Driving into Jaipur: 10% brakes, 10% horn, 80% luck

My best advice to anyone traveling in India is to hire a driver. One like Shri Rana Ji, who can navigate the lanes like a king salmon up river against all odds, currents and competitors while stopping on a half rupee! Then, sit back and just pretend you’re on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. You’ll be safe, and it’s worth everything you paid.

In all fairness, you can’t really call the lanes here “lanes” … or even, for that matter, “suggestions.” They’re more like benign asphalt graffiti. Who even notices them with the bicycles, rickshaws, mopeds carrying entire families, hand pushed wooden carts, camel, mule or horse-pulled produce wagons, tractors, small cars, buses, funeral, wedding and religious processions five people across and half a block long, traffic grazing holy cows, pedestrians, wandering dogs, goats, water buffaloes, and yes, even elephants?! And all of them go whatever direction they fancy from moment to moment. No one loses their temper, they just keep honking, moving toward their various destinations and slipping through any space available.

Shri Rana Ji gets us safely to our guest house on a side street and our shoulders begin to relax. The Atithi Guest House in Jaipur is simple, clean and lovely! From the roof respite to the quiet dining room and little library/computer area. The next day we have a wonderful tour of the Amber Fort with so many incredible features (including Jagmandir “hall of victory” glittering with mirrors), an ancient observatory with a huge sundial, seeing Jai Mahal “the palace on the lake”while sipping fresh coconut milk with our excellent guide Govind Gopal. We return to the guest house, and from the roof, watch the sunset over the “pink city” now turning more of a rose gold. We are indeed in India! — Anne

Susan, Jonah and Shri Rana Ji at the Yellow Fort