I was sad to leave Delhi but at least I knew I’d be returning.

First one last Masala Dosa…

We departed Delhi on the day before Election Day.

Here’s a few interesting tidbits about Indian elections. First, liquor is not allowed to be sold for the two days before an election – so people will be clear-headed when they vote. It’s good in theory but I know for myself, I have a liquor cabinet full enough to inebriate most of my neighborhood. Second, elections are held on Saturdays, because guess what, they want to make it easier for people to vote, and as we know, most people don’t work on Saturdays.

Of course there are many reasons why the first Tuesday was originally chosen for Election Day in the U.S. but those reasons are no longer valid. It would be a no-brainer to move elections to Saturday but I tell you, it will never happen, at least not in my lifetime. There are two reasons why. Firstly, most of the people who are unable/unlikely to vote on a Tuesday (people who do not get paid-time-off) tend to vote Democratic. Secondly, municipalities are not going to want to spend even more money on elections than they already are. And since most municipalities are open Monday through Friday it would mean extra hours and possibly even overtime.

Last, and definitely not least, the results of the election are not known for THREE days, until Tuesday! I can’t imagine. In the U.S. it’s gotten so bad the media is predicting winners before the polls are even closed (which I hate SO much – it makes me absolutely CRAZY.) I certainly wouldn’t want to have to wait days to find out who the winners are in an election but it would be nice if the media weren’t allowed to discuss the election results on the air. I believe that is the law in the U.K. There is no way that it can’t be having some effect on results, either people don’t bother voting because they think it doesn’t matter or people vote for candidates who are furthest ahead. But I digress, again…

Departed from DEL – Indira Gandhi International Airport. Like so many airports, there was some amazing art pieces if you take the time to look.

Sun salutation

I flew business class, which is the only real option for a person of my size. The man in the row across from me must have been a famous actor or athlete because two guys came and asked if they could have their photos taken with him. He seemed resigned and obiged.

Jodhpur is located in Thar Desert in the northwest state of Rajasthan. It is called the ‘Blue City’ for the houses that are painted blue in the old area of the city and also ‘Sun City’ because it remains sunny year round (the houses are painted blue to keep cool.)

Upon arrival we were greeted by a huge procession and a band! Okay, it wasn’t for us, but it was spectacular to see nevertheless.

The streets were too narrow for us to get to the hotel on our bus. (Our bus driver Suki had driven the bus overnight from Delhi, I think Regine said it took him about 12 hours of driving, compared to our flight which only took an hour and a half!)

Time for the TUK TUKs! Tuk Tuks are auto-rickshaws, they are called other things in other countries, for example, when we saw them in Cuba they called them CoCoTaxis and in Thailand (and in some parts of India) they call them PuttPutts.

Not particularly easy for a big girl to get in and out of but I managed.

The hotel – RAAS – was incredible. It’s located in the heart of Jodhpur and has a breathtaking view of the Mehrangahr Fort.

Unfortunately the people staying in the room that I was supposed to have decided to stay on, and I ended up in a room that was a bit of a challenge for me to get to. One thing that I will say about India, they aren’t very concerned about accessibility. They really can’t be I suppose. BUT the people here are spectacularly accommodating and are always willing to help as much as possible (usually.)

This was the stairway to my room. It wouldn’t have been a problem if there had been ANYTHING to hold onto! The person across from me also has mobility issues so the two of us had to call the front desk for assistance every time we needed to go anywhere. They were always willing to come and get us though. Very nice staff.

We got to go to Maharani Textiles & Handcrafts, which is AMAZING! You make you’re way down beneath the streets of Jodhpur to find that there are about 40 enormous rooms filled with bolts of fabric to the ceiling.

This fabric house makes scarves, bed covers, shawls, etc. for some of the most famous fashion houses in the world – such as Miu Miu, Prada, Kenzo, and Armani. Absolutely gorgeous!
Padam Jain, 5th generation owner of Maharani Textiles & Handcrafts
Okay, I did feel badly that these guys had to fold all the scarves back up after we went through all of them but our tour guide reminded me about something we had discussed earlier – the one thing that India has plenty of is manpower and Indians do not mind doing work like this.

We returned to the hotel and dined al fresco with this view.

Fortunately, my tour guides pushed to get me moved to a different room the second evening. Which turned out to be was even bigger relief than I had realized. My original room had stairs leading to a rooftop gazebo, which sounds great, but I think it had an opening straight to the outdoors. I could hear dogs barking all night, and LOUDLY, even with the ear plugs in that were provided.

I know that it’s always smart to travel with ear plugs but I never do because I find them more uncomfortable than dealing with the noise. Usually if I have a noise issue, I’d rather put a pillow over my head but travel tip – GET A GOOD PAIR OF EAR PLUGS if you‘re going to India! You will need them.

In Jodhpur, being in the middle of the city, there was the traffic, there were the animals, but there was also the mosque that was right next door. The hotel left the following message for guests…

And let me tell you, the brief azan lasted way more than 50 seconds. And when they did the Friday azan (which also happened on Saturday evening,) it lasted closer to an hour and a half! I have an issue with this, an azan is only supposed to be a call to prayer, it’s not supposed to be full out proselytizing.

Quinoa porridge is one of my new favorite things. I need to learn to make it. Also, masala eggs.
Waiting by the pool while they prepare my new room.
Definitely my favorite room so far, comfort-wise.
I had my own private terrace.
And the best bathroom!!!

While everyone else went for a tour of the fort (which was going to entail a lot more step climbing) I stayed back. Frankly, I was tired and needed a little break. We had been going like gangbusters for days and I was not going to make it 3-1/2 weeks if I didn’t pace myself (there are only three of the seven of us who are going on both tours.)

Besides, this place was beautiful and it had a SPA! Time for a little pampering.

That evening we had another dinner with the same magnificent view. I slept like a log (or I heard someone say, slept like a bear today, I thought that was a good analogy.) It was much quieter in my ground floor room. I would give up a room with a view for a quiet room any day. Besides, the entire place is a view!

Then, once more, TukTuks to the bus. This time it was a blue TukTuk as we left the Blue City.

Here’s Rohit, our guide on the left. The young man next to him was so sweet, I am going to send in a review and tell them that he was extremely helpful and how much I appreciate all he did. I can’t remember who the third man is. The woman on the right is Regine, who arranged the entire tour, both tours.

Just a few photos on the way to the Jain Temple.

Sign at the rest stop – cracked me up.

The Jain Temple in Ranakpur was absolutely incredible. Built in the 15th century, it is one of the five most holy places of the Jain faith. I will add more here when I have time…

February is a very popular time to get married in India and we saw a few new brides at some of the places we visited. Newly married women are easy to spot, they are decked out in gorgeous saris with lots of jewelry.
The happy couple was kind enough to let us take photos.
This young boy really wanted his photo taken.

We stopped at Mountbatten Lodge for lunch. The food was amazing. I would really love the recipe for the soup. Yum!

And the mustard potatoes… out of this world.
Dining under a spectacular banyan tree