After a sleep blurry tuk tuk ride from the station to our hotel, we were due to visit Jaipur Fort that morning... we all met up again after a wash and brush up (we had found the 'small earthing problem' and resultant electric shocks from our shower taps a little worrying), but our guide advised that there was a nationwide political versus religious demonstration about the planned destruction of an underwater bridge between India and Sri Lanka. There's quite a lot to the story, but the end result was that all of the roads and many of the railway stations were blocked with people and (mainly peaceful) protests for the next few hours at least. The extra few hours of sleep were gratefully received!
As an alternative activity, we visited a carpet factory. There were hand looms in the front yard with men hard at work while their wives tended to the children... there were many tales of 'each carpet takes a man a year to make', and they really were beautiful... although our cynical sides were looking for the delivery van or the machines out the back.
The bridge situation had dissipated the following day, so our first stop was a Jewellery shop called Ladli. This may not sound like the most exciting thing but this was more of a local street kids home & support than a shop. It was run by a charity who help street kids by educating & training them. The teach them how to make jewellary & then sell it to raise funds. They even run a 'shower truck' and various other schemes all for the street kids.
It was amazing to see the kids chatting & smiling when not so long before their life held little or no prospects. I even tried my hand at doing a little jewellery manufacturing but i don't think that particular item would sell for much. (Maybe to a real Dave Elliott memorabilia collector?, I hear there's a few).
The afternoon was a trip to another fort. Again a wonderful looking place but I think we were all a bit forted out by then. After a short tour we were all ready to head back. A quick local 20 seater bus ride (incedentally with around 100 people on the bus), and we were back in Central Jaipur. The wind Palace was close by and we had a quick look at that. The place would have been stunning (it was in all the pictures we had seen of it previously) But, although very interesting and definately creative, the scaffolding in front of it pretty much ruined the view.
The evening was taken up by going to the cinema. The film was a Bollywood film with no subtitles and suprisingly no dancing. It was called "Chak De! India" (which is something like "Go do it India" very roughly translated)
The basic theory was:
- Disgraced captain of India mens hockey team takes on formation & management of, never before tried, India womens hockey team.
- Initial poor quality but after many motivational speaches rise to eventually winning the world cup.
- Previously disgraced captian now recieved back in India as a hero.
It was a bit cheesy and very pro India. Even to the extent of the government reducing tax on the tickets so that more people would go and see it. Something seemed to work though. There were lots of claps and cheering and shouts of "Chak De" around the place. (these were just about loud enough to drown out the mobile phone rings, babies crying and constant converations that seemed to go on throughout the film).
Either way it was definately nothing at all like any film or atmosphere in a british cenema i have been to.
The next day was at Bharaptur. The hotel was ok but not on the level of the one at Udaipur. Still nice though and another place with a pool. This time we had to share it with a tour of predominantely retired Greman Tourists. They talked a little to us but not a lot. Maybe the shock of getting out of the air-condintioned coach had got to them...
The only reason for going to Bharatpur was to visit the Keoladeo Bird Park. This was about 2 miles from the hotel. Very soon after getting onto cycle rickshaws we began to feel a bit sorry for our driver. Possibly because by this point (about a third of the way there) he appeared to be struggling to breath and had a pained expression on his face. He did eventually make it but needed a bit of a rest before we went round the park. We realised after waiting 20 minutes for the other rickshaws that our driver was possibly the equivelant of an olympic athelete. This conclusion coming from the look of near death on the other drivers faces.
Once in the bird park it was nice to get away from the general chaos that is everywhere in India. We saw:
- A Hornbill
- A Tiger Bird
- A Peacock (national Bird of India)
- A Jackall
- A Woodpecker
- Some Deer
- More Monkeys &
- Some starnge (Roti Eating) Turtles with clawes and soft shells.
The driver, who by this point had miraculasly turned into our guide, explained that the low monsoon that year had meant that there were less birds than normal. He did offer to take our mobile phone numbers and call us when there were more birds around but that would probably be next year...
We gave him a nice tip when we got back but we didn't really think the numbers would be a useful idea. I think as future career choices go, the cycle rickshaw driver is another one that will probably not be pursued further.