24. Indian style celebration. Jaipur-Ajmer-Pushkar-Mumbai

We were desperate. We arrived to Jaipur on Christmas Eve and we really wanted to spend it nicely. We managed too find a new host and after entering his flat we realized how lucky we were. Jay, brother of our host was a great, easy-going guy and he arranged the whole flat for us. Nice room, wifi, kitchen and bathroom was exactly what we needed. So happy we could finally speak to our families on skype we prepared a real Polish feast with a fish, potatoes and cabbage. Christmas carols and mini Christmas tree (really mini…) accompanied us that evening and even though we were so far from our homes nothing could ruin our mood.

Our mini Christmas with a mini Christmas tree

Jay was so nice that he invited us for a wedding of a brother of his friend. It may sound funny but in India it’s completely normal. Most of parents save money for their whole life just for that one day. The party must last at least 4 days and include from 300 to even 2000 people. Insane. The wedding was in Ajmer but before that we visited a town nearby that turned out to be one of the main hippie destinations. Pushkar was tiny but had a great energy and the lake surrounded by Hindu temples with their evening ceremonies created a really magical atmosphere. After spending few hours there we came back to Ajmer ready to attend the wedding. Although it was already 7 pm our host wasn’t ready yet so we spent 3 more hours to dress the guys, Callum and me, buy flowers and get to the palace. Yes, palace. It was definitely not like Polish “remiza” where max 100 people attend the wedding. It was a massive hotel with a dancefloor, buffet and a stage where bride and groom smiled for about 10 hours receiving the gifts and taking pictures. There wasn’t much happening so we decided to drink something in a hotel room with one friend (weddings are non-alcoholic). We didn’t know that the party was almost over so when we came back we quickly ate something and there was a time to leave. Great wedding, haha. Maybe we didn’t see much but at least we learned that if we just dress nicely we can enter any wedding as no one would even notice us in this crowd of people where no one knows anybody.

Jamming by Pushkar lake

We came back the same night as the next day was Callum’s birthday. I arranged the cake and wine (so expensive and difficult to find there!) so our last day in Jaipur was pretty relaxing. We went to the Monkey temple in the middle of the hills where hords of monkeys occupied the place playing with whatever they had. We could see kids playing with rubbish, many beggars and all kinds of animals (cows, goats, wild pigs, dogs) eating trash. Very sad but true. If you wanna see the real India go to the places where no one goes. Then you will realize how lucky you are with all the goods you have, health and education. But even though these people don’t have much they always smile and that’s the most beautiful thing about this country.

Indian wedding “show”

After leaving Jaipur we got a night train to Mumbai. Surprisingly, we didn’t find any host in this huge city so we found a cheap hotel in the centre. Before coming here I thought the whole city looks like on the scene from “Slumdog millionaire” where blind kids begged in the middle of slums. And probably somewhere they exist but the reality looks pretty different. Developed, modern, with a huge British influence, Mumbai looks like an Indian mix of London and Los Angeles. The first day we visited most of tourist places and found a lovely Indian restaurant where we ate every day. The next day we took a boat to Elephanta island where besides tons of rubbish and monkeys we could see beautiful ancient caves carved with dozes of Hindu statues. Definitely worth visiting.

Two faces of Mumbai

It was a New Years Eve and we didn’t really know where to spend it. Fortunately at the last moment we found a host who invited us to stay with him. After entering a mini-villa he admitted he’s not a millionaire and he “borrowed a place” of his brother. That’s the couchsurfing spirit, haha. Karthik was a nice, intelligent young man, full of energy and ideas. We started the party quite early with fully stocked fridge. His friend Priyabrata joined us later and after a quick eye-to-eye I realised I met him on cs meeting in Delhi. World is small. Partying in Mumbai is quite expensive so we tried our luck with entering the clubs for free. Although our white skin helped a lot our friends had to pay so at midnight we landed in some old school pub for rockstars where we weren’t even allowed to dance. It wasn’t the best place for NYE party so we came back to the first club and that time they let us in. Monkey bar had a quite nice music but after the whole night spent in rikshaws looking for a good place we were quite tired so about 3 am party was over and Mr rikshaw driver safely transporter us home.

New Year’s Eve in Mumbai

I drunk a way too much and the next day I was literally dying. But as we planned we went for a walk around Mumbai slums. After an hour in 40°C I quickly came back to life after sweating out all the alcohol from the last night. The slums looked much better than I imagined, most of the people lived in tiny houses all connected to each other. People were friendly, curious and smiling. We bought some candies for the kids who were constantly surrounding us with their sweet: “Hello, how are you??”. We didn’t have a chance to see a famous Bollywood studio but from Indian movies we’ve watched we assumed we didn’t miss much. Hitchhiking in India has been really well so far so the next day we decided to leave to Goa where the real party was about to begin.

Inside the Mumbai slums

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