The title of this post, as you may have guessed, is not a town, but a state of being. We have both had Delhi Belly, me not so bad, Tall Girl…bad. One can never tell if it is food or a bug or what, but she isn’t well and can’t even keep an antibiotic or anti-vomit tablet down. Of course there is always a silver lining, and I now have time to catch up with travel tales while she sleeps.

Our plan was always to get to Jaipur, but it wasn’t until after we had booked flights (don’t get me started on Air Asia…grrrr…) that we discovered we would be in India for Holi, which according to wikipedia is

…known as the Festival of Colours, Festival of Spring, and Festival of Love. One of the most popular and significant festivals in Hinduism. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of the god Radha and Krishna.

and Jaipur would be a great place to be. So we had to make a bit of haste across country to be here in time for March 6th and as usual, it was worth it.

First mission was to head out with Balu (Ajeet’s brother and partner in Chillout Hotel, Jaipur) to buy some coloured powder. You may have seen bags of this stuff at colour runs and things like that, but being in a shop that has bales of 10Kg bags is something else. We only bought 10kg each of 5 colours. I rode shotgun in a tuk-tuk hired just for the delivery back to the hotel.

In the evening of the full moon the festival gets under way. We had seen piles of wood stacked like bonfires all over the place and you’ll never guess what they were…yes, bonfires.

In parks, in village squares or just in the street.

The men (of course) put some wheat or other grain on the end of a long pole, then into the fire while the women pour some water on the ground. Some ashes are then collected (by the men, of course) and are taken home to be used to mark the forehead during Puja. There were fires like that every hundred metres or so along every road.

Later that evening we went with Ajeet to the family farm at Barala, about 2 hours drive from Jaipur. We arrived late, everyone was asleep, but beds were prepared and we woke to rural India

They grow mainly wheat with some mustard seed and green leafies such as coriander. It wasn’t long before we were out in the fields picking for the hotel restaurant

and doing women’s work…

I knew the family from previous visits so there wasn’t any of the usual shyness which was wonderful. Needless to say, Tall Girl was right at home, finally getting some henna art on her hand.

We hadn’t even left the village before we looked like this

This doesn’t all happen in a context of “I’m going to ‘get’ you” and to be avoided. Quite the opposite. People walk up to each other with a handful of colour and smear it on their faces and wish Happy Holi. It is joyous and fun and everyone is into it * ^

* this is a Hindu festival, so not everyone

^ in the case of older people, you would colour their feet if requested

Back to Chillout where the fun was certainly under way


Of course, eventually it gets out of hand…and then the fun really begins

I am not sure if our clothes will ever be back to the original colours.

Ajeet has another project in mind so we head off with him to Mandwara, Rajasthan to have a look at a haveli, an old huge family home. One of many in Mandwara

Arriving at night it was astounding. In the daylight it was still incredible, but the problems became more obvious i.e. the amount of money needed to get it up to deluxe level and keep it there would be enormous.

And in other havelis…a deluxe room

a super deluxe room…as usual, in a photo you just don’t get how spectacular this was.

On the way back Ajeet had a surprise for me…another stepwell. Not very big or deep, but they are restoring it which is fantastic. Finally the Indian government is recognising the importance of these and declaring them heritage sites.

Hmmm…around the back…I wonder what that group of people is doing there, let’s go and have a look. Tall Girl was a little reluctant and thought they were waving us away. Hah! I know better…I love the outcome and her willingness to say “yes”.

Enough for now… stand by for the fully sick Bollywood movie adventure.

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