By: Alexa Chanelle
We spent two days nestled between the mountains in the pink city of Jaipur. A lively place filled with open markets, monuments and people who are always heading somewhere.
Our modern hotel had more activity than the others we stayed at prior. There were numerous families checking in and out with children that ran around the lobby carelessly. I, like the children, was excited to be there and wanted to run around the lobby with them. As a 6 foot tall adult I figured that wouldn’t be appropriate, so I showed my excitement through snapchats that failed to post.
My room, which was on the fourth floor, had a magnificent view. On my left I could see the summer palace that peeked out of the middle of the lake in which it was built, with a mountainous background. In front of the palace I saw artisans lining the boardwalk with their goods to sell. In the distance there was a fort on top of a mountain. So high the morning fog almost made it disappear. Parakeets flew in pairs, monkeys roamed about and dogs barked below me. To my right apartment buildings, possibly made of sandstone, were decoratively scattered about the mountainside.
I thought about how blessed I was to witness such beauty. I took many pictures of this view even though I knew my iPhone 5c wouldn’t do it justice. I’m not quite sure anything but the human eye could accurately capture what I saw and the feeling it gave me.
During our stay we visited Amer Fort. It was surrounded by a wall and as we entered its gates ancient architecture intermingled with 21st century patrons. We rode elephants to the top and upon arrival an extravagant palace was revealed to us.
Rooms made entirely of marble so intricately designed I couldn’t imagine how its creators envisioned such beauty within a marble slab. Colorful paintings, mirrored rooms and of course breathtaking views of the city.
Later we took a driving tour around Jaipur. We saw glorious government buildings, sports arenas and statues. Although I tried to pay attention to our guide as he recited the city’s history, it was diverted by the child beggars who tapped on our windows at every stop light. Little hands covered in dust and dirt didn’t cease their banging even when we tried to ignore it. Their voices asking for anything we can give. We all had the urge to reach into our pockets but each time our guide shooed them away. As I observed those around me anger filled my heart as people in cars taunted the kids with candy. Some eventually threw it on the ground for them to fetch… others closed their windows and gave nothing at all.
No matter how hard I tried I could not erase this experience from my mind. How can so few live so lavishly while their people live in dirt? This question haunts me for I am unable to answer it.
Each night we all gathered on the roof of our hotel for reflective conversation and a few drinks of course. Watching Jaipur sleep as its street lights twinkled like the stars above. Our dialogue drifted between deconstructing ideologies and humor. All the while reminiscing about the luxurious palaces we had the opportunity to see– as well as the profound poverty that was right outside of its gates.
As I gazed off into the distance, overlooking Jaipur, I thought how blessed I was to be here. As I continued to gaze I couldn’t help but think about those overlooked.