Pre-wedding ceremony, Jaipur

Arriving in Jaipur after a wonderful time in Bundi was overwhelming! This pink and orange city thrives on an energy I’d not yet come across until now and I knew there would some interesting experiences coming my way!  I was not disappointed! Staying with Devena and her wonderful family, at Jaipur Art Inn, I was invited into their Indian life for some special moments that will be treasured forever. I believe homestays can be the only way to truly grasp the life of local people when time is of essence, and Devena did her utmost to share as much as she could.  This kind of sharing is what I believe keeps India warm; as a European who feels a sense of communal loss in Europe’s transformation over recent decades, I relished the opportunities to be a human invited to share the rituals that we all need to live and breathe.

One of these occasions gave me a wonderful insight to the Indian pre-wedding ceremonies. As someone attending, with no experience of the ceremony’s etiquette, I did my best to observe without intruding on the families in attendance. I was amazed by the colour around me and the overall tranquility of the ceremony.

Lake, Jaipur

The observatory of Jaipur is quite a sight. These monumental instruments tell us much about our skies, from the time of day to the planetary and astrological alignments. My guide explained all the technical details, making sure I could read the time using the sundial’s shadows and etched lines, and explained the complex instrument showing the stars of Sagittarius in dominance this time of year. I loved this park! I found the instrument for Aquarius, my sign, and wondered how the shadows would be cast upon it in late January 2013. I would have liked to see that, but alas…

Observatory’s astrological instruments (forefront: Gemini on left, Aquarius on right), Jaipur

Clocks at the Observatory, Jaipur

View from Jaipur fort

Palace of mirrors (more Belgian glass!), Jaipur

Living quarters for the King’s wives, Jaipur

Garden with a view, Jaipur

The elephants of Jaipur’s palace only work 3 ’rounds’ before they retire for the day (so my guide tells me). I personally don’t like to ride animals, except horses, but I understand that Indian tourists love to ride elephants and camels so there will always be plenty of work for them!

Elephants on their shift, Jaipur

Elephants finish their shift at the palace, Jaipur

Lovable Daisy at Jaipur Art Inn, a sketch 2012

Street and fountain, Jaipur

Park sculpture, Jaipur

Bird at the lake, Jaipur

The matching of potential marriage partners in India is a very serious business. Depending on the investment made by the individual families to seek an excellent match, the planetary alignment at one’s time of birth is pretty critical for the prospective ‘profiling’. When two profiles are mapped together there is a useful point system to evaluate just how successful that match may be. I was informed that a minimum score of 50% is necessary for initial consideration, and obviously higher the score, happier the marriage… so we hope!

I had a planetary profile written when I was 14 years old. To this day, it has been exact in every detail and forecast although I am yet to get married and have children, which is supposedly part of my destiny and good for me… As my life unfolds, I do ask if this is pre-defined destiny at play? Is it Fate? Or Karmic deliverance? Who can ever tell what we truly deserve and don’t! I suppose that by at least understanding my astrological Zodiac and Chinese signs then I may be doing OK!

Advertising astrology, Jaipur

Coffee culture doesn’t really have a place in India – maybe the hot Chai tea is just too good!! But, having ventured into a few of these coffee houses I realise that Indians want to experiment and see what all the fuss is about when wrapping coffee in this overly commercial manner. These cafes are not thriving little places like one finds in Europe, but the coffee was good and so was the chocolate cake…

A lot can happen over coffee, Jaipur

If there is one thing I would wish for in India it would be a rubbish collection and recycling service for everyone. The hogs and other animals do their best but they cannot keep up!

Hogs working hard to keep the streets clean, Jaipur

Hogs working hard to keep the streets clean, Jaipur

High street, Jaipur

Monkeys of Jaipur, a sketch 2012

Agra may be short of aggravating! This city didn’t welcome me at all, and I have a feeling it is either tired of tourism and/or hasn’t fairly shared its Taj Mahal ticket money with the locals. Whatever the reason, I was glad to stay only for the day and head onto New Delhi through the night. Many Indian tourists at the Taj Mahal asked me to pose and smile for their photos (don’t ask me why!) but after a while I started to feel like a starlet leaving rehab under the paparazzi bulbs! Maybe I missed something here, but I’ll never know.

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Well, circa Agra

Well, circa Agra

Originally published: Sunday, January 20th, 2013 at 17:07 in Living matter, Monologues

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