India 2.0-Jaipur

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Last stop: Jaipur. It was strange to arrive in this city, our last stop before flying home. The two weeks absolutely flew by, and miraculously, we didn’t have any travel mishaps, which felt like we had cheated somehow, this is India, after all. Something is going to go wrong. I contemplated this on our 5 hour train ride from Jodhpur-because you can’t come to India and not ride a train, which arrived 20 minutes late (so, on time) and mostly involved drinking a lot of chai and watching somewhat uninteresting landscape through the window. 

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Once in Jaipur we transferred to our hotel, outside of the city. Savista Retreat is an interesting concept in India, its somewhat like a homestay, but on the luxury end. As the complex where you stay is indeed the owner’s home-though an opulent one. We thought that perhaps by staying outside Jaipur, a large city, we might avoid some of the noise pollution/chaos. this of course, was  wishful thinking, especially around New Years. At this point I wasn’t necessarily ready to leave India, but the relative quite of New York City was appealing. Other than music blasting at odd hours of the night from some unknown location, our time at Savista was very pleasant. For Chris’ birthday we took a camel cart ride around the surrounding area. Well, we would have probably done so regardless, but it’s a lot more fun to say it’s a “birthday camel cart ride.” As opposed to those regular camel carts one takes. 

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Everyone knows I am not a fan of camels. But as long as I’m not riding on one, I tolerate them. This one was friendly enough, minus some intermittent flatulence and insistence on eating absolutely everything green that passed his face. Overall, it was a pleasant jaunt around the local village, we stopped at a house for chai and horse ride and got lots of confused looks from locals.

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Last time I was in Jaipur I didn’t do any of the optional activities, for whatever reason. So much of the city was still new to me. I remember our leader telling us about seeing the largest sundial in the world, I thought, “meh.” In fact, my post about the city was pretty lackluster too (I just put some pictures up). Clearly I wasn’t super into the city. This time, however we went to see the sundial (and Jantar Mantar in general) and it is worthwhile. We also roamed the City Palace, which while interesting is a long venture. 

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We also, of course, ate. Jaipur has a famous Lasiwalla, which is what I remember most fondly about the city. It’s still there, and delicious as ever. For 25 rupees you get a disposable terra-cotta cup with the best lasi ever. Or at least, that I’ve ever had. It’s also surprisingly light, unlike a lot of sugar-loaded American versions (which is more of a high calorie dessert than yogurt drink). We also ate kachoris (spicy filled street snack), which is one of my favorite street foods and could easily consume far too many. Our guide also got us local ice cream (on a stick), which was a sweet masala blend including pistachios and cardamon. 

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For New Years Eve (and Chris’ birthday) we ate at the hotel where they hosted a dinner, much more low-key than our Christmas Eve adventure in Narlai. They even brought out a candle in her dessert (which was a sweet carrot mash thing)-which was thoughtful, and hilarious as carrot mash does not do an excellent job of holding anything upright. It was an excellent last night in India. After dinner, we got a bit of sleep before being jolted awake by fireworks ringing in the new year. 

And just like that, our trip was over. The next day we headed to Delhi to await our stupid-early 3am flight to New York, via Dublin. Going into the trip I didn’t really know what to expect, I had some trepidation taking family there (especially when it was the first developing world trip for half our group!). But with a bit of planning and likely, a fair amount of luck everything went smoothly. And we all had a great time. Plus no one got sick from food or each other. Which, double win. 

I don’t know when I’ll be back to India, so I’m very thankful I got to experience it again with my family. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better experience. And with that, I leave you with this picture of a goat in a sweater, as seen on the streets of Jaipur. Because, India. 

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