Travelling out of the deserts of Mandawa and into the city of Jaipur, the capital of Ragasthan, the main tour attractions were the Amber Fort and City Palace. However, my personal stand-outs were the street snake charmer’s and the Jantar Mantar Observatory.
Snake charmers – OMG. Just like in the movies. As the charmer plays his pungi (name of the musical instrument) and the cobra slowly and hypnotically rises out of the basket, I involuntarily start backing up blindly into the crowd behind me, stepping on toes, my body turned to run but my head mesmerised by the charmer and his snake. To be fair, I was more charmed than the snake, who kept on striking its master, but hitting the body of the instrument.
It’s amusing to think that these snake charmers had been sent into the Commonwealth Games village in Delhi to clear out all the snakes. Can you imagine? – ‘ There are snakes in the athletes village, I repeat snakes!(talking on the other line) Affirmative. Send in the Snake Charmers’
The Observatory – Awesome. I have never been so enthralled with sundials in my life. In fact, I have never had the slightest interest in sundials in my life, but this was IMPRESSIVE. The Jantar Mantar is a stone observatory created by an indian astronomer King in the 18th Century to measure everything from altitude to time and also map the movements of the planets and the stars. It hosts the largest sundial in the world and it was because of astronomy that the town of Jaipur got into gems (birthstones) with its streets littered with crafts and jewellery merchants.
Local Jaipur tour guide – ‘You can tell everything from the stars and planets and only when you meet the right person who can read will you believe’
T, skeptical but highly interested – ‘And do you happen to know the right person?’
The tour guide ignores the interruption and continues with his prepared speech on the observatory. I let it slide, figuring the right person would have most likely been his cousin, uncle or brother, but it was then I knew I just had to get my palm read in India.