From chaos to charmed

Chaos only starts to describe Delhi’s roads, horns are permanantly beeping, for no particular reason or effect. The drive on the left rule seems to just be a suggestion, as do most other traffic rules. Two lanes become three or four when human, horse or ox pulled karts need to be passed. Cows nonchalantly chew the cud in the central reservations of motorways, or when they’re not slowly wandering across lanes of swerving cars and trucks, take a nap in the middle of the road (yes, motorway traffic deftly avoids peacefully sleeping cows…). It’s easy to see why when you rent a car, you also get a driver included, and from the back of our air-conditioned cocoon we watched in awe as the cows, monkeys, pigs, camels, multi-coloured overladen trucks and buses with people on top go by.
The first part of our Indian tour is the golden triangle, Delhi to Jaipur then Agra to see the Taj Mahal and back to Delhi. Jaipur is home to the Amber Palace, a 500 year old sprawling palace that puts most British palaces to shame. Amongst other features were hammocks in every conceivable place, and an elaborate system to ensure that no two of the kings 12 wives or hundreds of concubines visited him at the same time. It was obviously difficult to entertain oneself in the days before TV!
After a delicious Indian lunch (i.e. curry), where we learnt not to order so much just because it’s cheap and tasty, we headed for the present day king’s palace. As we reached the gate, a little turban clad man whipped the top off a straw basket to reveal a cobra, and played his flute to charm the snake. He beckoned us closer, saying that the snake wasn’t poisonous. Closer up, the snake didn’t look so charmed at all, in fact he looked quite irate, proved as he lashed out at the charmer as I walked away.
Jaipur’s streets were still Delhi-esque, but the hotel proved to be a little oasis. Marble floors and a bizarre array of rooms, corridors, and roof-top dining gave the place character. As we sipped our beers, a safe 3 floors above the muddy noise filled streets, we watched monkeys leaping between buildings, pinching laundry as they went. This is more like the India we expected!