Eve trying out block printing
Locals craft in Jaipur
We spent our first day in Jaipur exploring the local crafts of the city. First, we stopped at a block printing shop. We saw the workers in progress as they dip the blocks that have the desired design carved into the bottom into the paint and stamp it onto the cloth. They moved with such speed yet never messed up. We saw traditional designs with flowers and elephants and also the “nursery designs” with ice cream cones and baby giraffes. We got to try our hand at block printing and it wasn’t as easy as it looked! Next, we went to a pottery shop. We got the rundown of the long pottery process and had the chance to watch the workers freehand beautifully on the products. The majority of the pottery is exported abroad. Lastly, we stopped at a paper making factory. We saw how the cotton was pressed and dried into paper and how designs were implemented. The factory was completely waste free. We ended with the gift shop and we are certain we’ve seen some of the products back home in our local craft stores!
Local block printing
Our rooftop concert
I wanted to share my experience when we attended this roof top concert. Totally got sucked into the vibe that was created by these incredible sounds. The instruments that I got to hear were the sitar and tabla (small drums). The musicians claimed that it was their first ever live performance, but It sounded like they’ve played in front of thousands. I was absolutely tranced out when the sitarist started playing. I sat there and closed my eyes and was able to sink into the sounds. It was like watching a movie full of my visions with the greatest soundtrack ever, not joking! I really enjoyed this opportunity to listen to traditional Indian music such as this. The musicians were both from families with heavy musical reputations, and it was an honor getting to experience them in this way. Very happy this was wrapped into our stay in Jaipur. This city is so vibrant and really brings the best out of what India has to offer.
Sunset over the Tiger Fort
Tiger fort and it’s beautiful sunset
Sunsets are always spectacular, so they are even more special to view when you are in a foreign country. The bright, vibrant colors mixed in with the expansive and exotic locations make watching the sunset an unforgettable moment that you will always treasure. We had the privilege of being able to watch an amazing sunset from the top of the Tiger fort, an old fortress which overlooks the sprawling landscape of Jaipur. It was a very simple evening: all that we ended up doing was watch the sunset as a group, but that is all we needed. Doing anything other than watch the majestic sun disappear behind the clouds while enjoying each other’s company would’ve seemed unnecessary. As I watched it, I thought of how it is the simple moments that you sometimes remember the most. A simple conversation, enjoying a meal, or in this case, watching a sunset, can prove to have just as much impact as a busy day sightseeing or a day trekking. At least for myself, it proved to be the perfect ending to a busy day. The busy and sometimes hectic schedule of Youth International can sometimes make you forget to relax and take in your surroundings, and watching the sunset over a beautiful city like Jaipur can remind you that you are in a truly unique, unforgettable and amazing place.
Art Center Concert
There was a concert at the the art center that a few of us decided to attend. The concert was a presentation by the world renowned Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, his son Salil Bhatt, and Traditional Indian drummer. He is creator of the instrument Satvik Veena, which is basically a Hawaiian guitar with loads of extra strings attached to give sounds similar to a Sitar. The concert started slow filled with sounds we had never heard before. It didn’t sound great in the beginning to be honest when it was just Vishwa warming up. Then his son had his solo and it was a sudden burst of musical flare. He played with such fast finger plucking and dramatic hair flips you could not help to be hypnotized. Then the drummer played and his hair flips combined with Salils, were just absolutely electric.
Sophie and Conor’s home stay
Our home stay was six kilometers removed from the area where the rest of our group resided. It was a three story house complete with air conditioning, WiFi, and most importantly 3 dogs. Our host brother, Rashi, and his father had built some kind of asphalt supplying empire, which allowed for our living conditions in the home stay. Our host sister, Amanda, was originally from London so she spoke perfect English. Amanda was a great companion to Sophie and I as she took us for fruit smoothies one day, special coffees another day, and burgers on our last. She also took us shopping to Jaipur’s main shopping district, where Sophie and I both got new outfits. Overall, it was a very boujee home stay, and Sophie and I feel very lucky to have been there for a week.
I had a unique opportunity in my home stay to connect with my host sister, Amanda. She’s a British fashion designer who married into our host family and had been living in Jaipur for the past three years. It gave me a chance to speak with someone coming from the western world who had an understanding of what my life was like and a deep understanding of India. She took me on trips into Jaipur to see the more modern side of India and to see how younger people were living. We went on a memorable shopping trip where I had never seen someone barter so well in my life, it was pure art. Amanda was well respected by the shop owners and knew what colors and styles were best and in fashion. It felt somewhat out of a Bollywood movie montage with shopkeepers unfurling scarfs and skirts left and right. I left with bags of clothes and in the most millennial fashion we postmated Indian fast food back to the house instead of actually cooking. I’m very lucky to have had the chance to meet Amanda and for her to have welcomed me to Jaipur and into her home.
The camel safari started in the early morning hours. Everyone was silently exploding with excitement and curiosity, and nobody really knew what to expect.
As we arrive and step off the open top jeeps slowly we start to see these huge beasts, toweringly tall, and the realization that we will be riding these animals came true.
As we sit cross-legged on the silky smooth sand waiting patiently for the camels to be situated, we observe the beasts and think which ones will we be riding, what should we name them, and which of the camels is calling our name.
After the assignments of the camels the journey all of a sudden starts, some tied in, some take the reins, but all in a perfectly practiced convoy.
As the movement starts and the marching begins we quickly realize we’re in a ball of gas and the sun is the lighter, luckily the first stop was shortly followed.
The camels sit in slow motion and we quickly hop off. I looked into my camels eyes now it had sat and was at my height level, and they didn’t seem like beasts at all, instead beautiful servants of the desert, doing their part to survive and nothing more nothing less.
We sit under this conveniently placed tree in the middle of the desert and just watch in awe of these creatures freely roaming the terrain indulging in whatever tasty looking tree they could find.
Meanwhile time slowly passes, some turn to music, others turn to books, I turn to exploring and took aim at this big rock peak several minutes walk away, finally getting to the top of the rock and seeing the desert from a 10-15 meter elevation opened my eyes way more to where we were and our surroundings.
That night finished with laying on the sand, watching the stars, deep conversations, and an eerie amount of persistent investigative beetles.
Day 2 brings a whole new adventure in itself with a stampede of a sand storm. Shards of sand showering on us for every step we took. Eventually getting to our lunch point we were waiting patiently, backs to the storm, for what we were told would be a performance by locals. Shortly after a colorful family shows up on motorcycles, takes a seat under this protective tree, and expresses their talent willingly and without compromise even with the storm blasting their faces.
As we set off to our camp for the night, near the end of our transit, we finally hit the sand dunes, massive dips in the ground several meters down and huge sand mounds several meters up. It looked like a still sand roller coaster with the random waves of sand high and low.
On day 3 the time went very quickly. Realizing our adventure was coming to a stop, it was a sad moment to watch my friendly beast walk off in the distance as we climbed into the jeeps and set off back to our hotel.
This adventure birthed my love for craftsmanship of training and taming animals It was spectacular to see such mammals coinciding with humans to the point where “Billy”, my camel, would let me hug and kiss him in my final goodbye.