No doubt that I was feeling lazy about coming again to Jaipur. In my first visit to city, I have to say I didn’t like it much as a city for tourism of for living. But I lived truly good experiences here and basically that was what I was coming back for.
First day was quite quiet. My friend Samir was super busy with wedding preparations and I didn’t want to bother much. He even got sorted a hotel close to the place for me, that was more that I could ask for. So I got settled and minded my own business. Next day, I met him and after breakfast he took me to his house with his family. This day was ladies night, so all the women in the family were getting ready for the wedding. This consists in a beauty session with henna all over your hands and feet. It was amazing how welcoming everybody was. I was the centre of the attention and they only wanted me to feel confortable, to do everything for me and even feed me. As my hand were full of wet henna waiting to get dry, they were feeding me themselves and every girl wanted to have her turn.
Once I was ready, Samir took me out for a bit of shopping, because I am pretty much a homeless person here and have nothing to wear! We went with another friend of his, a French guy who was living in Delhi now, Basile. Once in the shop, I decided for a lovely piece of cloth that called my attention the minute I entered the shop. Sadly, the cloth had whole and it was quite pricey as it was all hand worked. But that didnt’t stop my best bargaining skills and I took it with me, as I needed something to cover up my upper body and I would take out my “fancy clothes” for the occasion. The girls had been showing me their dresses and everybody was going to be so pretty, everything so colourful and shiny…I wanted to feel the same way and a simple pashmina wasn’t enough.
With the shopping done, all I could do now is get ready for the ladies night in the family house. As my friend is a man, I had a little bit of the chance to see as well what they do during this night and he took me to his shop with other friends for a while. Everything was cool until that point where a lady has to do her lady stuff (pee) and gets too difficult as there are no toilets and you cannot just do it. Not women. So with that, the manly part of the night was ending f or me and I was taken to the family’s house, where lots and lots of women were chatting, eating, getting pretty, singing and everything you can imagine. The minute I appeared they took me by the hand to get me a hairstyle. My loose hair was not done at all and I managed to get a lovely braid done by a professional beautician! I was wearing a bit of make up and now, with my hair done and my lovely clothes I was feeling truly pretty. I think everybody was quite impressed with the change in respect of the same morning, including me!
The night continued with music and a lot of dancing. I had a circle of girls around me at all times and everybody wanted to hang out with me. Everybody wanted to see me dance, of course. And so I did! I have to say I felt like a duck, seeing how well they move and how I was just trying to keep up with the movements. But I had lots of fun and that was all it was about! After a bit of dancing, a large group, including me, went around the streets of Jaipur to several houses just to scream stuff. I got to find out that this stuff was something like “come come, they are getting married, come”. I learnt the Hindi words as fast as I has forgotten them and joined the shouting.
Next: more music and more dancing. Only women and kids were around and the older men around were like 16 years old. A men or two appeared during the night, but no one else did and the night was only for us. After a bit more of dancing we went to the groom’s house. I got in a rickshaw with so many people inside…I tried to count: Around 12 people. Fun. When we got there, apparently there is this tradition where the bride’s family “fights” with the groom’s family. I only managed to see the groom brought into the middle of the people and people shouting at him and doing something like “loser, loser”. After that, we got into the groom’s house and saw the room where the bride would live with him. Some tea was offered to everybody and back to the tuk-tuk in more or less the same groups to get back to the house.
More dancing and more music kept going until 3 in the morning. I was tired but wanted to keep going. Nevertheless, sitting down a bit was also giving me the chance to chat with other members of the family. Kids, women, grandmothers, aunties….Everybody was related and formed a big huge family. There was a community sense that you could feel. Everybody was related and wouldn’t stop saying to me: this is my sister. This is my real sister. This is my cousin, this is my brother cousin… It called my attention very much a women that stood out all the time from everybody else. All happy, strong minded, taking care of everybody, taking care of everything… It turned out she was 38 years old (which she doesn’t look like at all) and was actually a grandmother already. She was the one that was dancing the most. She took me out, danced with me, laughed with me…
I was the centre of the attention and also got me to take a picture with the bride in the sofa where she had been taking pictures with everybody for her wedding album. I was driven into every event. I could notice how the bride was not particularly happy. She was all serious, although she got to show me her arms and legs full of henna, quite proud of it. When the night was finishing, she got to cry a bit. I could see how difficult it would be for someone to leave that community and her family to go to live with a stranger community that was not hers but now would be her family.
Around 3 am the grandfather, who showed up quite happy and smiley was chatting up with me and asked if I was feeling sleepy. I answered that not at all, as I didn’t want to miss a thing and I was having a great time. I felt integrated and part of something, I felt very welcomed and I was with very very special and good people. After 20 minutes he got to ask again and then I understood that everybody was actually waiting for me to go so they could go to sleep as well. I was the centre of everything! So, Samir took me back to the hotel I was staying and I slept all night and part of next morning.
