Jaipur, the Terracotta City

December 1, 2015

Jaipur is actually called the “Pink City”, ever since Prince Edward’s visit back in 1876.  The Maharaja Ram Singh had ordered that the city be painted this rosy shade, a color representative of warm hospitality, in advance of the royal’s visit.  I kept my eye out for the bubblegum hue, but it really is a more natural shade of terracotta.  We decided to up our accommodation budget for our three nights here, staying at the Umaid Mahal, a lovely midrange heritage hotel, with a sparkling, mirrored mosaic entry, mini pool, Durbar Hall, colorful Indian frescoes painted on walls and ceilings, and rooftop linen restaurant, far from any street noises below.  The splurge was in honor of my November 2nd birthday, as I need no gifts, only good memories!

However, our arrival began with the discovery that some Ayurvedic hair oil that I had purchased days ago, had opened and leaked all over the interior contents of my backpack.  There were literal puddles within my bag, as Dan helped me empty dripping packing cubes of now, stained garments. A vigorous washing session ensued for the next hour as we tried to remove oil from my baggage and clothing, with lukewarm water and bars of soap. At least this mini catastrophe was occurring on the first of three days spent in one place, and my backpack had some time to dry out before repacking.

Our second, and full day in Jaipur was spent driving to and from the major sights.  Once again spending time in forts, palaces and museums, per below.

Hawa Mahal, an elaborate facade that enabled Royal women to watch the city and street processions unseen, plus some examples of these thoroughfares:

Amber Fort and surrounds, with its gates, courtyards, palaces, and secluded women’s quarters :

Jantar Mantar, the observatory and UNESCO world heritage site, which was much more impressive than I would have ever thought.  Built in 1728, and acting as an astrological and astronomic center, with large sculptural instruments of calculation:

The City Palace/ Museum complex:

The next day was my birthday, and I didn’t want to do anything touristy.  Instead, I started my 43rd year with an hour-long Ayurvedic massage (with lots of oil!).  At this date, I had hand washed several clothing items that seemed to be permanently stained, and had a professional launder also try a second scrubbing, with poor results.  I now had an excuse to shop for new clothes, an experience I find daunting in India, with all of the haggling and fear of getting ripped off.  Our family lasted a half hour in the bazaar without buying a thing before calling it quits.  Instead, we opted to spend 3 hours in an old traditional movie theater, enjoying the spectacle of Bollywood cinema. This was one of the highlights of our Jaipur stay, a chance to be entertained by a familiar media, albeit a cheesy production that we didn’t always understand.  I had then been planning to have a fancy western dinner, but the owner of our driver/car company (Rajasthan Tours) invited our family to share a meal in his family’s home instead.  He lives about 45 minutes away from the city center with his wife and children, and his brother’s family and cousin, all housed under one roof.  When we arrived, I was immediately presented with a big pink birthday cake.  They gave me the honor of cutting slices after singing me “Happy Birthday”.  However, as opposed to doling out those pieces, my host grabbed a utensil and spoon fed me my first bite.  He then proceeded to use the same spoon to feed each guest individually.  This was a new tradition! The cake then disappeared, never to return for the rest of the night. There were about 5 children for Stella and Gabriel to play with, and they were ecstatic. I later learned that they all ate more cake, as I was glad to know. As Diwali was around the corner, the kids were already stockpiling fireworks, and practicing letting some of them off on their own.  This is how we found ourselves separated from a gang of kids playing with matches and mini explosives, while we drank beer and whiskey on a rooftop!  Bad parenting 101, thankfully with no tragedies to report.

All in all, I enjoy experiencing my birthday in foreign places.  So far, I have had the fortune to celebrate it in Prague, Dublin, Hue, La Paz and Reykjavik, not to mention fun North American destinations like, Kauai, Austin, Vancouver, B.C., New York, and probably more cities that I am forgetting.  My children also gifted me with a hand-beaded necklace, made entirely of random beads that they had found all over Petra.  A special memento indeed!

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  • Reply Uncle David December 1, 2015 at 9:04 am

    How breathtaking and memorable. What an opportunity that you two are sharing with the kids and creating many more wonderful memories for your family.

    • Reply Mark Fahey December 1, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Breathtaking photos and verse! A truly diverse experience. Pink cake and whiskey! Sounds like a Pogues song. Glad to hear everything is wonder. Happy continued trails and go Timbers!

  • Reply Abuelo December 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I am truly blown away with the decorative architecture!…It is exquisite. The only other place I have seen like that is the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. But, that is just one place; India, however, is full of them. I can’t thank you enough for showing it to us all.
    Again, Happy Birthday dear Sarah!…when you first came into this world your Mom and I could not believe how lucky we were. Not only that, but you were a very beautiful baby, literally. People would stop us in the streets to comment on your beauty. Luckily for you, at 43 you still have it.
    With love,

  • Reply Mom and Dad December 1, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    This architecture is dizzyingly beautiful. I’m sorry about your mini-disaster. but that, coupled with the other snafus may be the little ways that India is teaching you to Let it Go. What you are accomplishing and the images that dwell with in your memory are far more valuable then all the clothes and IPhones in the world.
    How touching of Stella and Gabriel to give you a handmade bracket. I still treasure the necklace they made for me this summer at Paloma’s .
    From birth I always knew you belonged to the world and your amazing list of birthday celebration sites proves this theory! On November 2nd, I always harken back to when I literally felt as if I were levitating off the bed when your beautiful little self was placed in my arms. You continue to take my breath away. Happy 43rd!!

  • Reply Poppy December 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    What a special way to celebrate your birthday (AND a new tradition to boot!). The architecture is truly amazing and intricate. I loved all of the pictures particularly the ones with you all in them. The photo of the mirror in the hallway of the four of you is especially artistic. we are sad to hear about your oil foil (but such a n ironic necessity to get new clothes) 🙂
    Love to all,
    Poppy (& Grammy)

  • Reply Laurie December 2, 2015 at 6:16 am

    You are proving to one and all how beautiful our world is. If only we could all get along with each other! The architecture is amazing. Each place you go to seems to outdo the one before. I am glad that your birthday was spent being together and doing what you would like. We love all of you so much and pray that you have continued spectacular travels.

  • Reply Julie j December 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Happy birthday sarah! A month behind me in your early mid-40s Sounds like a Devine day

  • Reply Jennifer Reynolds December 4, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Sarah, these photos are amazing! Jantar Mantar is so futuristic, what an interesting place. I love that photo of Stella with that tiny girl on the bench -adorable! It looks like a beautiful country. I hope things are going smoothly after some set backs and you guys are back on the road having the times of your lives. xoxo Jennifer

  • Reply portia January 2, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Happy Birthday!!!! I looooove these pictures!!!!! The peacocks the most….me and Gabriel are both pisces….and I want that Barbie!!!! I haven’t been on your blog in a while since Adelle has been around….so I am sitting on this cold, rainy, first Sat in January catching up….Roey misses his pals and I am remembering our NYE 15 years ago….really????

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