11 March 2012

Jaipur: Bollywood Movies and Dress-Up

Jaipur is one of the largest cities in Rajasthan, so after a week or so of visiting smaller cities such as Ranakpur, Jojawar etc, it was quite a shock to hit a bit city again. Jaipur is called the "Pink City" because all of the buildings in the city center are made up of a very pink terracotta. While the buildings are beautiful to look at, I have to be honest and say that Jaipur was not my favorite destination in India. Christy and I had a chance to walk around the city, by the shops and such...and it was just madness! It's pretty much impossible to even look at a shop (for inexperienced hagglers such as ourselves). If you even glance at a shop's items, they harass you endlessly to come inside- even if you don't look at their items, shopkeepers will stand in your way, almost forcing you to go inside. And forget about window shopping or browsing, once inside a shop, it's almost impossible to leave without buying something as they won't take 'no' for an answer. I barely scraped by without purchasing something once, but it wasn't an altogether pleasant experience as I'm sure the guy felt insulted- but what can you do? Even the rickshaw drivers pester you to get into their rickshaw, pretty much following you, not taking 'no' for an answer.

But Jaipur does have some great architecture, and good times were had. One of my more pleasurable experiences in Jaipur was going to Jaipur's famous cinema hall, Raj Mandir. The movie of the night was a romantic comedy (Bollywood!), Tere Naal Love Go Haya. It was particularly hilarious because there were no subtitles, so many dialogue sequences were left to the imagination (luckily for us, our guide Aparna was handy for answering anything we might have been confused about after the movie.) Seeing a Bollywood movie in India is just as awesome of an experience as I was hoping it would be! The audience is completely different than Western audiences. People hoot and holler at witty dialogue, actors they like, or pretty much any emotion-worthy moment. They also use their "outside" voices when answering their phones (inside the theater)...quite a rowdy crowd, but it all adds to the experience! So much fun!
^ Hawa Mahal, or Wind Palace- a masterpiece on the main street of Jaipur.

Another great Bollywood moment for our group actually took place in Agra, a few days later. We had the opportunity to go to a family's house, get dressed up in saris, jewelry and makeup (turbans and men's outfits for the boys) and have a traditional Indian meal. We had a chance to talk with the family members, look at wedding photo albums and practice some Bollywood dance moves (which turned into an all-out Bollywood party! So much fun!) The night ended with a little pre-Holi fun (I'll make a post about Holi soon!), rubbing pink powder on each other.
^ Our host and a few of our tour mates.
^ Steve and Rob in their turbans and traditional men's outfits!
^ All our Rajasathan Adventure buddies all dressed up, with nowhere to go.

^ Christy and I and our pre-Holi pink faces. More Bollywood dance parties, please!

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