Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thankful in India :: Peaceful [Paid] Places

For this story about India, I'll have to use a few old, slightly blurry photos. My apologies, but it is all part of the story. You see while we were in Jaipur we went to the Amber Fort, a majestic old Mogul structure from the 1600s with long corridors, domed arches, and amazing views of the lake below.

To get to the fort, you've got to hike up the hill. Or you can opt, as most people do, to take an elephant ride. A tad touristy, but what the hell. How many times do you get the chance to ride an elephant? As we headed off, an Indian boy ran up to our elephant, camera in hand yelling "smile." We told him no, but he clicked away. We'd been in India long enough to know that he'd try to sell us that picture. 

While we had started off near the front of the pack, we realized quickly that we had by far, the slowest elephant in the bunch. And this gave our friend the opportunity to run up to us twice during our climb to us ask us to buy the pictures. Oh yes, there were multiple pictures. We were a bit trapped sitting atop a seriously slow elephant and could not avoid the boy. But we forgot about it once we were up at the fort. It was stunning. We paid our admission and walked in.

The arches of the fort gave off beautifully angled light, and overlooked a calm lake with a palace sitting in the middle. And as we looked out over the view, monkey’s jumped from the arches in the distance. Such an ‘other world’ experience. We wondered around the old fort for the better part of the morning before we decided to head back down the hill. As we climbed up on our elephant a small boy ran up with the pictures of us. Crap! Almost forgot about those stupid pictures. Now mind you, this wasn't the same boy from this morning. This was a different one, but he had our pictures in his hand and knew exactly who he was looking for. Our answer remained ‘no.’  We managed to get a faster elephant for the ride down, but once at the bottom we were once again asked to buy the pictures before we could get off the elephant. 'No!' we said in unison.

Our next stop was the Jain Gardens where we were out of reach from anyone local who was hunting us with the morning's Polaroids. We were now acutely aware that there was a network of children assigned to follow us around town for the day to try to get us to buy the pictures. The Jain gardens had a ‘paid admission’ and we were for the first time all day … left alone. It was peaceful. Quiet. No one wanting anything from us. At last.  We stayed for more than 2 hours enjoying the found solitude. Then decided we had just enough time left for a museum we had hoped to see in Jaipur. 

As we entered the museum, yet another boy ran up to us asking us to buy the pictures. We didn't recognize him, but the pictures were the same. Completely exasperated, the answer remained ‘no.’

Once inside we were left alone to wondered the grounds. We saw lots of mogul tapestries, armor, clothing and architecture. A wonderful museum. At one point we asked the guardsmen for a picture, only to find out that we would owe them money for taking their picture. Sigh. But as you see we took it anyway, and paid them. 

When we were leaving yet a different boy ran up to us. Asking again about the pictures. At this point our guide looked at us and said that the cost (roughly $1.00 USD) was their cost and they just wanted to re-coup their money. I admit I was furious. From the beginning I was clear that I did not want the pictures, and that I had no intention of buying them and so no pictures should have been taken. Sigh.

The $1.00 USD was nothing to us, and I felt obliged to give them what it cost to take the pictures. Yes, the pictures at the beginning of this post are in fact the same ones we were hustled to buy all day. Now these pictures sit in the bottom of a box in my den. Pictures I did not want, nor ones that ended up in a frame. But I did pull them out for this post. And as I continue my list of things we were thankful for while traveling in India, it includes finding peaceful [paid] places of solitude for a few hours away from the hustling

15 comments:

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Talk about being persistent with those photos! I guess that's their job; to harrass you until you buy the photos. What a great trip. What an amazing place to visit. I would definitely take a ride on an elephant. It's not something I get to do every day.

Caron Michelle said...

Great series - thank you for sharing this fabulous trip with us!

BIKBIK AND RORO said...

Beautiful pictures! Never mind, they are mementos of a very wonderful time, and you did help those children, which is always a worthy thing.

Christine Altmiller said...

i always resent getting my picture taken for potential souvenirs. so many great photos here and things to comment on, but i just cannot get passed the rooftop monkeys ~ what a great picture! they must have been quite the fun sight to see in person!

Duni said...

What an amazing trip, Cynthia!
Of course in poor countries there will always be enterprising youngsters wanting to make a few bucks, especially off Western tourists ;-)
I've been in situations like this too, and I've always obliged, but this encouraged all the other people...I felt a bit cornered!

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

What beautiful photos...even the ones you had to pay for...lol :)
It would be so cool to see the monkeys playing in their natural habitat!

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New End Studio said...

Such an adventure, these buildings are monumental. Your animals and kids encounters add to the fun. I'd rather give the kids the money than the guards, tenacity paid off. ♥

BeadedTail said...

It was fun seeing your photos even if you had to deal with the persistent kids asking you to buy photos over and over again. I can't imagine being in a place where I had to do that for money as a kid. It does look like a very interesting country though! Thanks for sharing your photos!

Mama Zen said...

I would love to visit India!

EWA gyöngyös világa! / EWA's World of Beads! said...

Beautiful country, beautiful photos!

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Nancy said...

Wow...what a gorgeous place to visit! Sure looks like you all had a great time!

Miss Val's Creations said...

The pictures are great and make for an amazing memory! I had a similar experience at Ephesus in Turkey. There was one kid who kept following me and taking my picture. My friend could not stop laughing at this so it was a bit funny. Of course at the end of the tour he tried selling me a bunch of photos!

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