Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crossing Rajasthan to Jaipur (rather rambling I fear)

I arrived in Jaipur a few nights ago after an unplanned trip across Rajasthan with my new host.
I was introduced to amazing scenes of luxury hotels as well as the wild hair-raising experience of "highways" in India and rural countryside which remains nearly unspoiled.
I asked endless questions and learneda variety of interesting facts about India.

I saw scenes of farming, and rural villagers going about their daily chores.
I saw impossibly over-loaded trucks on the highway, faced traffic conditions that would surely be fatal on the orderly western roads.

I'm really not sure what to express, in this entry, or how to convey my present emotional state.
I do not feel the level of inspiration I have felt in recent days, and as such am more "thinking out loud", so forgive my lack of eloquence.

I am tired, again, in my body and soul, and physically "under the weather" as my cold and cough have returned full force, and I am again experiencing a lot of digestive troubles despite eating mostly healthy (although in the past two days a lot of fried) food.

I have not had much chance to get out on my own and explore Jaipur. I've been relying on my guide, who I have been meeting in the afternoons. I've been afraid of being cheated, ripped off, misled, or otherwise duped if I venture out on my own. I do not understand so much about this place, still, even though I learn more every day.
India remains a truly FOREIGN country. I hate to become repetitive, but I can't express how true that feels to me.
How do you know if you are getting a fair deal, a true price (like a local would pay)?
How do you find your way around without a local's assistance?
I see other foreigners out walking, even young white girls on their own. Where do THEY get the confidence to venture out so boldly, to stand up to touts, to bravely face what to me seems an incomprehensible system of roads and alleys?
What do you do if you get lost? I'm afraid of looking lost and confused because that indicates weakness, which opens the door to being taken advantage of.
Self-confidence is an issue for me even on the relatively familiar ground of the USA.
Here, I am like a helpless child, lost and longing for someone to hold my hand.
And yet, I still feel the need to maintain my solitude, my independence.
I refuse to be tied down to someone else's expectations of how I SHOULD act, or to rely solely on one person for all my needs.

Jaipur seems to be a nice city, relatively speaking. There are many development projects such as modern shopping areas, broad and fairly clean urban streets, and a better sense of organization...insomuch as anything in India is "organized".
Still, there is an old city, and on roads in the outskirts, too, the jumble of bazaars threatens to consume the uninitiated outsider.

If I had a higher (say, triple my actual) budget, I would be less intimidated. I wouldn't have to worry about being overcharged a hundred rupees because a hundred rupees would be utterly insignificant. But for me, a hundred rupees more a day will mean running out of money long before the scheduled end of my tour.
I think it's time to sit down and do some serious recalculation of finances.
Is it really practical for me to stay here til the last week of March, or should I cut roughly a month off of this tour?

I can change or cancel train reservations easily, if need be.
I would ideally like to upgrade to nicer accommodations when on my own in guesthouses.

Right now it is looking like I "should" cut about 4 weeks off this trip.
The issue now is deciding what I can miss and what should seriously NOT be missed.
Perhaps two weeks in Varanasi is more than enough. Possibly the same for Dharamsala.

After all, what's the point in being here if I can't even enjoy getting out and about and exploring/seeing/doing things on my own?

I'd be better off hiding under a pile of magazines and cats in Florida for a few extra weeks til my WWOOF starts in April!