vendredi 12 juin 2015

Palaces, Block Printing, and Weddings: Oh, My!

Woke up bright and early to enjoy some gobi paratha downstairs at the breakfast bar. I love breakfast more than anyone I know, so I think it is safe to say that I am an expert. I am here to give you my expert opinion and tell you that India has the breakfast food game on lock, no contest. I could live off of it forever. I have always been an early riser, so I was usually downstairs before anyone else in the group. Let me stop here for a second and mention that I loved getting ready with MTV India on in the background. So many new bangers for me to listen to! Anyway, I was enjoying my cappuccino while skimming the Jaipur Times. I was so pleased to see speculation that Professor Moriarty would play the villain in the new James Bond movie!!! Wonderful news. 

My group joined me and soon we were ready to begin the day. We headed out into the wild ass Jaipur traffic and made our way to the Jah Mahal (Water Palace). This thing is literally just raw in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. It is a 5 story building, 4 of which are underwater. Indians, what will y'all think of next?! I heard this is actually a hotel with 100+ rooms, but who knows? I didn't go inside, but it is a really nice, if not unusual, sight.

Today's main excursion was to Jaipur's City Palace. What a dazzling place! Man, India is full of jewels. City Palace was absolutely stunning. The enormous palace complex occupies one seventh of the walled city of Jaipur. You heard me! The palace began construction in 1729 at the behest of Sawai Jai Singh II, then ruler of Amber. He planned and built the outer walls but later additions were made by successive rulers right up to the 20th century. As you can see, they are heavy on the pink here, too. This flawless seven story building is the Chandra Mahal. Only the bottom floor is open for us plebes because descendants of the former Jaipur rulers still live here. The flag at the top is the Jaipur flag and it is only flown when royalty is in.

GUESS WHAT? I know y'all see this flag flying... the Prince of Jaipur was there! From what I gathered, he is 11 years old and goes to school in London. People who have more money than I ever will actually rent City Palace out to throw lavish parties/weddings. Man, invite me. What a venue.

This beautifully decorated creamsicle building is called Diwan-i-Khas. It was originally built to be used as the private audience hall of the Maharajas, so it's kinda like the Jaipur equivalent of the Palais Garnier lobby in Paris.

Aside from the awesome chandeliers, the Diwan-I-Khas houses these two big ass silver things. They are even in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the biggest silver vessels. They are made out of Valyrian steel... sike! They are made out of 14,000+ silver coins that were melted down. I mean, I guess. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II is the dude responsible for this. The reason these were created is because he used them to transport water taken from the Ganges to drink on his trip to England. They can hold 4,000 liters of water each! Here I thought I was being unreasonable for requesting a Big Gulp on road trips. Man, I'm totally kidding. It was actually for religious reasons. He was going to England for Edward VII’s coronation in 1901 and didn't want to commit a sin by drinking English (foreign) water. For those of y'all who weren't paying attention, I will remind you that Edward VII is the reason this city was painted "pink" to begin with.

Right next to City Palace was the Jantar Mantar observatory. I didn't take pictures here cause it is not really aesthetically pleasing and I was too busy geeking out. As a failed Astrophysicist and eternal space dweeb, observatories are always a treat. The name 'Jantar Mantar' is derived from Yantra Mantra, a Sanskrit term meaning "a device and formulae". It was so fucking cool to see these ancient instruments that STILL WORK! They have devices that can measure the height of celestial bodies, predict eclipses, predict the locations of constellations, etcetera. One of the coolest things I saw was the Samrat Yantra (Sun Dial). This thing is capable of telling the time, day or night, with an accuracy of about two seconds! It is one of the biggest attractions here and definitely cool.  

Next on the agenda was Sanganer, which is an area known for its printing. This was a fun little stop.  Along the way we passed the Hawa Mahal aka the Palace of Winds. It is called that due to its windows (953 of them!) that allow wind to flow through its corridors.

How many bottles of Windex do you think they go through? Man, I would hate to be in charge of these windows. Moving on-- Sanganer! We got to see the block printing process from beginning to end and it was really interesting. I am so glad screen printing exists, but there is still such beauty in knowing how to do these things by hand.


It was pretty cool to see how this is done. We all got to take one of these home, so that was a neat little memento. I was getting kinda hungry and dinner was a few hours away, so I will blame the following events on my afternoon snack:

Sorry, body.

Earlier that day, one of the guys in the group told us that he'd crashed a wedding the night before.  I couldn't stop laughing at how ridiculous that was. He was serious, too! I was kind of hating since I'd spent the night fighting with the internet and trying to Skype with my boyfriend without looking like I belonged in a game of Minecraft. The 13 hour time difference was such a headache! Anyway, the guy from my group told me he was going to do it again that night (but this time with others) and to let him know if I wanted to go. 

Along the drive back to the hotel, there seemed to be weddings popping off everywhere! It made sense to me, since it was now the end of the week. Women in their gorgeous sparkly saris flooded our hotel lobby. Y'all know how I get when I am in the midst of opulence. I swear there were like 5 weddings at our hotel alone! The men were killing the sartorial game, too. It was truly a sight. I had always wanted to go to a real life Indian wedding and I figured the time was now. Yeah, you read that right. I can't even explain my thought process lol. I was just going to pretend I was lost and take a peek, but next thing I knew I was sitting down at a table chatting with guests. I was invited to come inside and it was a blast! The wedding was beautiful. I was drunk on luxury, I guess. Indians really know how to party and they were so welcoming! I was kind of embarrassed cause that is such a weird thing to do, but I had to do it. I couldn't believe it was happening. I don't have pictures of the wedding cause I sort of have manners, but here is one that I took when I got back to my room. I apologize... for nothing! 

Tomorrow: this hungover asshole rides to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal!

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