22 March 2010

Of camels and swirling smells in Jaipur, India

JAIPUR, India—I walked for two and a half hours yesterday morning from my hotel to old Jaipur, the walled Pink City, and was hustled by auto rickshaw drivers somewhere close to 100 times, which is no exaggeration. In addition to countless hellos, requests for my name and/or country of origin, a handful of what I figured were smarts remarks in Hindi or Rajasthani, I was also asked if I wanted charras (hashish) or a woman, and politely declined both.

In the two days I have been here I have seen countless cows and horses, many camels pulling carts, and even a pair of water buffalo sharing the Jaipur cityscape with an ocean of people. Urban India, at least what I have seen, is a relentless olfactory attack, an ever changing mixture of spices, animal feces, incense, human sewage and garbage, food and fresh flowers. About the time one odor has you close to gagging, your nose will pick up a sweet aroma, or vice versa.

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