Pink City Express to Jaipur

 

Monday,  7th February 1994

We woke up early again at 4:45am.

I still felt shitty and ordered some room service bread rolls and a large pot of coffee to try to calm my stomach down a bit.

We ordered a taxi and headed out.  This time we went to “Old” Delhi railway station.  This was the station for the metre gauge (narrower than the broad gauge that formed most of India’s railways) network. We found it much nicer and more compact than New Delhi.

We boarded the metre gauge “Pink City Express” bound for Jaipur.  Even though it was to be a daytime trip we had a nice AC sleeper compartment to ourselves and we fell asleep waiting for the 06:00 departure.

We woke up an hour or so later and looked out the window. We were startled to see that the scenery was now almost desert-like with camel-hauled carts and sand everywhere.  This was surprising as we were not so far out of Delhi.  Although it was to the west Jaipur (300km) was not that much further from Delhi than Agra had been.

We pulled into Jaipur station at about 12:30pm.  As we were looking around for the tourist office an auto rickshaw driver came up to us and asked us if he could take us to our hotel.

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He was ultra-polite and not in the least pushy.  He presented us with a note book and suggested we should read the recommendations in it.   This was the first time I had seen this system.  It was not to be last.

We flicked through the book and found lots of rave reviews from other westerners who had used his services.  The reviews were obviously genuine as there were some photographs glued into the book with pictures of the driver with his clients.

The driver’s name was Naim and we decided to book him for the two days we were in Jaipur.  We went first to our hotel, the Jaimahal Palace, and Naim waited whilst we had lunch on the terrace.  It was a fantastic meal and I started to feel a lot better.

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We boarded Naim’s auto rickshaw and went off to tour Jaipur or “the pink city” as Jaipur is nicknamed.  We went into the city, visited the Palace of the Winds, some of the museums and the observatory.

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We also spent some of the early evening shopping in silk shops before Naim dropped us back at the hotel.

For dinner we had Rajistani thalis, in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions which we shared with each other.  The room at the Jaimahal palace was beautiful and very comfortable.  We slept reasonably well but my stomach still kept me awake a bit.

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Tuesday, 8th Feb 1994

We woke up at 9am and checked out of the hotel.

We had arranged to meet Naim for breakfast and he took us to a little place famous for lassi served in clay pots.  The lassi was delicious and we had a really nice chat with Naim all about the city and his own experiences showing people around.

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We headed up to the Amber fort and had a look at the Lake Palace on the way.   The visit to the fort was very interesting and there was a beautiful view of the whole of Jaipur from it.

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For lunch we went to the Rainbow café and enjoyed a terrific vegetable biriyani, some chicken curry and a cup of ginger chai whilst chatting to a French girl who was living in Jaipur.

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We went to the city palace for a look around and then we went shopping with Naim. After a bit of looking around my wife found some Indian jewellery and a sari.

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We returned to the hotel briefly to pick up our luggage and then Naim invited us to his friend’s house for the evening.  It was a lovely experience and a great insight into how the local people lived.

He explained that he was Muslim but the friends were Hindu. He told us that they all got on really well together.  They made a big fuss of us and my wife spent most of the evening trying on saris.  They even gave her presents of bindis and bracelets.   We were sorry to leave but we had a train to catch.

Naim took us to the station and then we invited him for a beer at the station.   We wrote a glowing account of our visit in his note book and I added the words “Don’t hesitate for a second to hire this guy” in big letters at the bottom.

We said one last goodbye and then boarded the 9615 Chetak Express heading overnight to Udaipur.

Chetak Express to Udiapur