I took this shot in the old city of Jaipur. Yes, they have public urinals up there that are open for the world to see. No, they do not lead to the sewer system. (they just seem to be aimed that proventing men from peeing just anywhere) No, they don’t seem to actually prevent men from peeing just anywhere. I saw a man urinating ten meters from one of these rows of public urinals.
And yes, it appears that monkeys are more common on the streets of Jaipur than Bangalore
One of the interesting things on the Rajasthan trip was seeing India from the tourists’ perspective. Up until now, my perspective has strictly been that of the expat; which is neither a tourist, nor Indian perspective.
Most of the visitors (and they are not few) are here on business travel. We live in a city with very little to offer the tourist. The landmarks, while typically Indian and very interesting to an outsider, are not famous draws for foreign tourists. When we go out on trips, we tend to choose to go places where very few – if any – people go (Krishnagiri, Skandagiri, Ranganatha Swamy Hill) or to places where mass Indian tourism is the rule of the day (Hogenakal and Athirapilly Falls). We did of course see a lot of foreigners in Kochi; but as we stayed in a hotel on the other side of town than was frequented by Indian business travelers instead of a foreigner oriented guesthouse in Fort Cochin, we mostly missed the “foreign tourist” circuit.
Rajasthan was an eye opener. The hotels that we stayed in at Jaipur and Jodhpur had mostly foreigners as guests. It was like stepping into a theme park. A posh and cozy theme park, but a theme park nevertheless. I’ve noticed a correlation between how much Lonely Planet dwells on something and how many foreigners are there. Krishnagiri does not exist and there are exactly zero tourists there. Tiruvannamalai is a “hidden gem” that is easily overlooked in the guidebook’s Tamil Nadu coverage and we saw one westerner while there. It has a busy temple and several of Daniela’s colleagues like going there on pilgrimage or to visit their favorite ashram. Mehrangharh Fort in Jodhpur – one of Lonely Planet’s must see sights – is overrun with foreigners and the busy café in the fort had only one table with Indians at it.
I can only imagine what the Taj Mahal is like.
We are back from Rajasthan. We flew to Jaipur, did the usual tourist thing of walking around in the old city and visiting Fort Amber. Then we set off westwards by car to Ajmer and Pushkar, on to Jodhpur and finally to Jaiselmer, a lonely outpost of civilization waaaaaaaay out in the Thar Desert; before venturing even further into the desert to a little place called Khuri. The kids loved the trip. It is an official mantra in our house that “Rajasthan is cooler than Bangalore”.
I don’t even know where to begin. To add to it, Daniela and I read The White Tiger during downtime during the trip. I think it will take a few days – or more – to discharge my impressions.
I am leaving for the airport with my mother. Her two weeks here are over and she is catching a plane back to New Jersey, via an overnight layover in London. I think she enjoyed herself and strangely she loved Bangalore traffic.
Our driver will return to the house and pick up the family to bring them to the airport. Two hours after my mom’s plane leaves for the UK, we are catching a flight to Jaipur. We’ll be there for a week, visiting Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. We plan to do an overnight camel safari in the Thar Desert while we are in Jaisalmer.
I scheduled a post about a Christmas Eve experience for tomorrow. Otherwise, We’ll be off playing tourist in the desert. See you in a week.