I ve mentioned before in other posts about driving in India - in other words unless you're born there or have an amazing India transportation navigation system in your head to handle cattle, rickshaws, motorcycles, vehicles and trucks all at once then fair enough, drive away. If you don't have these amazing gifts, don't do it. I'm not saying that because ooh I want to be different from other bloggers about my thoughts/views on India, I'm saying this because I'm serious about safety when travelling. Don't do it - get someone who knows what he or she is doing (mostly he, you rarely see women drivers now that I think about it). I'll give you an example.
The trip to Agra was complete. Saw the Agra Fort, saw the Taj Mahal. We left Agra around 12:45pm. So my driver (Stanley is his name and he is the best driver you could ask for!!) and I are puttering along the main route to get to Jaipur except, wait, hello what's this - a roadblock? Ok fine, so we go off the main road. Now here is why you shouldn't drive in India unless you're a damn pro. See I was thinking it must be a small detour and boom we're right back on the highway, no problemo right? Steve was about to get a very, very interesting education on India's transportation system, and a glimpse into the inner workings into the minds of public works department workers. So anyway we're detoured off the highway and driving on sideroads that are kind of, oh forget it, Im not going to pussyfoot around this, they were just very, very, very, incredibly dangerous. Huge holes, missing pavement, no pavement at all except dirt/mud, sometimes you're not even sure if you even should be driving on the road or just take a shortcut through someone's field because it may be safer to do so! Can I say this though? The India countryside is breathtakingly beautiful – so beautiful. Take your mind off the crap on the road and look at the landscape- awesome.Can you see why, despite the problems encountered that the country, and its people are burying itself under my skin??
As the journey progressed (three hours and counting) I witnessed quite a few cases of trucks losing wheels and such because of the huge holes in the road. This ended up creating massive traffic jams. Busses and cars were getting stuck in huge sinkholes, it was lovely. One bright spot was the reaction that I got from the neighboring villagers. They must have been in their glee having never seen so many cars and trucks converge in the area at once! They were having a good old time helping to push the idiots who decided, well, lets just pass the main cars and see if we can be first only to head straight into a ditch. As for me, I felt sort of like a celebrity because the villagers went nuts when they saw me. Here I am thinking ok my skin colour is really not that different from yours but they thought otherwise. Kids were banging on the car window wanting to talk. Old men and women we're getting up to stare, then they smiled, then they waved. Young guys were absolutely enthralled with my iPod and Amazon Kindle. Message to Oprah: since you're such a huge fan of the kindle, how about sending that along with some of the crap you babble endlessly about on your show to people who actually deserve it instead of overindulgent housewives from the Midwest!!I can think of about 10,000 young people in India who would love a kindle!! I'm not going to babble on (too late) suffice to say that the regular two and half hour trip from Agra to Jaipur ended up taking eight, almost nine hours. Why? We didn't know this at the time but see the workers who were maintaining the main route from Agra to Jaipur decided to go on strike thus screwing everyone else up on their way to and from the place. After the no shoes debacle at Agra and now confronted with the eight hours in the car, yeah I wasn't loving India so much. When we finally made it to Jaipur. I headed straight for the bar. Beleive me, it was needed!!
Two martinis later, a very long, hot shower (God there is nothing like a long hot shower on a tired body eh?) in my fabulous room, a great sleep in my comfy bed(look at the bed, come to think of it, my entire room when I put up the pictures – it's so OTT I love it!!) followed by very tasty breakfast the next morning (as a hungry man travelling, my breakfast never changes: cereal, usually cornflakes with banana if available; yoghurt with fruit, toast and an egg of some sort and big pot of tea) I was back to myself again. Jaipur is beautiful but fading. The place is known for the faded pink palace and pink buildings in its walled city. It's also known as the place were the first observatory is established – I think Id better double check that. No pictures of the observatory though - yeah I was getting tired of taking pics at this point but it's ok, I have a few others to show. Next post: Pictures of Jaipur and Neemrana.