The contrast between Germany and India can not be greater. In Germany you just have to toe the line. You observe the speed limit, no jaywalking is allowed. In India there are no road rules and anything can be encountered on the road. Elephants, cows, goats and people and even more people.
The chaos started in Dubai at the boarding gate. We were overweight and no reasoning could bring the charges down. "You pay!" We payed....
As we exited the airoplane our names were called. We had some stones left over from the show and these were in two of the bags. We thought, "OK we will just have to face the music" We had to report to ground personnel. Ground personnel told us that one of our bags did not make it unto the plane and will be forwarded to our hotel. We did not want to declare the other stones in our bags because in India bringing in commercial goods means lots and lots of issues and paperwork So our stones went undiscovered and was now with us enroute to Jaipur.
Our hired taxi turned out to be a teenie little car and two of the bags went on the roof rack and was tied down with ropes. The trip to Jaipur can not be described it had to be experienced. It is only 285 km but it takes you almost 6 hrs. The road is a 2 and 3 lane road with lots and lots of trucks, tractors and even camels. There are no rules, the slowest vehicles can be found in any lane. So you have to weave your way though the lot.
The photoshopped pictures of the hotel turned out to much better than the hotel itself. Everything looks tired in India. It is very difficult to make a frame with your fingers and look at a view through this frame and not find some form of decay that assaults your senses.
Our first supplier is a personal friend and he loved the remaining mineral stock we smuggled through customs. He bought everything. Our visit was off to a flying start.
In the next 4 days we visited one supplier each day. And the precious gems and sparkling jewelry pile just kept on growing. The secret in buying is to buy those items that you know that your customers or a specific customer will love.
The first day we bought the big ticket items. Hand made necklaces and bracelets that are each one of a kind unique items. Imagine that. You will be the only one that has a piece like that. Isn't that special!
The thing that makes India special are the sights and sounds and even the smells. We hired Dinesh for the duration of the time we were there. He owns a Tuc Tuc and he takes his job seriously. He takes us wherever we want to go and then wait for us to be done and then takes us to the next place. He is a devoted Hindu that goes to temple to appease the hindu pantheon of gods. This morning it will be the elephant god and tomorrow the monkey god. And the always present orange smear on the forehead to show that he has been to the temple. He even stops to feed the pigeons because it gives good karma we were told.
Driving through Jaipur in a Tuc Tuc is fantastic. The madness of the traffic the near hit of a cow crossing the road and the blasting of horns and then the smells of curry or the rubbish pilled up in heaps on many corners. It must be experienced by anybody at least once in their lives.
The unexpected painted elephant on the way to entertain wedding guest or the white prancing horses that follows. The small child begging at the traffic light with grubby hands and picking at your heart. Then you see the rest of the family living om the kerb of the road. These are times when you are grateful for what you have.
The haughty tout who pestered ud at the market to drive up the prices and then acusses us off looking down on him. If he only knew how my heart bleeds for all the poor and destitute. But here there are no theft in India despite the poverty. If you are really hungry someone will feed you. That is the beauty of India. You feel safe amid all this squalor.
Knowing where to buy is half the battle. Prices can be all over the park and good sellers know that wholesalers like us always come back and that we always come back to where price and quality was best. So after a few trips and many Rands on school fees we now have trusted suppliers.
We bought enough jewelry to fill each birthstone cabinet to the brim. We can not wait to share it all with you.
We had one day of tourism and made the best of it. Our first stop was to the crematorium where the royalty gets cremated. This old structure was built in the times of the rajas of India. It is spectacular. And this is where you have to take your wedding pictures. Groups of photographers were busy taking photos of well dressed couples in traditional Indian clothing. This was great to see.
Then we were off to pick up the tailor made shirts Annalie ordered. All in hand dyed block printed fabrics. We loved them! But just a tip. Do not wear them before washing them. They are guaranteed to stain you. I say no more!
Then off to find an elephant to ride. Raphu which means 'beautiful' is 52 years old and she is a gentle soul that allows you to hug her trunk and then emmit a deep rumpling sound from the bottom of her chest. This must surely be on top of best experiences ever. We then went for a ride on her back. Bareback. It was great.
India we will be back! Smells and sound included.
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