We woke up pretty early on day 6 of our tour to catch a 6-hour train to Jodhpur. After we got settled in our hotel, we had a delicious buffet lunch and went to explore the town!
We first stopped at the Mehrangarh Museum and toured the fort and palace. They had an excellent audio tour and was a great museum that taught us a lot about Rajasthan (the state of India that we are currently traveling though).
From the fort, we walked down into town. They call Jodhpur the ‘Blue City’ because many people mix indigo in their whitewash on their homes. The blue color is appealing to the eye, but it also keeps the homes free from mosquitos. The bugs don’t like the smell of indigo.
Near the clocktower in town we tried our first lassi. Lassi is an Indian yogurt snack. Our guide told us that they make the best plain lassi in this city. Many places add different fruits to flavor the yogurt, but we tried it plain. It was sweet, flavored with some spices, and totally delicious!
During our second day in Jodhpur, we went on a ‘Village Safari.’ It was more like a cultural tour of the local villages with a few animal sightings thrown in. We made multiple stops; peacock, deer and antelope sightings; to a pottery shop, a block printer, and a local home. Below are some photos from the day- pottery, carpet weaver, woman in red (means she is married), a man showing us how to filter water through opium (you then drink the water), woman drying cow pies to use for cooking fuel, more pottery, and block printing on fabric...
We had lunch prepared for us by Vishnoi people. They are a sect of Hindi’s that follow 29 (vishnoi) rules. Some of their rules include: they are strict vegetarians, do not drink alcohol, do cut down any trees, and do not harm any animals. We had millet chapatti, lentils, curry, chutney, small beans and lassi (which they called curd but tasted like soured milk) to drink.
After lunch, our cultural tour was over and our driver was nice enough to take us around town trying to find open ATM’s. We finally found an ATM that had cash, and a HUGE line, but our driver told us that women can cut the line. In a country where women traditionally dress very conservatively and are warned about travelling alone, I am receiving very mixed messages. However, our driver was right! We were told by the locals in the long line to go to the front of the line. So we did!
Lauren, Claire and I were only able to make a few transactions. It got a little uncomfortable at the front of the line because as foreigners, we could make multiple withdrawals where the locals couldn’t. It also takes about 3 minutes per transaction because the machines are so slow. Claire and I heard the line get a little rowdy outside and decided we had pressed our luck long enough. I did notice that when we exited, no one seemed upset that we had jumped the line. It seemed like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Since we weren’t able to get enough cash to cover the men that were with us, we traveled to a few more ATM’s.
We have seen a lot of weird stuff on our trip so far. Or at least things that are extremely different from our own life, and things we may not understand because we come from different cultures. Many things have been strange and foreign, but I would not call any of them shocking. Until now. I can honestly say that I experienced my first culture shock while using ATM’s in India. In the middle of an economic crisis.
Tears are dripping off my face as I write this, because what happened was so beautiful. It restored my faith in humanity. These people #1: clearly have so much less than me. #2: are dealing with a really crappy situation that was thrust upon them by the government #3: are frustrated: they didn’t ask for it, and they sure as hell didn’t plan on spending every day in a freaking ATM line #4: are waiting for what could have been hours, then some foreigner pops up and they get automatically get ushered to the front of the line #5: are faced with the real possibility that the foreigner is about to deplete the ATM of all of its cash.
Again, Lauren, Claire and I are ushered to the very front of the line, past 20 women who have clearly been waiting for a long time (some of them were sitting on the steps looking bored). We were completely ready to wait in the female line, but we were told that we were ‘guests of India.’ I was floored. I was also avoiding eye contact- because I’m sure that we were getting dirty looks from all the locals. We were herded through the guarded doors to the one working ATM. We were able to (extremely slowly) make a few more withdrawals.
Picture note: No one is pushing or shoving or getting violent in these lines. I’m pretty sure that I the States if a crisis like this happened, someone would end up getting hurt in a mob…in each transaction, you can only withdraw about $30. Not much. That alone would be the cause of an uproar…
Now I’m sobbing. As we walked out, I again avoided what I assumed we would be getting- stares of death. I muttered ‘thank you’ while I looked down and headed back to our driver. Soon, Lauren told me that as we were saying ‘thank you’ and exiting the bank the men and women in line were smiling back at us. No one seemed upset that we completely skipped the line. One woman even said to her, ‘you are most welcome.’ WHAT?! Are you kidding me? Not only did I completely line jump, I took more money out of that ATM than you are allowed to, and I don’t even live here. I only have to deal with this for a few short weeks on my holiday. This is your reality! (Pause while I go mop up my face.)
We did nothing to deserve the kindness that was given to us that day. I love the Hindi concepts of karma. I have never experienced something like that before. All of the people waiting in line that day definitely earned a lot of good karma that I hope they get to cash in someday. Pun intended.