The family travelled by road to Jaipur on the weekend, for a long weekend. Jaipur is a city known globally for hosting the Jaipur literary festival, which took place a couple of weeks before our visit.
It’s famous also as the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan, known for its history as the location of numerous small ‘kingdoms’, and for its deserts.
We didn’t see the deserts, though from a hilltop overlooking the city, several patches of sand dune could be seen encroaching into the city fringes.
But what really hit us, as it does I’m sure hit anyone who’s contemplating any kind of extended period in India, is how crappy the place is. The air pollution is awful, really awful. Really really awful. The public city of Jaipur is a complete and utter mess, except within a few well defined areas operating to service tourists. Streets are awash with garbage, shit, animals, street people, regular people, trolleys, bikes, motorbikes, cars, buses, construction sites, people conducting all manner of business, all making cacophonous amounts of noise, and competing for exactly the same space.
|At work, 7am. Sander's first photo|
The quality of private services is equally inconsistent. Undoubtedly, some of Jaipur’s restaurants and cafes exhibit considerable craft and some pride in its delivery, but many others don’t. And the hotel we stayed in has taken all the fun out of decadent. Some rich mini-king’s city residence, turned into a money spinner, with little concern for quality or customer satisfaction, instead trading on past glories tacked onto painted walls. By the time we returned from two nights in what was supposed to be a classic Indian guesthouse (and perhaps it was), everyone was so sleep-deprived.
How bad is the air pollution? Here in Delhi, the boys were taking flash photographs, at night, with black behind. The air pollution is so thick that the light reflecting off their faces created a halo around their heads. That thick. That’s what we live and breathe.
|Denzel on the streets of Jaipur, 7am|
|Doesn't look so bad from up here|