hitching rides in the land of kings
so it turns out that hitchhiking in India is not that easy…
i started out my journey taking the overnight sleeper class train from jaisalmar to jaipur and arrived at 6am. so by that time i was already shattered. I had to waste about 3 hours until my first meeting with a shop owner (i’ll call Um) who I had met the previous week while browsing shops in the bazaar, so I headed down to the clock tower to get a makhania lassi (saffron lassi) – way better than the first time i had it – this time it was almost ice cold.
Anyway at 9am in the morning, I met up with Um in Katla Bazaar so that he could take me to his factory to show me how they make the picture frames and wooden boxes, etc. Me, my big backpack between us, and my smaller backpack on my shoulder, jump on to the back of Um’s moped. Before leaving though, he put on a helmet – I asked him for one and he told me ‘Don’t worry, no need’ – then why you wearing one?? after realizing that i wasn’t going to get a helmet, I half reluctantly agreed to just hold the metal bar on the back of the mopen as we zipped through Jodphur streets which have got to be the most congested, the most narrow, and the most winding roads in Rajasthan, with goats, cows, rickshaws, and people all jumping in front each other. Finally after about 30 minutes we make it to his factory which is a converted house on the outskirts of Jodphur – actually pretty impressive. Next he decides to take me to his friend’s factory which is about 10 km outside of town which we have to get to by going on the highway (an indian highway…) – I wish I had a picture, but I was way too freaked out to think about it at the time. After checking this factory out, Um pointed out where I could get a bus to get me towards Udaipur – my goal for the day – but after he left me at the stand, I decided to try hitching a ride instead.
Man, it was like 40C out and I must have waited around for about an 30 minutes. Cars would slow down, realize that I was a tourist, wave me off and zoom away. Local Indians were having no problems getting a ride though. So i befriended a local village guy who spoke some super fast Rajasthani Hindi dialect and wouldn’t stop talking even though I had no clue what he was saying half the time. Somehow he understood what was asking and he waved a car down – hence how I met Ram Kamran – my first hitching ride in India – he agreed to take me a couple of hours until we got to Pali.
The trip down to Pali was interesting, with me speaking English and broken Hindi and Kamran speaking Hindi and broken English. He was 21 years old and along with his brothers runs a milk shipping company from Delhi to various cities in Rajasthan. He was way too intrigued by the fact that I wasn’t married and that i had no kids… but luckily this guy didn’t have any sisters to try and pawn off to me.
About 2 hours later, we reached Pali. This was the first non-tourist city I’d been to in Rajasthan so I figured I spend a bit of time and eat lunch. Maybe a mistake! They’re not used to tourists here so the food was crazy hot! plus everyone was staring (not in a scary way or anything) because they were facinated by this brown guy with a big huge backpack roaming around the streets. Definitely worth the stop just to see these guys… check the florescent pink turbans!
Next leg: a local bus to Sadri – no idea what was in that town. As soon as I got there, i hopped in a local car pool service to take me Rannekpur which was 8 km away. I got there at 6pm – officially, people are not llowed to visit after 5pm, but after blagging a bit and throwing around a bit of Hindi, they let me in. They wouldn’t let me take any pics inside though, which sucks because Rannekpur has got to be the most incredible temple i’ve seen. the entire place is made of marble and has 1440 pillars – and since it was open air and I was the only person walking through the place, i think I’d rank this place higher than the Taj. I’ve got a small pic with my camera phone which I’ll try to upload some time.
Other than the temples, there is almost nothing in ranekpur but a couple of food stands and bus stop – so at 7:30 i hopped on the last bus out of city and headed out towards udaipur – finally made it here at 10pm last night and for a total cost of only 120 rupees = pretty much the same as everyone else who went direct by bus, but i had a hell of a crazier adventure! This was probably one of the best days i’ve had so far.