Saturday, January 14, 2012

Timing In India

We're finding out what people what people were advising us about before our trip. To put it in a nutshell, don't count on a task or activity taking the same amount of time as it does "back home."

Yesterday our flight was a half hour late. We wait at the baggage carousel for some length of time (half the flying time of our 45-minute flight) before our bags emerge, just like we usually do at home when we're stuck checking luggage. We go outside and find a driver holding up a sign with "Brian" on it. This very friendly fellow walks us toward his car, and stows our bags on top, since there's no room inside for anything but a tight squeeze for us. We shoehorn ourselves in and enjoy a pleasant 25-minute drive to the Pearl Palace Boutique Guest House. The traffic isn't as busy as we found it in Delhi and all our bags remain on top, to our pleasant surprise.

The driver solicits our business for touring the following day, and we can't elicit whether he's the guide Mr. Singh has selected for us. Mr. Singh specifically warns customers in writing to avoid touts so we won't make commitments until we've talked to him.

A young manager greets us warmly as we and our bags enter. Then, a couple of guests returning to the hotel ask him about the decorations on the wall and his attention is completely diverted by them for a couple of minutes before he returns to us. Checking in reminded more than one of us of the "signing" part of a wedding ceremony. Each one of the five of us takes our turn at the desk to fill out two forms: where are we from, how long are we staying in India, etc. Of course, we hand our passports over as well.

Finally we're taken upstairs to tour our rooms, which are actually small suites and lovely. Photos will follow at some point but the Internet connection here may not support uploads.

We then ask for water and beer, being very thirsty. It takes upwards of 30 minutes but eventually arrives. We're all hungry and tired so decide to to go to dinner at the well-recommended hotel restaurant, a free tuk-tuk ride of less than five minutes.

It's a rooftop restaurant with three or maybe even four - floors of dining. By the time we arrive at the very top, where one large table is available on this busy Saturday night, we've climbed six flights of stairs. We eventually manage to get our dinner ordered and wait and wait and wait...

An hour and a half later (more or less) it finally arrives. Actually, it's quite tasty although we're so hungry we're inhaling it rather than savoring it. The bill for the feast comes to about USD $40. We then descend the stairs, climb into tuk-tuks again, listen to the offers from these drivers to chauffeur us around Jaipur in their tuk-tuks tomorrow (yeah, right), and fall into bed.

We both sleep hard, the longest sleep since we've landed for Brian. He doesn't awaken until 5:00 a.m., despite the continual sound of train whistles coming from the nearby rail line. Other sounds intrude. Somebody is violently ill in another room. There's a Muslim call to prayer - there must be a mosque nearby. Dogs bark. Two bells ring slowly and rhythmically for several minutes in what must be another religious ceremony. Morning is breaking in Jaipur.

Brian wonders about getting some laundry done, since we're here three nights. Will a shirt be returned before we leave? We realize it's time to adjust our expectations and to enjoy the experience.

We already know it'll be an interesting day.

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