Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jaipur (India continued)

2012-07-27 India 57716Summer is drifting gradually into the distance behind this fast-moving train I seem to be stuck on, but I still have so much to write about those two very short-lived months of freedom that we loved so much.

First, I need to finish telling the story of our India trip because oh, how desperately I do not want that trip to fade into the recesses of my memory.2012-07-27 India 57545We drove away from Rising Star with heavy hearts (the Rising Star posts are back here with the last one showing first) but luckily we had more adventures awaiting.

When Dave and I planned this trip, we planned it around Rising Star.  We wanted to get our kids out of our little bubble here in the desert and have them reach outside of themselves and serve others.

But we also wanted to expose them to other parts of the world.  And as long as we were on the other side of the world, we wanted them to see a good portion of it.

So we hooked up with an Indian Hindu tour guide who took us on a wild ride through three prominent Indian cities: Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.

We sure saw and experienced so more than we bargained for in this van of ours:2012-07-30 Delhi 58537…and had more fun than we bargained for with our new neighbors.

I must say that it was kind of an interesting way to “meet” your new neighbors. 

I don’t know that most people get to go on a sweaty trip to India as a way to “break the ice” with people they are going to be moving right next to in a cul-de-sac with only two houses on it. It’s kind of risky business if you ask me, but boy howdy did we luck out with these guys.  They were the best travel partners ever which has us convinced they’re going to be even better neighbors.  So far they claim to still want us to move in, so that’s good news :)2012-07-30 Delhi 58536

Also in our van was our awesome tour guide named “Nitten” (but I have no idea if that’s how you spell it)  He’s in the middle below:2012-07-30 Delhi 58758

And this driver (on the left) and his helper. 2012-07-30 Delhi 58759Let’s just go ahead and say that with the no-rules-traffic in India, that sweet driver of ours had our lives in his hands on a continual basis.  And he did a phenomenal job dodging pigs and cows and people in the middle of the road everywhere we went.

We flew from Southern India (where Rising Star is located) up North on Spice Jet.    2012-07-26 India 57441Love that name for an airline, don’t you?

We felt surprisingly safe considering that this is how the airport looked:2012-07-26 India 574422012-07-26 India 57443

We got to read a little of the newspaper en route…2012-07-26 India 574462012-07-26 India 574502012-07-26 India 574552012-07-26 India 57459

This was the guy who greeted us at our hotel in Jaipur.  2012-07-26 India 57463I think he inspired Max to grow a mustache just like that one day.

We kind of got settled and then headed out to the city.2012-07-26 India 57469

These pictures will give you a little flavor of what we saw as we drove:2012-07-27 India 57483

Loved these cute girls getting a ride to school:2012-07-27 India 574852012-07-27 India 57491

Cows are sacred in India and no one “owns” them.  They just get to roam around and go hog-wild doing whatever they please.  2012-07-27 India 57499

…even if it includes standing in the middle of a median on a freeway…or eating the exorbitant amounts of garbage dumped everywhere.2012-07-27 India 575022012-07-27 India 57504

There are pigs all over the place too:2012-07-27 India 57588

…and goats and chickens and dogs and peacocks and even monkeys.

…and camels.2012-07-27 India 57613You get the idea.

Some parts were hard to see.2012-07-27 India 576372012-07-27 India 57495

Others were really interesting.  This car below is made from completely recycled parts of other cars:2012-07-29 India 58468

Jaipur is nicknamed “The Pink City” because they painted most of it pink (actually an orange-ish color…see below) to welcome Prince Albert when he came to visit in 1863.2012-07-27 India 57487Man, I hope Prince Albert felt great about that…that’s quite a welcome if you ask me.

We got out and walked for a while to get lunch. 

That walk was an eye-opener with the people begging on the streets.  That part was really, really hard.  It’s rough to even put it into words.  They will follow you forever even after you slip them some cash, and more and more will join in.  I loved the people like this cute lady who were trying to sell things to earn money.  2012-07-27 India 575192012-07-27 India 574802012-07-27 India 575892012-07-27 India 57507

Anyone need a random key?2012-07-27 India 57509

I was fascinated by the wires in India.  They don’t get built into things there, they’re just “stapled” haphazardly in huge quantities to the outside of buildings.  2012-07-27 India 57474(WAY more of that phenomenon when we get to Delhi.)

