Jaipur, the “Pink City,” is painted pink because the Raj thought it was a cheerful color. The old palace we visited had tiny panes of stained glass in the windows. It was the women’s quarters and there were little shutters that they could open to look down on the city street.
This city reminds me a little bit of Italy because there are old buildings and covered marketplace streets. All around Rajasthan are hills with abandoned fortresses like the hill towns of Umbria. The fortress is at the top of the hill and the city spreading out all around it.
The room we are staying in is really beautiful and has paintings on the ceilings. The walls are pink and every window has a fancy archway. I love how cool and quiet it is inside. It’s a perfect temperature relief after being outside for the morning.
You can’t stay inside all day so people wear special clothes like saris or kurtis made of light cotton and silks to keep as cool as possible. The clothes cover most of you skin, which protects you from the sun. They are really comfortable, and best of all they are colorful! The ladies look like flowers in a garden.
On our first day in Mumbai, we went clothes shopping. The clothes store was like a gigantic library of jewel-toned sparkly outfits. There weren’t any displays of things. We sat down at a counter and a man pulled out dress after dress and put them on the counter. It got to be a really big pile. Then we said no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, yes going through the whole pile. We did this a really long time (like over an hour) and then I tried them on. The clothes didn’t even have to fit just right because the man said that they would tailor anything for me. We settled on 7 outfits and then we had to talk about prices. It was too expensive to get them all so I had to choose only a couple things. It was really hard to choose—like when you have to pick only one treat at the bakery when you want lots of treats but can have only one. It was fun shopping but pretty overwhelming because there was just so much of everything.
The mahouts (elephant handlers) wore brightly colored turbans. Lots of people were selling touristy stuff like turbans and sun umbrellas and statues We ended up getting an umbrella because it will be great for costumes. When it was our turn to ride it was really bumpy like a boat rocking. The mahout kicked the elephant to go faster and it trotted but I didn’t like it because it was really uncomfortable. We got stuck in an elephant traffic jam.
The Taj Mahal seemed different than all the other experiences we’ve had here so far. It was white unlike like the color everywhere, and it was predictable and smooth, not chaotic. From a distance the building is white, but when you actually are close, you can see its covered in script and flowery designs. It seems like it would be a beautiful holy place, like a cathedral in Italy, but then you get inside and everyone is shouting and there is a guy with a whistle to make you move along from the viewing platform. The guy must think he’s a car with a horn (people are incessantly honking their horns here.)
The air was cool inside and it was a little dark to show respect for the dead. It is the same size as Ankor Wat but way cooler because it’s so mathematical and harmonious. I love making things symmetrical and so it was a perfect building for me.