Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hawa Mahal

We enjoyed our day so much with the Welser's we tagged along for another adventure to the Hawa Mahal today. This five story structure was constructed so the women could watch the comings and goings of the city street without being seen themselves. Tiny shuttered peep holes line the structure which in elaborately decorated on the front and plain on the inside. We climbed all through it imagining what it must have been like to live during those times.

Raees continues to be our driver. He speaks good English and is a safe and good driver...if there is such a thing in a place where there are no rules of the road. The rides through the city continue to be one of our favorite things even though it feels like we seem to be taking our lives into our own hands.
Raees with his son, mother, shop worker and Welser boys

Shopping was the afternoon activity and Raees knew right where to take us. We are certain he is earning a commission by taking us to some of these places, but the guide books indicate that this is a common practice. What stood out for me was the bangle shop that happened to be right next door to Raees' house. Hmmm...It was great fun to have this darling young girl try bracelets on Karen and I. I'm certain she thought that we were crazy Americans, but all in fun. Meanwhile, the boys (the two adult ones and the two younger ones) of our group, were sitting street side attracting quite a mob of people. The little children especially want us to take their picture and if nothing else enjoy staring at us.

Chatting with the local children

These interactions with the people have been the highlights of the trip for me. I love trying to talk with them and hear about their lives. As we concluded our business at the bangle shop, we got to meet Raees' mother and his son. An interesting side note about his Australian couple is paying for him to attend American school in the afternoons because Raees can not afford these luxuries. It is 3000RS every 3 months for him to attend this school and he is very proud of him.

Dropping off the men poolside, left Karen and I free for a couple more hours of shopping. Raees took us around a bit more. I think we've traveled every street in the city at least twice and still nothing looks familiar. On this night, a Hindu festival was beginning and we got caught in a huge traffic jam. There were costumed people and and beautiful sari's everywhere not to mention music and wonderful smelling foods wafting form the vendors.

Reaching the Alsisar Haveli marked another successful day. I am loving Jaipur. It is dirty, busy, chaotic and unpredictable and fabulous. This kind of place heightens your senses and it is wonderful.

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