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Jaipur - Just Another National Geographic Day!

sunny 25 °C

As we near the end of our Indian circumnavigation we have reached Jaipur, the Rajasthani capital, where a clash of civilizations is taking place on the city’s streets. The cluttered bazaars and roadside stalls of artisans, tradesmen and craftsmen have changed little over the centuries in the ‘old walled city’ of pink sandstone. And, while horn-blaring cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks may own the narrow streets today, camels, donkeys and horses still deliver the goods...
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And working elephants are a common sight…
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But Jaipur is not old in European terms. Its foundations were laid in 1727 when Maharaja Jai Singh’s sprawling conglomeration of hilltop forts, bastions and curtain walls a few miles away became uninhabitable due to lack of water. This is the abandoned Amer fort, built in the late 16th century…
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This is his ‘new’ joint in the centre of Jaipur where the current Maharaja lives…
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And this is the photogenic front of the pink palace the Maharajah built for his wives and concubines…
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However, outside the old city’s gates is a new world where westernized stores, uppity hotels and flashy shopping malls line wide treed boulevards. Since independence in 1947, India has been reluctant to allow foreign companies to compete here, but the ritzy mall stores are as cosmopolitan and almost as expensive as any in north America. Times are quickly changing; India’s well-educated, internet savvy, 'Jean Generation' with their iPhones and MacBooks are demanding the lifestyle long enjoyed by the fat cats of the west: they drink Coke or Pepsi, yearn for BMWs and Mercs, and watch endless repeats of 'Friends." International chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee are rushing to snap up the youngsters' new found wealth…
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Today’s Jaipur has fancy apartment towers that look a million bucks, (though not even close to the one billion dollars a businessman recently paid for a multi-floored pad in Mumbai). There are also plenty of posh houses with razor-wire topped walls and ferocious dogs. But just beyond their security cameras, outside their closely guarded gates, the excrement covered, potholed pavements are still home to some of the most desperate beggars that we’ve encountered. Being down and out here in India means you’ve hit bottom and there’s nowhere else to go but the street. For Canadian and U.K. citizens complaining about government cutbacks to state benefits, you might not want to believe that the Indian government boasted last week that old-age pensions are now an eye-watering four dollars a month.

Posted by Hawkson 23:59 Archived in India

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Comments

Are their four dollar lattés as good as our four dollar lattés?
Odd to see so many wearing heavy coats and jackets in view of lovely 25 degree weather.

by R and B

The contrasts in India are just mindboggling!
What a grand journey we have all been on with you.
I've loved all of it.
hugs

by Sharron and Harv

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