I am able to get a little blogging time now. We are in Dharmasalam and Emily is getting a massage – for 1000 rupees or $20 you can have someone come to your room. I had to laugh because the girl who is giving the massage has an Angry Birds t-shirt on! Anyway, I am on the hotel patio outdoors but indoors in this lovely Tibetan style dining room sitting here blogging with a skinny gray cat beside me. The chairs are red and very low to the ground…quite comfortable.
But I need to return in memory to Jaipur. Emily had to work a bit that morning, so I decided to take a quick trip to the City Palace. Once again, Abdul was waiting outside, and he took me where I wanted to go. He dropped me off at “stall 82,” which was the address of a street vendor near the palace, and said I just needed 20 minutes or so to see the palace. He said he would pick me up afterwards. I walked a short ways and paid the foreign tourist fee (not too much – maybe $2.00 or so). Indians pay much less to visit what is called heritage site, usually 50 cents or less. Every time we visited a heritage site, Emily pulled put her passport and business card. Since she lives and works in India, she pays taxes now to India. She is supposed to get some sort of special card allowing her the discount, but it has not been issued to her yet. But she has managed to talk the ticket sellers each time into giving her the Indian rate. It is funny, because when we then give our tickets to the ticket taker, they always raise their eyebrows and say something like, “You Indian?” She explains she lives in Mumbai.
The City Palace was interesting, but even though the compounds are usually very large, most of the areas look similar. so Abdul was right – 20 minutes was plenty of time. I returned to stall 82 and there was no sight of Abdul. I knew parking was a problem, and he had proven to be very reliable, so I wasn’t worried. People watching is quite fascinating in India. You see almost everything imaginable. I discreetly snapped a picture of a group of older men in traditional white Indian garments sitting around talking. Of course, there were many women in the colorful saris. I was surprised to see so few Indian women in western dress, although I understand why almost all of them do wear saris. They are so beautiful and look very comfortable, although I hear they are difficult to tie. Also popular are the long blouses and matching pants, with a scarf. I am quite plain in my jeans and t-shirt in comparison!
Finally Abdul arrived, and took me back to the hotel. I thanked him for all of his excellent driver service. He motioned for me to step out, and then he pulled a notebook out from under the seat in the back of his rickshaw. I looked throu the note ok and it was filled with comments from satisfied customers, praising Abdul for his driving prowess (no easy thing in India) and excellent service. I wrote a similar comment, and signed it. Then Abdul asked me to “speak out loud.” I read Abdul what I had written, and he seemed to beam with pleasure. He gave me his business card – like any other 21st century businessman, it included his email address.
Emily and I had arranged for a car to take us to Delhi, and it was to leave at 3. So I went up to the room, a bit sad at having to leave such a lovely accommodation, and packed up. When the driver arrived, he loaded up our suitcases, and we took off, Abdul waving goodbye as he left.ossibly, he was a bit jealous at having to turn us over to another driver!
The drive from Jaipur to Delhi generally takes about 5 hours. I wasn’t sure what to expect and hoped that it would be a pleasant and interesting drive. I wasn’t to be disappointed in this, but There were a few nerve wracking incidents. I will save that story for my next entry!