Jodhpur, 26-27 September
We were flying too close to the sun over the past two weeks in Rajasthan and India came back to punish us for it. After the not so pretty Agra, our hotel in Jaipur was an absolute steal, we felt relaxed and at home in the small town of Bundi and then came Udaipur, easily our favourite painted city. But when we drive into Jodhpur, the Blue City, in the dark, it feels like we’re back to square one.
Who ever wrote that India is an attack on the senses must have spent some time in Jodhpur. The traffic is insane again, with bad roads and worse drivers producing deafening noise while competing for business. The occasional whiff of incense offers only temporary relief from the nauseating smell of rotten garbage found everywhere by the side of the roads. If you can tell a city by how it treats its animals I would suggest skipping Jodhpur. In Udaipur we’ve seen dogs get their eyes cleaned, get fed and injected, here, seeing all the sick and miserable dogs is gut-wrenching. This city has a bit of an edge to it.
After a hectic drive through Jodhpur town centre, our check in at the hotel is quickly dealt with and we end the day having a beer on the rooftop terrace. We’re joined by the grandad of the guesthouse and his drinking buddies: a gang of old boys with a serious thirst for whiskey. When his friends have gone, grandad decides to relieve his bladder in the sink at the back of the terrace partly behind the fridge, the perfect excuse for us to contemplate the views we get of Jodhpur city and its Mehrangarh Fort, lit up beautifully at night.
The next day we take it easy with a much needed long lie in. We have breakfast at lunchtime by the clock tower, before meeting our travel companions for dinner and drinks.
The food at Cafe Blue Bird is pretty good. Almost all the Rajasthani food has been delicious, but since Udaipur we’ve felt a bit sick after eating a Rogan Josh and a Lal Maas containing goat meat, so we’re back to eating vegetarian only. The dish I have is called Aloo Gobhi Adraki, which is a potato and cauliflower curry, and Lauren likes everything with paneer, Indian cheese, which is like a solid cottage cheese. When the owner finds out Lauren is Scottish he pours us a pretty lethal dose of Indian whiskey, which leaves us staggering back to the guest house through the city’s small alleyways at the end of the night.
In the morning Lauren’s stomach is feeling worse for wear. As we’ve got some sorting out to do for our upcoming train journeys to Pushkar and Delhi we spend most of the day in the hotel to recover a bit from our first two months on the road. We return to Cafe Royale for lunch where we end up talking the afternoon away with the owners and their son, who used to live in Berchem next to Antwerp for five years, about the meaning of life, plastic reduction and the so called King of Kidneys, an Indian surgeon who illegally removed and sold over 600 kidneys from his patients and had an indoor swimming pool built in the shape of a kidney! A gentle reminder to try not and get hurt while abroad because with enough money anyone can buy a medical degree in India.
Although we didn’t make it to any of the sights, I feel our time in Jodhpur was still of value. It may not be a clean or even a pleasant city, but we’ve met some really nice people! There’s one final stop coming up for us in Pushkar, before we head back to Delhi and fly to China. Farewell to the last of Rajasthan’s painted cities.