The alarm sounds at a bone rattling 04:30, and we bundle into cars to the train station for the 5 hour trip to Jaipur.
The train station was busy, fairly dirty and full of people sleeping on the floor covered in blankets, looking creepily like dead bodies. But at least the station had the familiar London Underground roundel signage.
Our hotel is a beautiful old colonial style guest house, and I feel like wearing a white linen suit and drinking gin and tonic.
We walk through town, past the world’s largest sundial, and visit Jaipur City Palace with Karni, our tour guide. He shows us some traditional clothes, polo outfits, and some other artefacts including a night-time polo ball made of metal frame with a candle and gyroscope inside to keep the candle upright.
The hall of public audience include the two largest silver water vessels in the world and a lovely chandelier which now seems to be a pigeon nest. Or perhaps it’s a palace for the pigeon royal family?
One of the courtyards to the palace (Pritam Niwas Chowk) includes four gates, one for each season. All gates are beautifully decorated, but my favourite is the peacock gate.
Afterwards, we visit a textile block printing factory. Amazingly laborious to hand print each colour of the design with a slightly larger version of a potato stamp.
Next door is the tailor, and my eyes light up! I could get a fancy, bright silk suit! Despite how obviously awesome this would look, I realise it might not get as much use as I hope. Such are the perils of having a boring office job, and not being the bon-vivant rock star. Anyway, I settle on a tailor-made pure silk shirt and a silk/cotton blend shirt, and some presents for family and friends.
Dinner is at a fancy touristy place with sitar and tabla players, a puppet show (where the puppets take off their heads) and ladies dancing while balancing bowls on their heads. I went to a similar thing in Ahmedabad with work when I visited last year. It was good fun.
And I ordered a whisky, chicken tandoori and veggie pakora. Seems like an inconsequential detail now, but let’s see where our story goes.