Sunday, 26 April, 2009

April 17 – April 19, 2009.

That was the weekend trip to Jaipur that I had mentioned…and was obsessing over for the longest time. It finally arrived and it was…spectacular. All the beauty aside, I had honestly forgotten the sky is blue and not grey. I had forgotten what it was like to breathe in air that was clean and not blow black snot rockets out of my nose. Most of all…I got to experience my favorite kind of heat — DRY.

The drive itself was harrowing and I took several naps in an attempt to pretend that this shitty drive was not happening. Car sickness aside, it was the freaking insanity and stupidity of the other drivers (which is perfectly acceptable here) that really made me nervous. Several times I gasped and shut my eyes, waiting for the awful crunch of metal upon metal…yet it never came.

We arrived in Jaipur at about 8pm that night and checked into our hotel which was called Nana Ki Haveli, an absolutely GORGEOUS heritage hotel. It was built as a mini palace…the rooms are not quite as big as one would think and at times the bedding was a bit suspect, but all in all it was fabulous. We were the only guests at the time and it was a bit sad because normally (the owner/people who are direct descendants of the king/queen that lived there…or something like that) the place is so busy, but thanks to the global markets people just can’t come and visit. It was also so incredibly cheap I couldn’t believe it. For 3 days/2 nights it cost us only $100 with breakfast included. Our driver got to stay next door at the hotel specifically for drivers (!) and that cost an insane 600 rupees…about $12.

We went to diner the first night at this place that was to simulate an Indian village. We ate traditional Rajesthani food in a traditional setting…sitting on the floor. I got bug bites. Lovely. Well, I am pretty sure they were mosquitoes. So I’ve discovered (thanks to our friend Parul) that there is this BUG kind of thing that is a cross between a fly and a mosquito. It’s not as big as a fly, but it’s not as small as a mosquito and the BASTARD DRINKS BLOOD. What a lovely thing for me to discover, eh? Of course,t he bug makes a beeline for me, sweet meat girl. After gorging ourselves on food, we walked around the traditional village and colin was able to get some really nice shots from dinner, the dancers and the magician. It was also the night I got the mehendi (prounounced mendi) done on my hands and arm. It is now just fading a week later! It was funny because somehow Rajesh (the driver) ended up blocking the way of some random driver. I had his headlights on my side of the car and he was so angry, blowing his horn and I could see he was just peeved. I looked at him, smiled and waved. He looked shocked. Then Rajesh drove off, leaving the poor man in the middle of the intersection. Parul was laughing so hard and said I had scandalized the poor man. I didn’t understand…how did I scandalize him? All I did was smile and wave. That was considered flirting and a very forward sign of "come on and follow me, let’s get busy!" Who would’ve ever known?

After that, we went home and got ready for the big day — Saturday.

Why was Saturday such a big day? Why, it’s when I went to go buy some wholesale silver jewelry.

The first place we went to was a place I found online called Dwarka – their wholesale lot was incredible, but also a bit pricey. The quality, however, is excellent. I will be posting things in my jewelry blog of my exciting finds.

I arrived 2 hours early, but it was ok…they seemed to not mind. I think they were a bit shocked because everyone runs on IST (Indian Standard Time) and this about 1 hour later than the time stated. From noon till 4 I was off picking and choosing things from the showroom. In that time, I came across an obnoxious Australian couple…well, the guy moreso than the girl. Ugh, it was so awful listening to them. I was actually embarrassed for them prattling on and on about the most ridiculous things and being so loud…ugh. Then I could hear the Frenchman at the table next to me, equally annoyed at the Australian couple. He kept looking over his shoulder and giving them dirty looks, but the couple was absolutely clueless. The couple kept bitching about how hot it was in the showroom and kept demaning that the AC be turned up and the fan turned on higher. When they couldn’t take it, they grabbed the remotes and turned up the fans and the AC…Yea, classy, huh? Imagine sitting through 4 hours of that!

So, while I was perusing the jewelry, Colin got to go to the factory with the owner of Dwarka. I am so jealous. Next to buying jewelry, the artisan in me loves seeing another artisan at work – it’s truly one of my biggest passions. Colin showed the owner of Dwarka (the owner himself had studied jewelry design in Italy for 6 years before returning to India) my work…I was so embarrassed, but he seemed impressed. Too bad Colin didn’t have pictures of my more recent works. I am definitely far more proud of those. Anyway, Colin ended up taking pictures of the factory and the owner just LOVED it. Colin and the owner have kept in touch and it seems that he knew I was so jealous about going to the factory that on our next trip, I will get to go and check it out. *squees* Also, the owner wants to use Colin’s pics on his website. wuwu for my honey!

So we were late, and I felt so bad because my next appointment was at *gulp* 4pm. We got out of there at 4pm, but we were hungry and I didn’t want Colin getting all low blood sugar shakes on me. Down the road we found this vegetarian (like we would never find one in India *rolls eyes*) restaurant called Four Seasons. I got the pizza while Colin ordered chicken chow mein. I almost took over all his food it was that good! My pizza was so so…and I have discovered that I am now "Indianized" – I like mustard on almost everything. So guess who ate her cheese pizza with a spicy yellow mustard? That would be me. Yup, me. The girl who swore up and down that mustard was the devil’s creation and anyone who ate it was the spawn of satan himself. Yea, I guess I had to realize that Satan is my father. :p Better late than never, I guess.

