heart will melt a million times over in India.
Back at our haveli, the staff phoned one of their trusty tuk-tuk guys to take us to a factory selling everything from rugs to pashmina’s, and later to a restaurant. We sat in the back seat of the tuk-tuk, our driver started the engine, and within a few minutes, we were in the heart of the market area. It was full of colour and lights, people EVERYWHERE, and our driver thinking he was in a Formula One race. I think this moment was one of the highlights of my trip. ‘Moustache Man’, (it’s what we nicknamed our driver) was completely mad, and the more we laughed, the faster he drove, dodging oncoming traffic, cows and people, laughing his head off as we went. It felt like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
Arriving at the factory, we were ushered in and introduced to a man named Praveen. Praveen looked like he’d just been shopping in Selfridges here in London. Very well dressed, and very well spoken he began his two hour sales pitch. We fell hook, line and sinker, as he produced pashmina’s in various qualities, and therefore prices too, duvet covers, dresses, and jackets. You name it, we saw it. Praveen knew every name of every upmarket department store in London, and any name I threw at him he was familiar with too. So we put our trust in him, and walked away that evening with some goodies, vowing to return the following morning.
We then ate dinner at the most amazing rooftop restaurant, a fancy establishment with the staff dressed exquisitely, and the food tasting so, so good. The contrast of life out on the streets of Jodhpur, compared with this restaurant was quite mind blowing. The difference between rich and poor in India is an eye opener.
The following day started with the discovery of a cold shower, a situation that would become all too familiar during the trip. We liked to begin our days in India slowly with a cappuccino in a coffee shop. We Googled and found one that was recommended by other travellers, and made our way in that direction. Two cappuccino’s later, it was time to pay another visit to Praveen. This time we decided on purchasing sari’s. Fabric after fabric was laid out in front of us, sari’s were draped over us, and finally we both settled on one each, and handed over more money than I’d intended to spend.
After our sari purchase’s, we wandered through the markets, with the endless noise of shop sellers asking us to come into their store. This constant can get tiring pretty quickly when you just want to have a browse, but it’s impossible to do so without being asked if you’d like to buy whatever you’ve glanced at, and questioned when you say that you’re just looking. I totally get that tourists are likely their biggest buyers, but I’d like to start a customer service course in India to show the shop sellers they’re doing more harm than good by hounding their customers the way they do!
That afternoon we walked up to Mehrangarh Fort. Built around 1460, it’s one of the largest forts in India, reached by following a winding road up to the gates, 125 m above the city. We were blessed by a hindu priest who marked us with some red powder on our forehead, but what we mostly did, was take selfies with Indian tourists. I’m talking 20 or so photos with a school group, another dozen with some teenage boys, then a photoshoot with a family and their baby, and other families who all insisted on getting a photo on each one of their mobile phones, and when there’s half a dozen family members, this can take awhile! It was amusing and we obliged, because it was very sweet that they wanted to take photos with us. But believe me, further on in our trip, this novelty wore thin!
As the sun went down in Jodhpur, we bartered with a tuk-tuk driver for a fair price and drove through the bustling streets towards a restaurant for dinner, on our last evening there. We loved this city, and it was the perfect first stop for our adventure in Rajasthan. And wow were there adventures ahead of us! ….
Until my next post. x
Oh and P.S, the sari and pashmina’s we bought from Praveen, the ones we were told were top quality, were questionable according to many other locals along the way. It’s a long old story, but just a warning, keep your wit’s about you and don’t get caught up in the moment like we did!