India’s Blue City – After a brief stop in Mt. Abu where we saw an amazing Jain temple, we spent two nights in Jodhpur. It was indeed India’s Blue City. As we stood on the rocky ridge of the Mehrangarh Fort, there was a breathtaking view of the Blue City spread out before us. Blue stucco walls and masses of indigo angles spread as far as the eye could see until they were swallowed by the desert landscape in the distance. The story claims that the city was whitewashed in blue to ward off the mosquitoes during the hot summer months. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin.
Story of the Spice Guy – After exploring the Mehrangarh Fort, we spent one afternoon in a local market, sampling 10 cent banana shakes and pineapple juices. As we approached the market stalls, we were immediately besieged by jewelry vendors and spice specialists, all claiming that they were the “honest” retailers and that we couldn’t find a better price within 100 km. After many, “no thank you’s” and “I already bought some, thanks,” we decided to give in to a sweet, squat man with kind eyes who wanted to show us his spice store. I have a soft heart for the “grandpa type.”
We were sat down for an intense course about saffron, ginger, and curry. The little man was so excited to have us in his store that he kept offering sample after sample…with no water! After several minutes, my nose and eyes were watering badly and my mouth was on fire, but it would have been rude to get up and leave. So Liz and I sat there and tried not to sneeze as he rambled on and on about the health benefits of various spices. We guzzled three bottles of water as soon as we left and I couldn’t quite taste my curry that evening.
Textile Negotiations – The next afternoon, we went textile shopping (again!) Funny observation though – – the price differed dramatically for the exact same scarf in two different stores. The only difference? In the first one, I was a college student from America. In the second, I told the man that I was a butter churner from South Africa and the price was considerably lower. I bought five items from him and assured him that I would say hello to his friend in Cape Town.
And I just have to add …..that sleeping in India is quite an experience. Aside from the rock hard mattresses and equally iron pillows, I sometimes feel that I am in the middle of a college dormitory again. We are woken on multiple occasions by dogs fighting in the city. Sometimes the noise rises to such an intense level that I want to jump out of bed and rush to rescue the poor assaulted creature. It is also not unusual to be jolted out of a sound slumber by blaring Hindi music, chanting, or bells clanging next door. Bring earplugs my fellow adventure lovers!