The scaffolding was kinda cool too:2012-07-27 India 57715

I don’t think two children have ever been quite so excited about American food: 2012-07-27 India 57478The continual curry and red rice for every meal at Rising Star just wasn’t cutting it for them.

(We still ate curry for all but one of our other meals in India…I mean, seriously, when you’re in India you better live on their food, which was really good in my opinion.)

Below is Hawa Mahal or “Palace of Winds” that is kind of famous in Jaipur.  It was built in 1799 for the royal ladies to stand behind to watch the day to day activities since it wasn’t proper for them to be seen.2012-07-27 India 577112012-07-27 India 57713

I love Indian architecture.2012-07-27 India 575212012-07-27 India 57524

We had a chance to visit the “City Palace” that was built in 1729 and parts of it have been converted into a museum.2012-07-27 India 57528

We were greeted by this snake charmer on our way in.2012-07-27 India 57533He’s looking kind of bugged/nervous because he was worried about the lady who went in before us who didn’t know she was supposed to give him a tip.2012-07-27 India 57538

I am in love with these scallops in the Indian architecture.2012-07-27 India 57540

Buckle your seatbelt because you are going to see a lot of them.

I think they look especially pretty with Indian women in front of them.  The women there are so beautiful with shrouded in their beautiful colorful saris.2012-07-27 India 57548

There were these four “gates” in there to symbolize the four different seasons.2012-07-27 India 575552012-07-27 India 575562012-07-27 India 57562

I loved the peacock one.2012-07-27 India 575652012-07-27 India 57566

Handsome broken-foot guy.2012-07-27 India 57569…who will be mad at me for posting that picture…2012-07-27 India 575712012-07-27 India 57577

Does this picture help it make more sense why those kids at Rising Star were so darn fascinated with Elle’s elastics?2012-07-27 India 57580

I loved watching these three together.  2012-07-27 India 57582

I wanted an Indian tablecloth we could use to help us remember India when we got home.  Our tour guide brought us to this place that had thousands of them.2012-07-27 India 57596

This guy showed us the process of the wood block dying system they do in India:2012-07-27 India 57594

…and he was willing to entertain my bargaining techniques.2012-07-27 India 576032012-07-27 India 57605

We visited the “water palace” the ancient royalty used for summer retreats.   2012-07-27 India 576072012-07-27 India 57610

One of the things I loved most about India was that we got to learn so much about other religions. 

That evening at sunset we got to go to a really cool prayer ceremony at this marble temple:2012-07-27 India 57661

In all the temples, mosques and sacred places in India you take off your shoes to enter the premises.  2012-07-27 India 57670Luckily they allowed walking boots:)

2012-07-27 India 57658

It was a gorgeous temple, but what I loved most about it was the prayer we got to be part of inside (no pictures).  At a precise time they pulled back the curtains to unveil the statues of Krishna (the 8th reincarnation of Vishnu) and his wife dressed in beautiful hot-pink saris surrounded in leis and gold.  Huge bells pealed out a melodic prayer and I loved being there with my family in the middle of it all with our tour guide belting out the prayer with the rest of the people crowded around.  It was kind of a surreal experience.2012-07-27 India 576802012-07-27 India 576842012-07-27 India 57685

Here’s Nitten explaining the intricacies of Hinduism to Dave:2012-07-27 India 57690

Such an eye-opening experience for these kids.2012-07-27 India 57694

The next morning we went to Amber Fort.2012-07-27 India 576242012-07-27 India 576262012-07-27 India 57629

We got to ride up to it on these guys:2012-07-27 India 577202012-07-27 India 577222012-07-27 India 577322012-07-27 India 577442012-07-27 India 577542012-07-27 India 577662012-07-27 India 57788
Brynne and Mike took forever to get up the hill on their poor elephant who I’m afraid was a little too old/sick for the task.2012-07-27 India 57800

I’ll let the pictures tell about this fort, but there’s much more info. here if you care to know more about the history.2012-07-27 India 578022012-07-27 India 578032012-07-27 India 578042012-07-27 India 578132012-07-27 India 578252012-07-27 India 578272012-07-27 India 578292012-07-27 India 578312012-07-27 India 578332012-07-27 India 578342012-07-27 India 578352012-07-27 India 578382012-07-27 India 57845

These trinket-sellers were the most persistent ones ever.2012-07-27 India 578492012-07-27 India 57852

With that, we headed off for our next stop: Agra and the Taj Mahal.

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