The second place we visited was right around the corner from our hotel in Johari Bazaar. The prices were a lot less than Dwarka and the craftsmanship is slightly subpar, but the pieces I purchased will hold together and that was what mattered to me the most – durability. I am rough with my jewelry and I wanted to make sure that what I purchased would be able to stand the test of the brutality of everyday a la Carina. I found massive lots of mystic topaz (how I love that stone) and I hope to be able to share them with you all. Sadly, no pictures of the store, but it was much smaller than Dwarka. They also had an amazing selection of gemstone beads and I purchased the only synthetic stone I would ever let myself purchase — a strand of synthetic Alexandrite. Now, I love Alexandrite, but that is the only stone I can accept as a synthetic on me. Why, do you ask? Well, 5 years ago it was going for about $30,000 a carat. Understand why I would take it like that now? 😉 Had I known about their lovely quality of gemstones, I’d have alloted more in the budget for gemstones, not just silver jewelry. There is a pair of earrings that I purchased (they only had 2 of them in blue topaz) and am dying to wear, but Colin said no. LOL I have to sell them. I’m ok with that. 🙂

It was funny because when I spoke with the guys from the 2nd place, they were adamant about me not getting anyone like a rickshaw driver to come and bring me to the door. I didn’t know why until they explained it — the rickshaw/taxi drivers would get a percent of the sale! So when we first arrived, they thought that I had arrived by a rickshaw guy and the price was a bit inflated, so much so to the point that I had to ask why it was so high. Then they realized that I was not who they thought I was…I had an IM convo going with them all day…and my phone suddenly went PING as I received an IM from them. LOL Now that it was understood, the prices dropped enough for me to buy.

After all this time, who knew that my passion and love for gemstones would lead me to where I am now? I can’t believe that even after all this time, this is something I still love and go on for days about. I am so lucky and blessed to have what I have…and the life that I live.

So after that long day of shopping, I was exhausted and overwhelmed, completely blinded by all the shiny things I saw. We left the 2nd store at 8pm. We ended up meeting Parul for dinner. We ate at the Jai Mahal Palace, yet another spectacular place and is also owned by the same people that own the Rambagh Palace, but that will be in the next paragraph. Even though it was late at night when we arrived at the Jai Mahal Palace, the grounds with the lighting were massively impressive. It made me want to return during the day. They had 4 restaurants we could choose from – Continental dining, Italian, India and Chinese. Crazy. We ended up doing the continental dining, but because Parul had worked for the hotel chain before, she knew the chef and we got very special treatment. I ordered a creamy chicken curry with onion kulcha…that was the BEST chicken a la king. LOL I love chicken a la king and I can never find a place that does it right. Imagine going to India to find it. LOL Dinner was wonderful and the company was superb. We went back to the hotel room. While Colin slept, I fondled some jewelry that I had purchased before passing out.

The next morning we got up somewhat early because Colin was insisting that Parul and her mother take me sari shopping. We met up at 11, got to the sari place by 11:45am and I was done by 12:30pm. Parul and her mother were quite shocked to say the least – I knew what I wanted and found exactly what I was looking for. I am so happy with my purchases — they are freaking GORGEOUS. One isn’t quite a fuschia color, it’s a bit darker with some lovely threading at the edges and the other I purchased because I loved the colors so much – it reminded me of a peacock. Now I just have to find a place to get the shirt made and some pants made..and I also have to buy some shoes. urgh. 🙁 That entails more shopping. Contrary to this update, I hate shopping…I really do. I know it’s hard to believe when you read all of this, but I hate it. I am not good when faced with limitless choices. I have to formulate a plan in my head, know what I want, or else I could be set adrift in a store and wander aimlessly for hours lost in not knowing what to purchase.

Anyway, because we ended early, Parul and her mother went off to do their family stuff before Parul left with us at 4pm. Colin and I went to go kill some time and we ended up at the Rambagh Palace. Now what is interesting about the Rambagh Palace and the Jai Mahal Palace is that the descendents from both of the families still live on the property – royalty can mingle with the guests! You never know. 🙂 Kinda cool. Anyway, Colin and I ate at the continental cuisine at the Rambagh…we both split the tomato soup appetizer — that had to be the BEST tomato soup I had ever tasted. I was at a loss for words. I prefer my tomato soup creamy , but this wasn’t creamy at all…and there was a prawn in it that made me go nuts because it was the most exquisite prawn I had ever tasted – it was buttery and melted in my mouth. I barely had to chew. Colin ordered a chinese tiger prawn dish. Those had to be the biggest prawns I had ever laid my eyes upon – I am not joking when I say they could’ve easily been 4-5 inches in width…and he had FOUR of them on his plate. FOUR. They were huge – they were like the feet of some newborn. I had a club sandwich, but not any old kind of club…it was chicken, bacon and egg. LOL It was out of this world. Colin was so enamored with his prawns that we ended up musing, "Who would’ve thought that to get the best seafood we’d have to go to a desert in India?!"

The drive back was somewhat uneventful — I fell asleep several times because, well, it’s traffic in India…all in all, it was a wonderful weekend. I can’t wait to go back to Jaipur. I’m making my shopping list… Poor Colin, dragged again to Jaipur. LOL


Day 127

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