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hmmm, not so great!

semi-overcast 35 °C

Written on July 3...
Oh my... Jaipur... Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form a triangle, which is the standard tourist route. From what I've seen, Agra doesn't have much to offer other than the Taj (I heard the Red Fort was nice too, but I didn't bother - after the Taj everything is like :hmmff) and Jaipur DEFINITELY doesn't have much to offer!
I think it's only on the route to make a loop/tourist circuit. It's in the province of Rajasthan, which is known for it's handicrafts and some interesting architecture....It's interesting indeed, but no where near awsome or breathtaking, and the hassle of the town doesn’t make it worth it at all. I arrived last night and am leaving tomorrow for a town called Jodhpur (in the same province, further West). Ideally, I'd like to make it to Jalsaimer (still further West) and ride on a camel (!!!), but I don't think I'll have enough time... we'll see. There are camels around here already, but they are mostly used to pull carts (instead of horse or donkeys)! So cool! Camels are way too cute! and they walk with their head high and proud, their faces seemingly saying "I know I'm hot!" hehehe I haven't got a good pic yet, but will make sure to get one (it's becoming interesting again, now that I have a memory card that fully works!! It's only 512MB - as opposed to the old 2G- but it'll do!).
I think I had a bit of a revelation yesterday, about the Indians... It first came from a movement that they use often, a tilt of the head to the side, which means yes. It's not as clear as our yes sign, as their facial gesture generally is not positive (their face seems to say no), yet it means yes...I was wondering where that came from and why Indians were so hard to deal with... My "not-in-depth-socio-economic-analysis-based-on-no-scientific-data-what-so-ever" tells me that it's a multi-faceted issue, stemming from 1 main thing: the ever present prospect of poverty, or, if you don't get it, someone else will. You see, I've noticed a long time ago that Indians have to be very entrepreneur or they'll be poor. This is oh so ever true, which means that they are looking for a "buck" everywhere, all the time. If you happen to be the current bearer of that $, they'll hound you until they have it, or if it's not them someone else will. As a result, the place is highly corrupted, at every level. Everyone works for a commission, some backshish will get you in or out of anything anywhere, and everyone is out to get as much $ out of everyone else. Us, "rich white" tourists are prime targets in a society where we don't speak the language and don't get half (if that) of what's happening around us. It makes for some (many) frustration and if it doesn’t get to you right away, it eventually will. When that happens, your attitude changes and you become harder to deal with, harsher in your gesture and refusals.
I'm there now. I've been in India for about 1 month and I've changed significantly in my dealings with people (still try to be nice, but less and less), despite that fact that I know I'll get to leave and go home to my nice, easy, cozy life.
So imagine an Indian who was born here and has had to fight like that all his life, an has no prospect of leaving or changing anything! This revelation came as I noticed how men interact with one another (not friends - but anywhere else, at the shop, restaurant, bus/train station, etc). Every single interaction is a mini fight. Faces are long and serious, heads are shaking, hands are flying (they gesture a lot here), words are exchanges, and eventually, one of the two does the side head tilt, which I interpret as being a sort of surrender, or acceptance to the other guy's terms...Essentially, the one who "wins less or loses most" does the tilt...It's not only with men, women as well, but they do less of the talking then men. Older women are more "seasoned". Anyway, it's hard to explain, but it's very clear when you see it here. The same applies to other aspects of daily life. Give 1 inch to an Indian, s/he'll take it, and nudges his/her way to eventually take 1 foot, yard, etc. I think it, once again, comes from having nothing and having to fight for everything. You become a fighter, all the time! I think that's what so difficult for us tourists, we're not used to fighting for everything, and it's definitely a draining experience!
The young Indian I took the bus with for a portion of the trip to Haridwar actually didn't believe me that he would pay the same thing as me for any product if he came to Canada! There is not such thing here. I tried to tell him that we never barther (or almost never-think of how many people dread having to negotiate for a car...it's one of the rare things we negotiate and many people barely do it, if at all!!). There's a price on everything and that's the price everyone pays. He didn't really believe me.. that's how entrenched it is in their mentality and habits. Anything else is almost inconceivable! I told him we were soft in Ca/US, and he told me the story of when he got trained to work in a call centre. The manager said, on how to speak with customer, to treat a 40yrs old American man as you would a 10 yrs old Indian boy. I totally believe it! hehehe (actually, I know from how I got spoke to when I called "my old co's" IT tech support! hehehe).
Anyway, the other aspect is that you have to take whatever comes your way and ask for more. That's how I've always been dealt with since I've been here. You have to push and shove to get in trains and buses (I got elbowed by old ladies who sneaked in front of me and got my seat!-more than once!). The same applies on the roads here, which are the absolute craziest thing ever seen!!! Everyone is going everywhere – mostly in the same direction, but not all, and they simply honk their way through, honking as they cut people off (which happens literally all the time), as the people are not moving fast enough, as people are too close, as…any reason. I tried to see how we could have them start to drive without the constant honking, but I must admit that I don’t really see it…it would involve actual respect of road regulations (getting your driver license is mostly a question of paying the right guy, and it shows), and having dedicated lanes for fast and slow moving vehicles (the variety of size, formats and speeds of vehicles is just amazing, from the bicycle to the bus, via the motorbike, bike rickshaw, motor rickshaw, bike cargo transport, camel/horse/donkey cart, , trucks, cars, etc) I unfortunately don’t see it happen….
