So after we’d had our insanely good dinner at Meg’s house and been dropped off at the hostel, we allowed ourselves a couple of hours faffing time before going out again. We met Replacement Oscar again, who’d had to cut short his Old Delhi tour to meet a friend from the airport, and met his friend who was too hilarious to cope with considering how little sleep we’d had in the past few days (jokes can be very difficult to process when you’re sleep deprived). Daniel and I hung out with them for a little bit because we couldn’t face packing, listening in on their trip planning – Grant constantly got Jeselmir and Jaipur and Jodhpur mixed up – but eventually we conceded that packing now would be a lot more sensible than packing at half 4 the next morning. My ‘packing’ consisted of sweeping everything that was on my bed into my rucksack and shoving it in until it squashed down enough, and took all of five minutes.
The others weren’t ready to go out yet so we headed up to the rooftop to drink some juice (…whisky and coke) with Grant and his friend (Gary, by the way). We were sat with some absolute eejits of the kind you really don’t want to meet, the type who would deride you for getting a taxi anywhere or for not knowing where a place was, who couldn’t go a sentence without mentioning ‘this one time on my gap yah’, who couldn’t even conceive of a way of enjoying travelling without chundering everywahhhhh. So annoying. (Watch this video if you don’t get the reference).
Luckily before long everyone was ready, so we headed off to meet Meg and Guy at a place called Garage, Inc. Unfortunately there was nowhere to sit down, so we decided to go somewhere else – but not before I got the shock of my life when I was tapped on the shoulder by my old friend Sid, who I first met whilst in India on the ICS programme almost two years previously. We’d arranged to meet up but what with him not having any phone credit and us only being able to talk via Skype messenger, I’d almost given up hope of it ever happening. It was a wicked surprise. So once the shock had worn off, we headed to another bar called OTB (out the box, ha), where there were plenty of seats but the beer was super expensive. We stayed for a drink and waited for Grant and co to catch us up, and then moved on to yet another bar, and this time we hit the jackpot. Mybar was the absolute dream: a bar where the beer was 160 rupees, the music was great, and there was a dancefloor. It really was India’s answer to Klute (which, for those of you who don’t know, is the official worst club in Europe, and infamous in Durham). Beer at such a low price is a dangerous thing, but it made for a great, great night.
The bar shut at 1, as ever, so we were obliged to go home, but luckily we had Meg with us, so we got to once more experience the comforts of an air-conned 4×4 whilst the rest of the party slummed it in a tuk-tuk (ha, peasants). You would think that with the imminence of our 5am wakeup to catch our 6 o’clock train to Jaipur, we would have called it a night there – but that would be to believe that we are a sensible bunch, which apparently we are not. We went up to the rooftop for a little while, and Meg came to join us (with a slight delay caused by having to bribe the night guard), and didn’t go to bed until about 3. It was a dumb decision, but a wicked night.
About 5 minutes after we’d gone to bed we were up again to catch our train, running around like headless chickens trying to sort ourselves out (none more so than Tyler, who had fallen asleep without his headphones in and not heard his alarm). We made it out the front by about 5.25, grabbed the nearest auto who naturally took full advantage of the fact we were in a rush and overcharged us, but we made it to the station in the end with a luxurious five minutes to spare. Our train was already at the platform, so we walked swiftly across to find our carriage (we don’t run, we’re British, we must maintain an air of nonchalance), which naturally was one of the furthest away. We made it though, and that’s the main thing – there was some minor seat shuffling but it all worked out OK. Once we made it to the air con we all sunk into our respective seats with relief, thankful that the previous night’s stupidity hadn’t cost us the train. We pretty much slept the whole way to Jaipur, only waking up for the train food (I was sat next to two Indian guys who would poke me to wake me up every time the people came past with food or tea), and were there before we knew it.
We were all still sleep deprived and grumpy when we emerged from the station, and were so used to the ways of Delhi that we just assumed we would get out and immediately people would be trying to con us – Tyler properly shouted at a taxi driver who we ended up actually going with. We made it to the hostel without any problems (fitting five people into four seats no longer ever counts as a problem) and were jubilant to find that our room had air con. Seriously, there are two things that have been crucial to most people’s happiness on this trip so far: air con and wifi.
Essentially what happened for the rest of the day was that we slept. We slept because it was nice and cold, we slept because we’d averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night, we slept just because we could. Most of us were asleep until about half 5 in the afternoon, after which we decided to get ready and go out to dinner with Claudia, who was coincidentally in Jaipur just for the weekend. We ate in a hotel called Pearl Palace, which was pretty heart wrenching for us because we had tried to book a night there based on many many recommendations, but they were fully booked.
The food there was pretty incredible (but then, I think all the food here is incredible), and we basically just sat around chatting for a good 3 or so hours. We went to have a nosy at Claudia’s room, which only served to rub salt in the wounds – it was pretty amazing. After we had lounged on her unnecessarily large bed for a little while longer, we decided to call it a night and head home to the hostel.
We arranged to meet up the next day and go and see Amber Fort together before Claudia had to fly back to Delhi. Little did we know how mental our second day in Jaipur was going to be.
But that’s a story for another day.