Saturday, October 12, 2013

Monkey Palace

Yesterday Matt and I had a great adventure in Jaipur! We went to the Monkey Palace, which has been on our to do list since we got here. We pass the entrance every morning on the way to Matt's work and my school; it's only about 15 minutes from our apartment.  It consists of a stone path that switchbacks up the side of a small mountain and back down. At the top of the mountain is the Sun Temple, dedicated to the Sun God, and at the bottom is the Monkey Temple, appropriately named for the hundreds of monkeys everywhere!

Cars can't go up this path, only rickshaws and aparently motorcycles, so we decided to walk. It is the best way to experience all the monkeys. Immediately after getting out of the car we were swarmed with men trying to get us to pay them as tour guides (Ajay warned us this would happen).  There are times where I appreciate a professional tour guide, but I don't need a local kid to help me walk, or protect me from monkeys - that's what Matt is for. As soon as we started on the uphill path, there were monkeys everywhere! There were pigs, cows, and goats too, but I see those up close every day.



The pigs are the greediest animal in India.  They grow to be HUGE, hogging all the food (garbage) from other animals.  I see cows and horses with their ribs showing, but the pigs are always as fat as possible.

Anyways...there were monkeys absolutely everywhere! I was nervous they would be hostile and get too close expecting us to feed them. At the entrace you can buy peanuts and other things to give to the monkeys. They are also fed bananas from the fruit vendors. But they didn't seem to be too interested in us. They were busy picking bugs off each other.



A view of Jaipur from near the top.


Some goats going for a stroll.  Little do they know that next week is the muslim holiday Eid, and millions of goats will be sacrificed. Sorry goats.


There's Ajay in the background. He parked his car at the other side of this hill and met us at the top. The top is where the Sun Temple is, overlooking the city.


More bug picking....I felt a little itchy when we left.







Matt LOVED feeding the monkeys. He said this was the best experience he has had here yet.



These pools of water contain holy water. Many people pilgramage here to bathe in the water.




And just in case you were sick of seeing monkeys....

Yesterday was a really fun experience to see all the monkeys, and was good photography practice. Those monkeys move fast!

We still have a long list of things to see and do here, so many more photos to come. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Getting into a routine

Matt and I are on our 12th week here, and we are finally done with many (not all) of the annoying tasks required for being a resident of Jaipur.  We are settling into a routine with Matt's work and my volunteering, and we continue to find places and things that are a comfort from home.

Last week we went back to the Foreign Registry Office (FRO). It is hands down the most frustrating place in Jaipur, worse than the bank! We apparently have to get registered there because our visas are for more than 180 days. You would think that this office would have some sort of system or organization, or maybe more than one old computer. Instead, it is a room literally stacked with papers to the ceiling and passports attached to papers laying everywhere. I snuck a picture... I am going to buy them some filing cabinets.

 

This was our second visit, totalling about six hours, and Matt is still the only one registered. I have to go back next week which I am NOT looking forward to.  We have brought books both times to occupy ourselves and tried to be patient, but these people act like everything is impossible.  We had to have our landlord sign papers after the first visit which are for people living in hotels, so that made no sense. Then Matt had to fill out the exact same form five times the last trip because this place doesn't have a copier to make copies of the same paper.  The worst part is knowing that all the paperwork they have made us fill out is just going into that heaping pile of crap, never to be found again.  I am really tempted to just not go and see if anyone says anything.  The only thing that came out of it for Matt was some scribbling on his visa which I could do myself.  I know that if I paid these guys 200 rupees they'd scribble on my passport and I could be out of there faster, but I refuse! It shouldn't be so hard to do something that they are forcing me into.

Enough with that rant...

I posted earlier about one of my plants having a fungus and I realized it's not from over-watering, it is from the disgusting India water coming out of the faucets.  There is so much salt and other junk in the water it was making all my plants sick.  I realized I needed the third faucet turned on in our kitchen. This is municipal water that is donated by other residents...some sort of filtered water comes out of the faucet between 8-9am while the supply is turned on.  I would never trust this water to drink, but I can use it now for our plants.  Getting the sink fixed, however, took 8 men an entire day: our landlord and his cousin, five maintenance guys from the apartment, and our driver to translate.  At first they tried to hook up the water supply to the outside water. This of course did not work and just caused a huge mess as holes in the cement wall of the laundry room were hammered out.  Now there's another place for critters to live. Great. At least it works in the kitchen now.  Matt fills up buckets of the water in the morning, and then I water the plants. It's good teamwork. 

This water however is not only killing the plants, but killing my hair! I ordered some special shampoo and conditioner made for hard water.  I can at least get a comb through my hair without ripping half of it out, but I am still losing a sick amount of hair every day.  My next task is to find a water softener to attach to the shower head.  I think I will take this one on myself...it does not require 8  people.

Last week we also noticed the water from the filter was starting to taste funny.  Matt decided to change it and this is what he found...


This is the filter after 11 weeks next to a new one...Mmm! I think we will need to start changing this much more frequenty. I was completely disgusted by this.  We were told it would last a year, which is why we didn't change it until we started tasting it.  Matt was able to pry the filter open to change it after a little work.  When the guy came to install the filter he was telling Matt to call him when we need it changed. Matt tried to tell him that he doesn't need to call him  when he can just unscrew it and replace it. When the maintenance guy saw that he tightened it extra hard with a certain tool to try to force Matt into calling...luckily that didn't work.  I don't understand why everyone thinks the easiest things need explaining.  Our landlord tried to get someone to come over to give us a demonstration on the fridge...is there more to it than just plugging it in?  He also gave me a demonstration on the lights after replacing some bulbs. "This is on, this is off.  If you push both of these, both lights go on.  If you just want one light on, push here." This went on for several minutes. 


Besides the annoying things in our apartment and the FRO, things are going pretty well.  I am really enjoying school.  Some of my classes did some writing about themselves and made self portraits.  They really liked using the crayons.







I found some large colored paper at the store, so we have started making posters to hang up.


Last week there was a group of high school girls from South Africa visiting.  They did some painting in the classrooms which really brightened things up!



It's pretty cool that these kids get volunteers from all over the world. They were showing off their skills, and they can say hello in German, Spanish, and English, can count to ten in Spanish, and they even know some American Sign Language! It was pretty impressive.

So life is getting more routine here which I appreciate.  Today is Gandhi's birthday so everything is closed. I'll have to occupy myself. It is also Matt's birthday!!! We will celebrate over the weekend.
Have a great week everyone, enjoy your cooler fall weather which I am jealous of. :)