November 19, 2010
“Do you mind if I ask you something?” This seems to be the approaching sentence of men in Jaipur. Yes, I do mind. Why? Because in 24 hours 10 people have already asked me the same question. “Why do Westerners come to India to get to know our culture and they don’t speak to locals?”. Maybe because locals are too annoying and people get tired?
Well, they don’t get it. And most times they are boring questions, where do you come from, what do you do, what did you like about India, and so on.

Tonight another guy approached me in this same way. At my reaction, the same as usual, rude, he said that this wasn’t what he wanted to ask me. It was “Can I offer you a chai so that we can chat a bit?”. Ok, not much difference, but because he had the guts to reply to me (usually after my rude reply they run away) I got curious. And I got this free chai (well, half to be honest, they brought us a glass of tea and one emply, where my half was poured.

Well, he wasn’t too bad. He told me some interesting stories. Like, why are Indians not good at playing football (soccer)? Because at every corner they would open a shop. And this is so true! All ground floors of the buildings are shops or restaurants, not one single flat or house. Flats are from the first floor up. No garage, there’s no need for them. 

He likes cricket, anyway. I don’t know anything about cricket, and he says that he’s not even trying to teach me something because it’s very complicated and after 2 minutes I’d be tired. I only know that matches can last for days. And people don’t get bored because they put money on them, so they are always interested in how the match goes.

jaipur

He then told me that they their arranged weddings do work because the mentality is different, people are ready to compromise to stay together, while in the Western World this is getting more and more difficult. Which is true. 

A bit earlier I had another interesting meeting. I was at a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and was looking at pooja (or puja), one of their celebrations-prayers, and I guy talked to me. He works for a travel agency, that provides buses and guides to groups of foreign tourists. He doesn’t understand why so many elderly from Europe come to India and spend all the time inside their buses, like in a cage. They go out of their hotels, get on the bus and get off just to visit palaces and museums. No walking in the streets. No talking to locals. They can’t even go to the shops they choose, they go where they are taken. Well, I guess some people are scared of somthing so different from their own country and growing old it gets more difficult. But he is right, that’s not traveling. It is true that here in India at some point you get tired and you don’t want to talk to anyone. But sometimes interesting exchanges can happen.

Jaipur is very pretty. “The Pink city”, it’s called. They use a lot of “sand stone” to build, which I am not sure what it is. I visited the palace of the town today. €4.5. A lot! But it was worth it. Inside was a museum with traditional clothes and accessories worn by Mahrajas. And it’s a nice building. When I went outside a guy on a rickshaw offered to take me on a ride. At 30 cents, for one hour. This included a visit to a couple of shops, that weren’t mentioned in the offer, but it was nice nevertheless. I bought some earrings at less than one euro. But I left the carpets where they were. In the factory where they pring saris, I was covered in golden powder. I’m still sparkling.

Bye from Jaipur, Rajasthan. A region famous for the colours of its fabrics.

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