Thursday, June 15, 2017

To Jaipur.

At Jaipur Airport waiting for Rohit and Ritu to come pick us up.

The alarm on my phone went woof at 6:15a. I barely slept three hours last night. I think I finally dozed off shortly before 2a and pretty much woke up at 4:20. I was still feeling exhausted by the time the alarm went off. I peeked into Chantale's room and she was already awake. Apparently, she had been up since 2a dealing with an issue related to her daughter's schooling. We're both going to be dead tired tonight and I hope we can finally get a good night's sleep to quickly get over jet lag.

Breakfast was a simple affair. What do you expect for a cheap airport hotel" I ended up filling myself with some potato curry and parathas. Quite tasty actually - I had 3 servings. A cup of black tea with sugar was my drink. On the other hand, Chantale didn't look too thrilled at the food.  Can't blame her.  She didn't have much to eat but she says she's not a big eater so we'll see.  Hopefully, she has enough in her belly to last til lunch!

By the time we made it down to the reception desk our taxi had already arrived. In no time, us and our luggage were back on the road to the airport. We passed through security at the entrance and then got checked in at the IndiGo counter for our 9:30a flight to Jaipur. IndiGo had made online checking available about a week ago but I was flagged as "WATCH queue" which I figured meant we had to check in at the counter. Apparently, it was because I had paid with a. Non Indian credit card. There was no issue with check in. The only hold up at the security check. Body scanning is done manually and there are separate lines for men and women as women are scanned behind a curtain for privacy. Chantale went first and was immediately told she needed her boarding pass so we both had to head back to where our luggage was being scanned to retrieve our passes. After that, it was a smooth pass through. IndiGo did inform us that the airport is a no boarding announcement airport - I've never been in one like that before so we had to pay careful attention to time so we would board accordingly. It was an easy 35 minute flight to Jaipur.

Chantale's acquaintances - Rohit and Ritu, a husband and wife whose son attends the same university as Chantale's daughter came to the airport to pick us up and bring us to our Airbnb apartment which is owned by a famous Indian sculptor - Akit (?) Patel.   The couple drove up in a very large, black SUV which you know in India costs the earth the own.  It was immediately obvious that they are very well to do.  When we were waiting for them to arrive, I asked Chantale, how I would spot them and she told me that Ritu is very beautiful.  Not helpful but indeed when Ritu stepped out of the car, she was indeed a very elegant presence.  By profession, Rohit is an editor for a leading Indian news publication and she is an architect.  The son is also studying architecture....following in his proud mother's footsteps.

On the way to the apartment, they gave us a quick driving tour of the city.  My first impression is that it's a much smaller city than Delhi - not as crowded with either people or cars.  I didn't notice as many cows either though this place is the city of tuk-tuks.....they are everywhere!

It wasn't easy finding the apartment.  Rohit did have to ask for help but even eventually we found the small alleyway that it's located on.   India may be 1.3+ billion people but it can also be a very small world - turns out that Rohit once interviewed Akit and knows his wife quite well.   I later Googled Akit Patel and his first name is actually Ankit....not Akit. They immediately recognized each other when they met. Mrs. Patel greeted us into her home and treated us to glasses of watermelon juice. In the meantime, the apartment manager and his helper took our suitcases and belongings to the apartment which is located right across the street from where the elder Patels live.

Rohit and Ritu then took Chantale to the nearest telecom store so she could buy her SIM card. I hung back in the apartment which is a very lovely space and really nice except for the fact that it's stifling hot in the front room aka living room as only the bedroom is air conditioned. I hope that my body will quickly adjust to the heat of Jaipur.

By the time Chantale made it back to the apartment is almost 2:30p.  She did manage to get her SIM card but not without a bit of adventure which included poor Rohit dinging up his car that was not even a year old.  Apparently, he hit a small concrete pylon when he was parking the car. Nothing major but still.   In any case, the three of them had already that we would get together for dinner two nights from now - our last night in Jaipur.

Chantale took a short break and we chatted about what to do for the rest of the day.  I know we were both exhausted from jetlag and no sleep last night but adrenaline was pushing us forward.  Since we only had a few hours before nightfall, I suggested we go with our plan to head for City Palace.

So excited to be finally be seeing Jaipur!