|Our Really Big Adventure|
| We just didnt
have the enthusiasm to leave the air-conditioned cool of our room. The combination
of the unbearable midday heat and an increasingly jaded outlook on India
had made the refuge of our room our cell. We knew things were getting bad
when we had memorised all of the television advertisements jingles.
We could do this in Ireland, on the dole; there was no need to travel half
way across the world to watch tacky daytime television. Logically we knew
we should get out and see Jaipurs world famous palaces and forts,
however nothing could raise us out of our stupor.
Jaipur is meant to be one of the most atmospheric cities in the hugely colourful state of Rajasthan. It falls on the popular one-week tourists Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur encompassing Indias must see sites. The old city is a maze of narrow streets that screams and shouts life like only Indian cities can. The entire centre was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876 and even today it retains this bright colouration. Jaipur is instilled with it cultural, political and scientific history and with the right mindset could have been one of our highlights however, it wasnt to be.
I suppose Jaipur had been a shock to us after the cool of Ladakh and the unobtrusive opulence of Udaipur. When we arrived at six in the morning the rickshaw touts were already out in force. From the moment we disembarked from the train we spotted the first of them targeting us, making a beeline for us. From that instant we seemed to be unable to ignore everything that irritates travellers about India: rude and unhelpful people, touts following like plagues of locusts, all the new best friends that only want to practice their English and the suffocating heat.
Heat was the primary problem with temperatures exceeding 45 C keeping us locked away between eleven in the morning and three in the afternoon. Even outside these hours it was still hot enough to infect us with lassitude and irritability. We didnt know how we were going to deal with rock climbing in Badami and Hampi, where the heat would be accompanied by humidity. We had previously reckoned on rising at 6 and climbing till 11, however now even that seemed infeasible. Besides we were one short of the three people needed for one to climb, one to belay and one to be drinking water at any given moment.
Then it dawned on me we didnt have to go. It was not as if we were working or anything, we had flexible tickets and right now the sandy beaches of Thailand were calling me. Gently and reluctantly I brought the subject up with Barbara, so sure was I that she would chide me for my lack of staying power. I shouldnt have worried and it wasnt long before I could see her eyes glaze over with thoughts of chilled coconut shakes and cool beer in a bar where she wasnt the only woman.
Now buzzing with excitement and anticipation, we plotted
our escape. Gone were thoughts of sightseeing and cultural betterment,
our remaining days in Jaipur were occupied with rescheduling flights and
getting train tickets refunded. Friday afternoon we boarded a train to
Mumbai (Bombay) eager for the pleasures
the big city had to offer before waving goodbye to a country that is paradoxically
easy to love and easy to hate at the same time.