We woke up to our last morning in Ranthambore and Beth and I had to admit we were sad to leave the tigers and the jungle behind for the city of Jaipur. We had our last breakfast and found that the Austro-Americans were intent on following us to Jaipur (lucky us). I have to admit I will try to take their approach to family holidays though as I’d have loved to be dragged half way across the world and immersed in all the culture of another country and get to try cool activities as a kid. The children although quite loud and demanding did seem to love it and take it all in their stride, they could certainly pick up Hindi better than we could! We also said goodbye to the lovely Indian man who’d been serving us the past few days who shyly asked if he could have a selfie. Now I know to most people a middle aged man asking for a selfie with two young girls would be outright dodgy but in India, you get used to it as the norm as a white traveller. They just seem to be fascinated by white skin and like to show friends and family that they’ve met a white person. We’ve honestly never been photographed, waved or shouted at as much anywhere else!
In what appeared to be true Indian fashion, the taxi turned up 35 minutes early to pick us up from the hotel, which resulted in both of us furiously shoving things into our bags, though at least this time we’d had breakfast! The drive to Jaipur was quite exciting and as this time we were not fatigued by 24 hours of travelling and were able to take in the atmosphere and scenery as we drove. India is most definitely the land of the colours, the people, the scenery, the animals even all the trucks were vastly decorated with paint, cotton and tinsel, its both fabulous and bizarre to behold. We did have a brief hairy incident where myself and Beth were a little unsure if we were being sold as our taxi driver pulled over in the middle of nowhere and met with a small group of Indian men to exchange money. Thankfully nothing untoward occurred and we got to our destination unscathed!
Our reason for travelling to Jaipur and the main reason for our trip to India was to spend 4 weeks volunteering with a veterinary charity called Help In Suffering. This well established charity aimed to provide care and protection to animals on the streets and to vaccinate and neuter as many street dogs as possible to control the stray population and reduce the incidence of rabies in both the human and the animal population. Their mission thus far had been a roaring success with the incidence of rabies being reduced my almost 80% and we were eager to play our part and lend a hand to aid this charity’s efforts.
We arrived at Help in Suffering at lunch time and got settled into our very basic rooms with ….NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! It was the hottest it had been for the entire trip and at 48 degrees both Beth and I initially struggled to come to terms with the fact that we were going to have to try and sleep in those incredibly sticky circumstances, trying desperately to convince ourselves, like so many people had said “we’d get used to it.” Initially it was a bit chaotic, we had no idea where everything was and everyone seemed too busy for us to pester and Mr Reece (Liverpool alumnus and manager of the charity) was no where to be found so we busied ourselves unpacking and looking around what would be our home for the next month. Beth drew the short straw as her shower had only 4 streams of water which she had to try and wash herself in. Though I did get a particular shock when I first went to my toilet as the seat was set at quite an alarming angle but looked deceivingly straight so I was nearly catapulted off the end!
Finally, we bumped into Jack (Mr Reece)who had had no idea we’d arrived! He was an interesting character who despite choosing to live in India for the last 22 years was the most old-fashioned quintessentially British fellow you could imagine. Despite the heat he always wore a smart shirt and trousers, though instead of shoes he’d settled on wearing sandals. He could usually be found strolling around with his spectacles perched on the end of his nose and a newspaper under his arm. He was incredibly blunt, clearly incredibly intelligent but also had a stammer which somehow seemed to suit him. He showed us around and had a very joking attitude towards the chaos and impossibility of Indian life which I assume is the only way he was been able to live in India all these years without losing his mind! We both felt significantly better after talking to Jack and felt even more comforted when three of the vets came and sat down with us and made us some Chai. No one’s English or our Hindi for that matter was very good but we muddled through conversations with each other and did the typical “what’s this like in your country” questioning which we actually learnt quite a lot from. During the first few nights of our stay we were quickly adopted by a one-eyed, blind dog called Goldy (one of the greatly loved ‘pets’ at the charity), who despite losing her vision got around with incredible accuracy and had taken up residence in the garden of my little compound. She wandered over when she fancied a stroke and had a look about her which made her appear incredibly worldly wise despite the lack of sight. She was also miraculously the only dog, despite being blind that could scale the fence into the compound! I have to say I liked having a little holiday pet and Goldy was definitely my kind of dog, I can see myself having the no-eyed, kinked tail, three-legged mongrel no one else wants when I become a vet. I feel she was definitely an insight into what’s to come in my future.
We did have a horrific encounter on our first evening when we came under attack by huge angry hornet/wasp things. Now neither me or Beth are particular bothered by creepy crawlies but these were large, with a stinger and were particularly furious and kept dive bombing us. We deduced that they were attracted to the light but naturally the switch was right by the light the angry little beasts were swarming around so after psyching ourselves up and armed with a broom we edged closer and did a hit and run to turn the light off and drew them away like the clever creatures we are by turning a light on a safe distance away from us. The heat I could get used to while being there, those devils not so much!