Jaipur

North India

India's north differs from South India to a similar extend as this is the case in Europe. Opposite to the greenery and the many temples in the south, the landscape in the north is hilly and dry. Surely, there are irrigated wheat acres, but the hills are dry and sandy.

Most of them are somehow fortified either with walls or forts on the top. Rajasthan is the country of forts, palaces, Maharadjas, turbans, and camels. Many of the former palaces all over Rajasthan are reconstructed and accommodating luxury hotels nowadays. Visa preferred.

Door of City Palace
Door of City Palace

Pink City

Jaipur is called "Pink City". "Pink" is a bit exagerated, the only really pink objects in Jaipur are public buses. The old town is built of orange sandstone and emanates an atmosphere like in tales of the "Arabian Night".

The Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal) is classified by a couragous sign at the entrance as a "world famous monument". No doubt, it is a beautiful building - not less but not more. The Palace of Winds actually consists mainly of its facade with its many oriels. The only purpose of this building was to allow the court ladies to have a look into the streets. Behind the facade are simply staircases and several bedrooms.

Close to the Palace of Winds is the City Palace. Some parts of the palace are still inhabited by the Maharadja of Jaipur. In former times, Maharadjas have been the rulers of North India, during British governance they have been given a semi-independent status - they were allowed to remain head of their kingdoms on the condition to co-operate with the British. That led to a very excessive and dissipating life-style. Nowadays, Maharadjas have just representative power.

Other parts of the palace are accommodating museums (clothes and dresses, decorated sedans, swords with velvet handle and integrated handgun). Two huge containers are catching the eye: these bottle-shaped containers are made of pure silver. Each of them weighs more than 900kg. The Maharadja went to England in 1922 - as a believing Hindu he needed holy water out of the river Ganges. The only way out must have been forging these containers.

Rajasthani
Rajasthani

Bollywood

Indian movies are actually worth a separate chapter. Although there are also genuine art films (Calcutta), most of the Hindi movies are telling quite easy stories. Even if one does not understand Hindi, it is possible to follow the plot to some extent.

The stories mostly consist of two beautiful main actors - male and female. Of course, he fells in love with her - but the parents are against. Once he has convinced the parents, she gets kidnapped by a dangerous bad guy. And not enough: of course, there are corrupt police officers who are not willing to catch the bandid. So the fiance has to free his love on his own. Spectacular frays, gun shots, and drama.Interrupted only by the notorious dancing scenes, giving three kinds of artists the opportunity of making a cultural contribution: a song writer, a singer, and an actor.

The most famous cinema of Jaipur, even of Rajasthan, is the "Raj Mandir". Its lounge looks like an old theatre and there are opening and closing curtains in the hall. We enjoyed the spectacle of "Khauff", a love-and-action "thriller", playing in Bombay.

Hospital

If you are in Jaipur and in the same time in the awkward situation of needing urgent medical treatment (like we did) - go to the big "Sawai Mansingh Hospital" south of the "Albert Hall". Although they do not have English signs, there are people able to help you.

First go to the information counter and find out that you require a registration card (white for foreigners, pink for Indians), available at counter 2 for 3Rs. What next? First things first. Then go back to the information counter to find out that blood tests are conducted in room 14. Watch out for the biggest crowd, that will be room 14.

Inside, get the information that you require a sterile 0.2mm needle. Run around to find the medical store - and be lucky if one of the shop keepers allows you to bypass the queue (or better: the bunch of people) via the backdoor.

Then go back to room 14. The blood test will be conducted right now. Please go with the results to one of the attending doctors. The best doctor is sitting behind the biggest crowd of course. Do not be shy, fight your way through. Get identified as Germans and six highly concentrated students of medicine around you, checking your health, asking serious questions.

Finally the professor comes over to the couch. "No, it's not malaria. Just a intense stomach infection. Take the tablets against the fever and you'll be ok by tomorrow evening." - "Thank you Doctor, thank you so much!". The fever went off, the stomach was still revolting.