After my incredible visit with Pratham on Friday, I spent a few hours working at my hotel before heading off to the airport again – destination Jaipur. The flight was very short, and before I know it I’m collecting my bag and heading out into a new city. I immediately spot my ride holding a sign with my name. I can tell instantly he’s a kind man and I can relax knowing I am once again in good hands.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, and the ride to the hotel takes about 30 minutes in traffic on this hot Friday evening. I arrive at the Meghniwas hotel, run by the aunt and uncle of SeeYourImpact CEO Digvijay, and these two wonderful people greet me warmly. For the first time on my trip, I feel at ease in my surroundings and I enjoy a lovely late dinner in their company. A good night’s sleep is more than necessary at this point, and I happily retired to my room for some peace and quiet after a long day.
I wake up Saturday morning and get ready to head out once again. This time for some sightseeing around the capital city and then a longer three-hour car ride to the rural town of Pushkar. The drive through the old city of Jaipur is stunning – the buildings are all red in color and the streets are bustling with activity and craftsmanship. Somehow, this country is starting to make sense. A small old man sits on a flatbed cart, his skin darkened by years in the sun is contrasted sharply by his white beard. He’s holding the reins of an enormous camel that easily pulls him down the road – his chin held high; stride slow and consistent.
We make our way up the windy hill to the Amber Fort. I’m completely overwhelmed by it’s size and beauty, I had no idea it was such an incredible monument. I spend some time walking through the fort and thinking about all the history that has taken place here. Afterwards, I also stop to see the city palace and conservatory – both very impressive sights!
While I thoroughly enjoyed this short tour of Jaipur, sightseeing the tourist spots is really not my favorite thing to do. I was excited for the next journey of the day – the trip to Pushkar and the hotel/farm of Digvijay’s cousin, Uday.
The three-hour drive to Pushkar was not always smooth, but it certainly provided a new look at rural India. We finally pulled up to Pushkar, a slightly larger town built around a holy lake. I got out of the car to take a walk through the streets before heading to the hotel. I was led by a group of men down to the holy lake to repeat some prayers for my family to the God Brahma – a clear tourist trap but I went along for the ride and found the whole escapade fascinating. The town was bustling, charming and full of shops and people at work.
We finally pulled up to the farm/hotel under construction and was greeted with a big hug from Uday. He was kind, welcoming and full of interesting topics of conversation. Before it got dark, he showed me around his farm, introduced me to the horses, and talked to me about how all of the food is grown and cooked on the farm. This is my kind of place!
My room is a “tent” – a fancy one at that. It has a foundation built into it with a nice bathroom and lovely little bed. I feel right at home in the countryside. Right outside the tents is a pool and little sitting area where we join together for dinner. Two other women are also here – one who is friends with Uday and another who just happens to be here for the evening. Both are wonderful and full of energy, and we sit to converse over delicious homemade Indian food and wine until late in the evening.
Up at dawn, I meet with Uday and Gabby and the four dogs to go for a hike up the nearby mountain to the Brahma temple. The dogs are amazing: Lucky the German Shepard, Angel the Yellow Lab, Dobie the Doberman and the Black Lab puppy. All are the most intelligent, kind, healthy and well-behaved dogs I’ve ever been around. They bound up the mountain ahead of us to chase monkeys, while we make our way up the steep stairs. It’s a beautiful morning and being up above all else makes everything seem so peaceful.
Back on the farm, we jump in the pool to clean off and are served an incredible breakfast. An egg fresh from the farm is fried on top of a piece of bread toasted over an open fire with homemade butter and chutney on top. This might be the single most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. More food keeps coming – homemade yogurt with some type of grain, fresh bananas, fresh juice, more toast, jam and chai tea. I’m so full, but the food is so fresh that I feel good.
We sit around chatting and playing with the dogs nearly until it’s time to eat again. It feels very good to relax and be in good company. I pack up and enjoy one more meal with these wonderful people, and then take off back to Jaipur, back to the airport and back to Delhi.