Yesterday morning we toured the old part of Jaipur in then morning, including an observatory built in the 1700s which is notable for how accurate the tools are. The horoscope is big here because it influences things like your chosen wife. You not only have your birth sign like Gemini but also an ascending sign which is what was rising at the exact time you were born and that one changes every two hours. If I'd remembered what time I was born, I would have gotten the guy to do it for kicks (though I guess I could get an Indian friend at home to get that info for me too). Speaking of marriage, we have a Native American girl in our group (Lumbee from Pembroke, NC) and it freaks the local Indians out every time they see her. They can tell she's American by her clothes but she really does look like she blends here. Plus she is fair skinned which is desirable, so Bhivou says she'd get a good marriage contract!
Next stop was City Palace which was the residence of the maharaja of Jaipur. I didn't realize there were lots of difference princely families in all the regions of this area. So interesting to learn about some of that and see their home. The current maharaja is 18 and off in college in Britain.
The architecture at City Palace was similar to the Palace of the Winds which the maharaja built on the main square. It is notable for all these covered windows which is where the royal women who weren't allowed to be seen were able to watch the comings and goings downtown. And the other woman in this pic is my roommate Geraldine.
After the touring, we went to a jewelry shop targeted for tourists and then another rug and textiles shop. I didn't think the quality of the stones looked very good at the jewelry place, but I don't know much about rubies, sapphires or emeralds beyond what Mimi had. Several people bought stuff and we spent more than an hour in that store at which point a couple of girls started plotting our escape. We had all done the elephant ride thing elsewhere in Asia, so at the tapestry store, 4 of us got the guide to put us in a taxi and headed off to do our own shopping. It was really fun. Maricarmen from Mexico (who randomly used to live/work in Arden, NC for a car manufacturer) bought a GORGEOUS dress at one of the nice sari stores. We also found a great pashmina place where the guy helped us understand the different levels of quality. We also bought some cheap crap from the hawkers, so we covered it all. We are the first large group of Americans that Bhivou has dealt with, and he hasn't understood the ladies fascination with shopping. Maricarmen said she told him shopping is American culture! It was nice to be able to walk around and just look at things, like the big bags of spices in the grocery store, etc.
We finished the day with our Mickey D'a run and drinks at the hotel. Today we are on a 6 hour bus ride to Agra, so I am going to go fuel up at the breakfast buffet.
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