We were up early Saturday morning. We put our luggage in the hall at 5:30 and went for breakfast. We were scheduled to leave the hotel at 6:15 and to depart for the airport at 6:30. We did surprisingly well. We left for the airport at 6:35. I checked. The check in at the airport went fast. There were every few people there at that early hour and it was a small airport We arrived in Jaipur at 9:36 and by 10:00 we were on the way to the hotel, Taj Jai Mahal Palace Hotel. Another Taj hotel.
It had been a drizzly morning out of Udaipur and the rain continued in Jaipur. I skipped the afternoon excursion to the palace choosing to rest in the hotel instead. I regret that decision because I missed an opportunity to experience the old city market place. I have found that whenever I visit a city, I enjoy being in the old city -- being among the ordinary people living their regular ordinary lives. I am coming to realize and to own that I can feel the spirit or maybe it’s the soul of the people. Perhaps it’s both the spirit and the soul. Not sure.
In Jaipur, I missed the juicy flow of human passion; I missed the heartbeat of the people. I love people watching or people experiencing. It’s as if I can hear their souls speaking to me. I don’t mean that I want to sit and talk to this specific person or that one, however I do come alive with I can observe and feel and connect with the people in general from a distance and then with a particular person also from a distance. I observe and I listen not to words but to their voice. It is as if their voice and their soul speak to me and they tell me their story. It’s somewhat akin to when I work with crystals, but yet it’s different. I can’t explain it; I can only experience it. Now I am coming to own it and I realize that that’s what I want to write about. I don’t know how to do that yet, but I can feel it: I want to write about the soul of a people through writing about the soul and the voice of a person. I want to write about the soul of the land.
I am finding that voice and that soul so present, so alive, here in India and also so absent or beyond my touch here in India. It’s a paradox and it’s fascinating.
Jaipur, like Mumbai, didn’t speak to me. On Sunday we went to the Amber Fort situated atop hills of the foothills leading to mountains beyond. We rode elephants up the switchback roads to the actual fort/palace. That was fun, but it was tainted by the rush of tourists and by the not so subtle demand for tips. Maybe the drizzly weather also dampened my experience, but I was eager to leave Jaipur. We did that on Monday.
We drove eight hours to Agra. Along the way we stopped for to visit Fatehpur Sikri, a World Heritage Site and now an abandoned palace-fort city. Once there were more than 1500 people living in Fatehpr Sikri. This was a mystical place. Abandoned, empty, yet it was so rich and so alive. Again, I can’t find words but as I walked across the vast sandstone courtyards to the Treasury and to the King’s Chamber and the tiny Queen’s Chamber, I could feel the lost passions of a people whose lives changed because of the lack of water. There were very few visitors on Monday, yet as I stepped away for the others members of our group and as I walked alone, I felt I was not alone. I felt the joy that was once there. I felt the peace. As I looked around at the stillness, I also felt the beauty that once thrived here. I also felt the pain of loss. We moved on to Agra arriving after dark.