I used to lock myself in my room to write my blog, or stay up late to get done with the writing. It’s not the case anymore. Technically, I am still writing my blog alone but I’m getting some assistance from the Babylon tribe. Everyone’s making sure that I don’t leave out any detail and during the day, whenever something interesting happens, they point out that it’s something I should write about.
They are definitely making this more interesting.
So, here it goes.
Thursday night, we went Indian clubbing. I won’t compare it to what we have back in Beirut because that’s some tough competition. Anyway, we were all exhausted so only Nick, Talal and I managed to wake up to head to IIRM. However, our cab didn’t manage to reach the bus station on time so we had to head back to Babylon and come up with a plan B for the day.
We decided to go to the monkey temple. Galta Ji.
It’s an ancient Hindi pilgrimage site, 15 minutes away from Babylon by Uber. That’s the equivalent of “10 kilometers away from the center of Jaipur”. It has numerous temples and several water tanks, sacred kunds in other words, where pilgrims bathe. A guide offered to accompany us in our hike up to Surya Mandir, the sun temple. He had a bag full of strawberry-flavored candy – they were for the monkeys, not for us. So whenever we saw a monkey, we stopped.
Nick wants to make sure that I tell you the story of how he got a monkey love bite, minus the love:
When you guys were playing with the little monkeys, I saw a really big one. I was like “shiiit, that’s a big guy.” So I just squat because I wanted a better look at him. He was just staring at me. So mean. He took my hand and just bit it.
We stopped for the cobra. Some of us held it (myself included, mom, I’m not really sorry this time). It was cold and wrinkly and kept on spitting water.
We also stopped for the baba and watched him smoke a joint. He asked us where we came from.
“Baba doesn’t know where Lebanon is”, the guide said.
” Middle East”
“Baba doesn’t know where Middle East is”, the guide said again.
Baba didn’t need to know a single thing.
We finally reached the temple.
It was the highest point on the hill so we were able to see all of Jaipur and a couple of eagles soaring above it. Evvie even found stairs that led to the temple’s roof. We all climbed up with her and observed the city.
A scenery that was colorful and loud at the same time. Red gates, honks, blue houses, birds, green roads, monkeys.
Grey clouds were approaching. It only started to rain as we were leaving the temple.
The monkeys were delighted. They started drinking water from the puddles that were forming on the ground. Nick, Talal and I grabbed candies and ran outside the temple. We started feeding the monkeys under the rain. Sometimes, I held the candy a bit too high so I watch the little ones jump and grab the treat in mid-air. Whenever a “big guy” came close, I just handed it the candy. It would nonchalantly snatch it, look into my eyes for a second and then walk away. Talal wore his jacket over his backpack, Nick didn’t care much about the rain, I was running side to side, with candy refills and wet hair. By the time it stopped raining, we were soaked.
But feeding the monkeys under the rain is so far my favorite moment in India.
The paved road back to the entrance was slippery but we made it. We lost our Uber and the tuk-tuks were a tough bargain, much worse than the tuk-tuk pimp from Mansarovar.
“Lama, tell them about Meead’s yes, no, yes, no”
Ok so Meead walked up to one of the tuk-tuks. You already know she’s from Oman even though she gives off an Indian vibe. The driver started chatting in Hindi, talking numbers. I think that his offer was around 400 rupees – the Uber ride didn’t even cost a hundred.
“No, bahia, no”
“Yes, very good deal I give you”
“No bahia. One-fifty maximum. Very good deal”
The driver looked elsewhere
“Come on, bahia. Take the deal. Yes? No? Yes? No?” she asked as she pointed out her index whenever she said no. You needed to be there to laugh at this but whenever one of us Babylonians bring this up, we can’t stop laughing.
We pretended to walk away from one and ended up walking almost one kilometer. It started to rain again so we took shelter in a roofless little stone building. Smart.
The tuk-tuk found us, gave us an ok rate and took us back to home, Babylon. I made hot chocolate and Nick made pasta with green chili and soy sauce.
He didn’t add vinegar this time.