Travel Week: Rajasthan 9th-16th October 2016
Travel week is a 7-day experience of India outside of the MUWCI parameters. My experience was headed up north in the beautiful state of Rajasthan. People had always said that India is too big to be defined or described in one way, that the minute you step into another state it’s like you’re in a different country. The language, the buildings, the animal species. The language commonly spoken in the state of Maharashtra (which is where I live) is Marati and some speak Hindi, however up north they speak various languages but the most common are Marwari but Hindi is the official language. There were lots of ancient buildings, with elaborate and geometric patterns lining the edges of the walls, with the dominant colors being peach, red, gold and white. There were camels, donkeys, monkeys and horses everywhere. Most of the merchants still used horse wagons, something that I’d only seen in movies and had classified as ‘pre-historic’. I was simply fascinated by it all, I felt like I was holding my breath the entire trip.
We stayed in Jaipur but traveled to Ajmer and the village Abhaneri. We stayed in a petite and well-kept hotel called Laxmi Palace Hotel. I had two roommates, Phoebe from Canada and Clara from Sweden. I’m glad for this experience because we bonded over so many things, I just didn’t think it possible because we’re from completely different places but this just showed me how small the world really is. Apart from the bonding, I think that this place really made me step out of my comfort zone. I had to not only work with a group of 15 students so as not to get lost, but I had to speak up, participate and just be present. This might seem like child’s play to anybody else but I’m an introvert. I like my personal space and I enjoy little pleasures like a warm cup of tea and a splendid book to read but everyone wanted to go out in the dead of night and party. I think this trip really built me as a person to stand up for myself. If I didn’t want to go somewhere I’d just pull out my NO card. This epiphany came later in the trip but I reached it eventually and the trip was less stressful after.
We visited Chandi Baori (the oldest step well in Rajasthan), Amber Fort a defense palace made of sandstone and marble by Man Singh in the 16th century; and Pushkar, a town in India, the myth is that a holy deity Gramajee threw a lotus towards the Earth, it rotated around it 7 times then landed in the lake in this town, making Pushkar a very famous pilgrimage site in India; Chokhi Dhani (an amusement park in India, where you can have your palms read, go on elephant rides, buy hand carved items, buy hand woven garments, eat lots of typical Rajasthani foods and really just have a good time); a time museum where we saw how ancient astrologers used the position of the sun through the use of astrolabes and other such huge instruments to tell the time. We also saw how huge marble carved instruments were used for modern-day zodiac sign predictions relative to the position of the stars. The monkey temple built for a monkey deity in which animal species were taken care off; an ancient mosque which wasn’t fun because we saw crippled men on the streets getting beaten by mosque officials; and this beautiful palace that was built for Sher Singh’s second wife, because she couldn’t stand to live with his other wives which really just showed me the power of women even in a time when they were undermined.
Apart from the stalkers who followed us around because they’d never seen such an international group of students, the ripoffs because we weren’t locals, and the loud car honking, the horrific scenes of crippled men being beaten almost to death, I had a really good time. I learned how to handle myself in a new city, and how to meander through with little to no Hindi. I learned about the effectiveness of non-verbal communication through hand gestures and facial expressions. I would do this again and again and again given the chance.