In Jodhpur: a marketplace, a mindgame, and some biscuits
When we got to Jodhpur, we had two hours before it got dark. The RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation) itinerary suggested spending a bit of time at the Sojati gate and Clocktower, near an open-air marketplace. Saje (our driver) doesn’t know Jodhpur well, and met a guide at a restaurant, but we declined the extra fee since we didn’t know if the guy was good or had credentials, and Saje couldn’t explain to us how he knew the guide would be good. We payed for it with the following experience, which should be better now that we’ve been explicit with Saje as to the things we want to see on the map, and the order we want to see them in.
The Sojati gate has an open air marketplace next to it, and saying “Sajati Gate” in an americanized accent wasn’t getting through to Saje, so he kept going “Ah…” without affirming our destination. We suggested he ask for directions to the open air marketplace, which he took to mean we wanted to go shopping, at which point we spent an hour driving around going to different places where he’d get commission, and him being really tired from the long ride earlier in the day and feeling lost. Finally, someone told him to go to the clocktower (which I excitedly agreed with), and we headed toward it. As an aside, people are ALWAYS happy to give you directions, even if you are a driver and they are your competitors on autorickshaws.
After the hour of bungling, we made it to the open-air market, and I was pretty cranky since I had no intention of any more commercial spending in India except for restaurants and historical/art sites. It turns out A.J. and Meredith were pretty cranky, too, and we all walked around being pissy at one another in a very polite “no, it’s my fault, but why did you say market if you didn’t want to go to a market” sort of grammatical construction. We finally decided to get out of the lack of the carbon monoxide and into a shop. A.J. insisted it would be rude to not come back with something after putting Saje through the driving ordeal to get here, but everything in the store (which had EVERYTHING in it, and was refreshing because it wasn’t a tourist trap, so we weren’t mobbed as rich white people) was uninteresting. Finally, we spotted some crackers, and Meredith and I recognized some Parle-G’s (the most amazing name ever) which we’ve had before and enjoyed. At 15 Rs (30 cents) for more than we will ever eat, we wanted to get those so Saje would be satisfied.
And that’s where the fuck-fest of a story begins. I reached into a glass case to grab a package, and a random guy walked up to us and said he could help us with our purchase, grabbed a package, and walked over to one counter (the counter of the guy selling food in the larger clothing store). The guy started to ring it up, but I got annoyed at the lack of help, so I got another package and went to buy it myself, since I didn’t need any help. The “assistant” looked confused, and said he was helping me. He then rang up the purchase, and asked me for money. I asked him to give me the package first, so he walked me over to another counter with a guy who put the package in a bag behind a counter. Our assistant asked us for the money again, and I said no again. He seemed annoyed, and walked back over to the cracker counter. He got a receipt from the cracker guy, and asked for the money again, so I told my homeboys that we were leaving the store, and we walked out. The guy came after me, walked me over to the bag counter, and gave me the bag. We walked back to the cracker counter, and I gave him 20 Rs to give to the cracker guy. I got my change back, checked the bag to make sure the crackers were still there, and walked out with the guy doing what I can only imagine as his version of flipping me off.
We had our crackers, and the whole experience lightened the mood once we laughed it off. We came back to the car with an unnecessarily large shopping bag, which seemed not to matter to Saje anyway, came home, had some buscuits and a light dinner, and enjoyed ourselves!