Last November, I was informed by my good friend Firoze that AirAsia was running discounts on its flight to Jaipur during this time. I had impulsively booked the tickets. My only agenda was to meet him and have some fun along the way.
My stay was only for four days, starting from Wednesday to Saturday. Hence, there wasn’t much I had planned to do. I was dead tired when I reached Firoze’s place and Jaipur’s heat kind of added to the effect. Needless to say, I slept through the entire Wednesday morning.
One of Firoze’s colleague, Nandan, had his marriage anniversary and I, being Firoze’s guest and all, was invited, too. Firoze and his friends are geologists in GSI, so it was pretty amusing to meet people who were happy to meet me and say something in the lines of, ‘Ah, thank god you are a non-GSI fellow.’ I guess they were tired of discussing work related stuff outside their office premises.
I ended up shooting a lot of photographs for Nandan.
The next morning, Firoze took me to a nearby park (Jawahar Circle Garden). It was a nice place where people of all ages had come for their morning walks, runs and yoga. The sun wasn’t up yet and the weather was very pleasant.
I accompanied Firoze to his workplace. After spending some time at the office and giving Nandan his photographs, I left for the Pink City area for all the touristy stuff. I walked around the market and visited the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and the Jantar Mantar. It was hot but I managed by walking underneath shades and drinking a lot of water.
I had some simple food from Laxmi Mishtann Bhandar (or LMB as it is commonly known) and bought some connectors for Firoze to set up a minimalistic recording studio.
That evening Firoze took me to Lazy Mojo, a continental style cafe, for our dinner. They served pretty nice non-vegetarian dishes considering the fact that most eateries in Rajasthan cater to their large vegetarian population.
Firoze had planned a safari trip to Ranthambore National Park. He had arranged for all the tickets. We left on Friday morning and reached Sawai Madhopur in two hours by train. A lot of people prefer a road trip, like a few of Firoze’s colleagues, who planned to eventually join us. But in case you plan to go there, train is the cheapest and fastest means of transport.
The hotel had a pool. We spent most of our afternoon and night there. The heat was unbearable. Once the sun had set, we walked about two kilometres towards the market to pack some food. The food from the hotel’s restaurant that we had in the afternoon was too spicy and concluded that it was best to avoid that in the night. We ended up packing some vegetarian pseudo-Chinese stuff from a small joint called Fun and Food.
Fun and Food’s owner was kind enough to give us a lift back to our hotel. He sent one of his workers on a bike to help us out.
We had our safari tickets booked for Saturday morning 6:30 am slot. Being a weekend, a lot of people from neighbouring cities had come for the safari. The hotel owner mentioned that October marks the beginning of peak season. A lot of tourists from all over India as well as around the world plan their trips and it becomes very difficult to book a safari ticket. There are 10 zones. Amongst them, zones 1 through 5 have the highest spotting of tigers, making them sought after zones by tourists. We had tickets for zone 3 while Firoze’s colleagues had tickets for zone 2.
Fortunately, tourists of both the zones spotted tigers. One of Firoze’s colleague said that it was his sixth time and this was the first time he had seen one. I guess I had beginner’s luck.
By the time we were done with the safari, it was already quite late. The owner of the hotel was generous enough to allow us the usage of one of the rooms. We ended up taking an extended bath at the pool and eventually left the hotel at around 12:30 pm. We parted ways with Firoze’s colleagues at Sawai Madhopur railway station.
That night I was in mood for some Chinese food. We decided to terminate my trip with a dinner at Mainland China, another non-vegetarian restaurant amidst the sea of vegetarian offerings. (Well, we also saw a movie after our dinner, but Firoze slept through most of the movie.)