When I woke up, I had to leave and walk around the city to calm my too happy soul and mind. I felt amazingly good, like this is the best time ever and I want it to never end up. I took my things and went out on my way to the post office, but on my way I came across one of Samir’s friend and he took in the tuktuk, his super cool tuktuk with music equipment and everything. The post office was closed so we ended up having chai and a beer and chatting away. I was also supposed to get train tickets at some point or it would get difficult, but I didn’t feel like. It was getting late and didn’t want to miss a thing. And when I got to the hotel I actually found out that I had an hour and a half to get ready for the wedding!
Sadly, I didn’t have more clothes, so I put on the same but differently. The minute I arrived to Samir’s house, the strong woman I liked so much took me by the hand and got me in some new clothes: Kind of a dress in velvet and long sleeve and two skirts under that. It was 30 degrees and I was praying not to die. But she got to iron a skirt and everything for me, I had to wear something pretty and I didn’t want to feel incorrect or out of place. On top of that, I was so thankful for the way they were treating me… They undid my bun and got me a new hairstyle and I was ready to go!
From the house, we got to the place where the dinner was taking place. There, I could realise how women and men were separated and Samir and the French guy Basile, my new friends, were in the men area while I was hanging around with the usual circle of girls and women that were surrounding me at all times. Dinner was amazing and people were taking care of me at all times, as it was the usual thing by then.
Then, we headed back to the bride’s house to see how the bride was leaving the house. Following some order, people took seat in a sofa next to the bride to take pictures. Firstly the grandfathers (I think), putting a hand on her hand as giving blessings to the bride to go. As this was taking place I could see how the feelings were mixed. People were sad. Truly sad. The family was devastated that she was going to leave the nest and live with the groom’s family now. But at the same time, they were trying to make jokes and laugh and keep that good sense of humour that Indians have. Serious faces like the bride’s brother were mixed with crying eyes in some of the girls and jokes and attempts to keep happy and smily in between many family members. Finally the groom arrived to the house, sat beside the bride shaked hands with the men and took a picture in the same sofa that everybody else. He was wearing a suit and a shiny turban and the bride was dressed in gold and red. She was absolutely the most gorgeous girl there, but I don’t think I saw her smiling at all. She kept serious all the time and at the end, the groom took the lead to leave the house while she was right behind him and backed by the females of her family, singing for her quite solemnly. That was the end of it. No more dancing, no more party, no more of any of that but a sour feeling at the end. I could understand how sad this moment was for the family and the bride because I have seen the strong sense of community they have. They support and help each other, share everything, live together, laugh together and are family and friends at the same time. They have something that Europeans can’t probably ever have or easily understand without witnessing it.
It was over and it was a bit difficult for me to understand everything and assimilate what had happened in just 48 hours.
A few walks in the city and hang out with people around Samir’s shops had got me closer to the Indian culture. They are happy over all. They are not fuzzy; they don’t get angry and don’t give importance to almost anything. They have their own pace and don’t get stressed. I have so much to learn from them. And they always allow me to have such a good time surrounded by them!
Despite the next day of the wedding I should have left, I didn’t have any train tickets to do so, as I got a bit lazy about it because I was having a very good time. I realised how lately I am getting lazy about leaving places, packing, taking trains… It’s not a new feeling, I have had this before and on top of that, this time I was feeling a bit lost as I had not a clue where to head next. Mumbai was an option I didn’t like and I knew nothing about Ahmedabad. But they were in between to go to see the caves in Aurangabad and needed to take time to arrive there and don’t rush myself, as there is plenty of time until I meet Nicolo. So after two or three more changes to my itinerary and a bit of exasperation as I couldn’t get tickets to get out of Jaipur and there was nothing else to do, I decided (I was forced as the other options were not available due to my laziness and lack of planification) to go to Ahmedabad. But I had to wait a day for that and I was bored of being in Jaipur, a city I have not enjoyed much in terms of tourism. I took time to to go to the post office, fix my watch and do my stuff but after that the day was done and still had one more day to fill. That night I got to talk to Sanu, the guy of the hotel I was staying. Nice guy that cheered me up a bit. And my following day I hung around with Samir. I got a new brazalet, as the last one I got I lost it and also I wanted to buy some silver as a remembrance of my experiences in Jaipur and how special everything had been and in the afternoon I got to the cinema. The cinema experience was amazing. Movies here are as intense as the country. Everything and more happens and people show a lot their emotions while watching the movie.
My stay in Jaipur was done after that and right then I felt a stabbing pain inside me, as telling me how sorry I was to say goodbye to Samir and how unsure I was to see him ever again. Hopefully I can do for him what he has done for me wherever I am and he comes to see me so I can return that favour, because I feel greatly grateful. And with this feeling I took my next train to Ahmedabad, a 13 hours train in the morning to arrive there at night time.