Which also brings me to something else. I’ve had that conversation with many people. They are very quick to put themselves down (the Indians), pointing to the faults of their society and stuff. Each time I ask how to fix, no one ever has an answer… that think that’s part of the problem. I’m still debating on whether they have a national pride or not… I’m not sure. I think they do in a sense, but hey are also very realist about their reality (the suckiness of it). They know their habits are not very sanitary (toilets, throwing things everywhere, spitting) and that the system is sooo corrupt (how could they possibly not know!!), and that their society is just plain harsh and dangerous.
I’ve been told, at least in every city by at least 1 person, if not more, to never trust Indians. To always be careful and never trust!!! Would we say that to visitors in Ca??? or even in the US??? Probably not. Not that there aren’t any scam artists in our countries!
This makes me remember a funny bit with the young Indian on the bus ride: He asked me if people got gunned down on the streets a lot (someone taking a gun, right on the street and shooting someone else), maybe not in Canada, but in the US. I said that I’ve never seen it, but it happens, and asked why he was asking. He told me that they did that often in the movies (he said he watched only American movies, no Bollywood), and since movies are a reflection of reality, it must mean that it happened often… I replied that I don’t think movies are always a reflection of reality, and that the proof is that I’ve never seen Indians starting to sing and dance every 5 minutes (every Bollywood movie has at least 5-10 songs - essentially, they’re musicals!), but they always do in the movies! Hehehe, he laughed and agreed with my point! Hehehe I’d love to see the Indians burst out in a song and gig once in a while! It’d lift the mood! Hehehe
So anyway, end of the psycho-analysis of the people of India…for now…
Today I visited the major tourist sites, Amber fort (first fort where the Maharaja lived-before Jaipur existed), City Palace (where the Maharajah moved when the city was built 270 yrs ago -and still lives today) and Jantar Mantar. It’s the largest of 4 sites built in India in the 1700’s. where a man built massive instruments to read the time (sun dial), and the position of the starts and stuff. These devices are made of concrete or rocks, and are apparently quite precise. You’ve probably heard about it (I had from a National geographic doc a while ago), and if not…google it! Hehehe. It was nice to see it in real life. We also stopped by smaller less significant sites, and more annoyingly, to shops of all sorts. Once again, this is back to this whole “trying to make more $$”. I had agreed ot a price of 150R for the day with the rickshaw driver, down from 250R. However, or it probably would have happened anyway, to try to make more $$, he gets commissions if he brings me to a shop and if I stay a certain period of time inside (10-15mins) –it’s the same system in Thailand. So this guy started by bringing me to a gem shop (gem polishing and cutting is a massive industry in India). The jewelry was indeed very nice and seemingly high quality, but the prices were far from cheap and I had no intentions to buy anything. I good faith, I looked around and acted interested. They are very aggressive salesmen here (back to the “if they don’t buy it from you they’ll get it from someone else and you’ll have nothing and be poor” theory). Whatever, he then proceeded to bring me to a textile shop. I said, ok but this is the last, after back to sight seeing. He said ok ok. They also had nice stuff (bags, cousins, bedspreads, scarves, etc) , but it was way too expensive.
-Side note: Shopping here in India so far is my main disappointment! I had expected a gem of cool stuff at good prices. Instead I get shitty stuff (all look like you could pick it up at the Dollar store), and the “somewhat interesting” stuff is freaking outrageously pricey! Big disappointment and I’m struggling (and failing) to find stuff for friends and family. End of side note.
SO anyway. Around 2pm I hadn’t had food yet (and you know how I get without food – aka cranky), after the 3rd shop, I told him no more, back to the hotel. I might as well have told him “please bring me to as many shops as you may think!!”, as he tried for a 4th. I just stayed in the rickshaw, as he was trying to coax me out (verbally) I just stayed put and said, no back to the hotel. Despite this, he still tried 2 MORE shops! I was getting very annoyed and said that if he brought me to 1 more place other than the hotel I was getting off and not paying him (ok, I didn’t actually say that but I really thought it very strongly, I fantasized about it – his English wasn’t good enough, he wouldn’t have understood me anyway!), but I just started saying no very vehemently with wide gesturing and it finally worked! (gees!). So anyway, by that point I was annoyed, hungry and just plain tired or all Indians (classic case of generalizing) so I headed to Dominos pizza (hehehe) and enjoyed a “totally non-indian” food. It was good! Hehehe They had a special, for 10 R more you got a 2nd pizza so I took it, either for dinner or to give to beggars (many kids beg for food around here). I, not surprisingly, got hit for food very shortly by kids, so I gave a slice to a kid with a smaller kid in her arm. She asked for another for the “almost baby” and followed me for half a block for a 2nd slice!! Gees! She just wouldn’t be happy with one, she had to get 2, which at that point I decided I wouldn’t give her…just out of being annoyed again (she didn’t pick her day)…Anyway.
Later, I was walking on the street, trying to look around (important note: I can’t walk or sit anywhere for less than 2 mins before someone comes up to me, either just to say hello, or to chat, and around here, to sell me something. Hello is not a word I don’t like very much, just out of sheer abuse.) when a guy came up to me and started chatting me up. I had my “F off” face on, from being annoyed for a good portion of the day and he asked me why when he tried to speak to foreigners they sometimes didn’t want to talk. I told him that it’s because we get accosted 100 times a day, and around here, everyone wants to sell you something, 99%of the time. They all say that they don’t, but eventually they do. He explained a little that he just wanted to chat and invite me for tea, but when I told him no 4-5 times (to tea), he finally retreated… hehehe Honestly, I’m sure he ultimately had a motive, they always do when they accost you on the street (it’s different if it’s someone you sit beside in the bus or train, but if they come to you, there’s always a motive).
SO anyway, that the story for today. Tomorrow I hope Jodhpur reconciles me with Indai. I still love it, just a bit less unconditionally! hehehe

Posted by Mistrale 06:14 Archived in India

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!!!There's a thread on tripadvisor about a rickshaw driver called Om from Jaipur!!!

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by Morgana20

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