Night Train to Jodhpur

We survive the overnight train ride with minimal hassle. Tired, kya? (are you tired?) Yes, but will get over it. I feel a glint of a short story brewing here…’Night Train to Jodhpur’… overtired, overstimulated brain working overtime and I can’t wait for whatever comes next.

December 23, Jodhpur: We were lucky to only be about an hour late arriving. Tis the nature of travel – maybe everything – in India. And nobody complains. It just is. So the train adventure was enjoyed to the maximum; bumps, stops, starts, a few cockroackes and dueling loudmouths at 3am make the story more interesting. Western toilets, maybe stinkier than the Indian ones. Chai wallah delivers a brilliant wake-up cup (and fills the travel mug upon request!!), ringing in the day on a perfectly acceptable note. The ride to the Haveli is through water-logged side streets, but the tuk tuks magically sprout rudders and sail us through the muck (no, actually, we get splashed and it is what it is).

I almost expect to see royal carriages in the car park and Maharajas or their attendants lounging in this old royal residence-cum-hotel… The Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli is a renovated mansion of old, with the decor and architecture beckoning me back to a time and place long, long ago. The hotel sits in the shadow of the large-looming Merhangarh Fort, a palace to the Maharaja of Jodhpur.

View of Merhangarh Fort from KP Heritage Haveli


Merhangarh Fort…In this land of princely kingdoms, Maharajas and Maharanis, you can feel their presence in the air. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a novel set in and around one of these palaces. Maybe it’s because the 70-100′ high walls are imposing and awe-inspiring; the views breathtaking; and the intricate detail in every room and on every surface either a spectacular testament to a Royal’s ego or a manifestation of their impeccable attention to every last detail. Either way, the views of the Blue City from the top were jaw-dropping.

And to (Sadar Bazaar) market we go… there is the story of the fabric seller who weaves his own tales of fame and high fashion and fortune. The spice merchant who carries on her father’s legacy in the spice business. The samosa maker who should win the nobel prize for street food. Same goes for the lassi walla.

So we travel on into the proverbial pink/blue Jodhpur sunset…air resonating with the distant sounds of the adhan, the call to prayer, tuk tuk beeps, cats, drums and train horns. Genuine thali for dinner (need to check if free refills are included in thali back home!), and I have said at least 3 times today, “I can’t believe I’m really in India.”

India, Day 1

I want to caveat this first… I am not a “tour” person. I like to travel, immerse myself in a culture,  meet local people, see the world through their eyes. India was so massive and daunting to me that for my first go at this place, I felt I needed a guide, and therefore a tour. I signed up for a tour through the most local-friendly company I could find, G Adventures, and embarked on their 15-day Rajasthan Adventure, adding a few days on my own at the end to explore in my own way. Rajasthan is where most of India’s history began, so it felt a fitting place to start…

December 21, 2014: Organized – no, synchronized – chaos.

Arrived in Delhi today… First impressions: smog, traffic, friendly faces, cows, cycle rickshaws, tuk tuks, scooters…all vying for a lane. What lanes? Horns, chaos and I’m in fucking India in the back of a taxi from the airport and breathing it in along with the smog, fog, sounds, smells… this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and it is hitting me in all my senses and from all directions.

Trucks, dressed up to party – tassles hanging and bling blinging. There’s one tall skinny guy standing motionless, like an iceberg or a human minaret, selling roses in the middle of this crazy racing traffic. And the children…there they are on the side of the road, in the dust, prepping his bouquets.

As we drive into Karol Bagh I recognize the overpass, and then the giant Hanuman statue, I’d seen in my Google searches. I feel like I am in the right place, because really where else on the planet could a 108′ Hanuman statue coexist with this chaos?

It’s so much noisier than I ever considered. The road signs are in Hinglish. There’s a alien-yet-familiar smoke-fog in the air. The myriad horns beep greetings and warnings in an alarmingly loud, yet rhythmic, cacophony. This is the score for Delhi’s ‘Synchronised Chaos Symphony #2’ (in Q minor).

My first shower in 2 days feels wonderful. And I think this: Delhi takes no prisoners and shows up 100%.