Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur » Gundoj » Ranakpur 2 January 2006
02.01.2006 - 02.01.2006 25 °C
It's been a very full week. Apologies for the lack of communication - which is due to a combination of a packed schedule, cyber cafés in the wrong place or at the wrong time, and power cuts resulting in them being there but not in operation. I’m writing this from the office of the manager at our hotel in Goa on Monday 9 January. What follows is therefore an update on what we’ve been doing during the past week (or at least as far as I can get by the time he goes home in an hour or so)
So where do I start? How about here?
Where else would you find a roundabout in the centre of a city of over six million people at the intersection of four major highways with no traffic control or right of way? Where else, indeed, would you find converging on that roundabout: dozens - nay hundreds - of cars, cycle rickshaws, taxis, buses, motorbikes, scooters, auto rickshaws, bicycles, bullock carts and pedestrians - some of these latter stopping for a chat while crossing from one side to the centre of the circus? Where else would you hear constant sounding of horns and see waving of arms out of vehicle windows. Answer: Jaipur!
Light traffic in Jaipur. Close your eyes or laugh hysterically when travelling by road!
This merely serves to explain why you need an experienced and knowledgeable driver with four pairs of eyes - one pair in the usual place, plus a pair at the back and another pair on each side. Our driver, Jai Singh, was all of this and more. He met me on arrival at Delhi Airport this morning, steering us first through that city’s similarly overstretched roads onto the dual carriage south towards Jaipur. It was a good road by Indian standards, although it was always a bit disconcerting to find other vehicles motoring towards you in the outside lane from time to time!
The two hundred or so kilometers from the outskirts of Delhi took us around five hours, including an unwanted lunch stop. I had already had a weird breakfast on Virgin Atlantic (a mandarin and dragon fruit smoothie, a soft strawberry bun, a Rumblers Bio yoghurt with cereal, and a Cajun panini melt - don’t ask!).
We reached the Hotel Umaid Bhawan in the Bani Park area of Jaipur in the early evening. Lajpal arrived shortly after on the back of his cousin Ravindra’s motorbike. It was an emotional moment for us both. Of course, we recognized each other immediately. It was a joy to see Lajpal’s gleaming white smile and bright brown eyes once again after nine years (not eight years as I had previously calculated).
After checking-in, we all went to the local Pizza Hut for a beer - it was clean, modern and smokefree, which is why they took me there.
I was shattered after my journey so, when Ravindra went off to meet his cousin Bhupendra who was just arriving from Udaipur, I went to bed, leaving Lajpal to enjoy the novelty of a television until the small hours of the morning.