29 Dec 2015

India by bskinna

6/17

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Watching parakeets flit around the city of Fatehphur Sikri. It was abandoned after only 50 years of use when the well ran dry and the palaces and mosques are evocative in their ruin. We got here pretty early after leaving the hellish Agra traffic (notables sited: a goat wearing a tiny sweater, a rickshaw with a large shrine to Andy Sandburg on the back [to my dying day I will be bitter I wasn't able to capture a photo] and a full family of 6 all squeezed in a single motorbike).

The city itself is breathtaking but similar in style to the other forts we've seen, and honestly red sandstone is starting to blend together for me. Its the mosque that grabbed my attention- the tile work and the carvings were mostly intact and gorgeously colored.

I also made two adorable friends after passing over some oranges and a bottled water. I think the hardest part of travel here by far has been the massive amount of children begging on the streets and outside the monuments. They run in little groups and are barefoot and make the sign for hungry. It's completely heartbreaking, and a total moral bind. The kids are usually sent out by an adult "collector" who acts almost like a pimp according to the guides I've read, so you know rationally that passing over money isn't going to really help them, but doing nothing while a probable orphan tugs on your pants and makes the sign for hungry is about impossible and I feel like a monster. I've read about a couple charities that do outreach and education programs that I'm planning on giving to, and in the meantime I'm passing over bananas or oranges. Not super helpful I'm sure but it usually gets a smile at least.

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Crossed into Rajasthan and arrived at our kickass Airbnb! It's open and airy and furnished with wood pieces and twisted metal statues and lush house plants. There's a solarium with a hammock overlooking the pink city's rooftops, and our host is bringing us breakfast and chai there tomorrow. I'm not mad about it. (Fun fact I just learned, chai actually means tea, so when you order a "chai tea" you're actually ordering a "tea tea", which is understandably not super helpful. Masala chai is what most people are thinking of, and it's completely delightful here).

I'm glad to be sticking to Jaipur for the next couple of days, the driving heavy legs are not the best of the trip. For three people spending as much time together as we are I think we've kept conversation rolling pretty well, but after 5 hours spent zipping past trucks and motorcycles, everybody's tapped out.

Our host is a delight. She's a short sturdy older woman who seemed to radiate good cheer and self assurance as she called up tea and arranged a driver and generally streamlined our stay. Her husband is one of the top sculptures in India (his work is all around the space here and it's divine), her daughter and son are a graphic and a fashion designer respectively (one of whom is "traveling for some time in South Africa") and I want her to adopt me so I can be as cool as apparently this whole damn family is. Anyways, I'm exhausted and have the best shower and the most comfortable bed of the trip so far calling my name.