Monday, 22 February 2010

A Zimbabwean in Jaipur

It was 9am and I was sat on the rooftop of Sunder Palace overlooking the city of Jaipur. I’d just put my order in for fresh coffee and a banana pancake when the guy on the table next to me turned round and thanked me for the inspiration to have a pancake for breakfast.

Gavin Warner is a Zimbabwean who lives in South Africa and is an actor by trade. We started chatting and didn’t stop for three hours. Having not spoken to someone who could speak English fluently for some time, it was a great relief to have a good old chin wag. In the time we spoke we’d discussed the ins and outs of Indian culture, the terrible dress sense of tourists in India, apartheid, Gavin’s play, my thoughts on a career change and the problems associated with African politics.

Two pots of coffee later and I was fully relieved of the loneliness that had crept up on me the day before. Gavin and I arranged to head out for dinner in the evening to a restaurant that he’d found the night before that served up great tandoori chicken then I headed off to take a look at the shopping malls of Jaipur. I’d decided to take a day off from temples and forts and had decided that a little retail therapy was in order.

From my short tour of the shopping malls, I came to the conclusion that, unlike the west, clothing stores here are primarily catered to the needs of men. There were surprisingly few shops for women yet many jeans, shirt and sports shops for men.

That evening I chomped away happily on the best tandoori chicken I’d had in my whole time in India; unfortunately, there was no chance of a beer or glass of wine to go with it. As Gavin quite rightly pointed out, it’s virtually impossible to enjoy a beer or wine with a meat dish in India: the only restaurants in which you are likely to find beer are Hindu owned vegetarian establishments, whilst the places that serve meat are usually Muslim owned and don’t serve alcohol. Either way, the number of licensed places is surprisingly so if you do order a beer it may be a clandestine beer that arrives in a teapot.

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