Monday, March 28, 2011

Jaipur Once Again...(Elephant Polo Photos, too!)

It's a good thing we like Jaipur so much.  The first annual R-10 Deloitte PPD (Partner Principal Director) Retreat was scheduled to be there and we were definitely going to be there as well  !!  Not only was this a chance to return to this wonderful city...but Suzanne has been wanting to go to the Silver Spurs Equestrian Stables since before we even fully decided that we were coming to live in India!!

This time we would fly direct and non-stop to Jaipur...and not have to endure the torture of an 8-hour drive from New Delhi.  The flight was pleasant enough (more on the return flight later in this post!) - both taking off and arriving right on time.  We decided to go a full day early and spend two extra days after the actual retreat for some horse activities...so - this was as much a "mini-vacation" as it was a business trip.

The Deloitte Retreat was to be at the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel ...one of the Taj group of hotels, so - you have to know that it has to be a special place...  We arrived at the hotel and just sort of unwound a bit...saw the bar and partook of its wares.  The pool was too far away to go to, but it was very pretty.  The grounds of the hotel were spacious...it had a walking/running track, lots of open spaces...a giant, life-sized chess board (that was set up wrongways...I had to explain this to the manager!!) and - - a huge grass field for...of all things:  ELEPHANT POLO!!!

That's right... on the morning of the first day of the retreat...there was a group of tourists taking one of those fancy five-star trains around the Golden Triangle...and one of their events was to play elephant polo on the spacious grounds of the Jai Mahal Palace!!  We got to go down and "inside the ropes" (it helped to look like the Euro-tourists...we never got asked for our tickets!!) and pet the elephants and a big old camel named "Raju"...  Amy Francis was thrilled, to say the least.  She wanted to actually get on one of the elephants and play some polo - but - I think that's where the tour-guides from the train company drew the line!!  THAT was to be for paying customers only.

Pay we did, actually....we bought a ton of "Jaipur Polo Club" gear...while we were shopping at the makeshift souvenir stand set up by the polo club...one of the Deloitte partners from Hyderabad - Wally W. (he affectionately calls me "Stuart" because of a misprint in a local Hyderabad magazine a few months back!) cracked me up.... his wife was trying on a "Jaipur Elephant Polo" fleece vest and I said it looked "cute" on her...

Wally said to me: "Gee, 'Stuart'....we don't need any help spending my money here!!" 

The polo was fun to watch...albeit really SLOW as you can imagine...elephants don't exactly "gallop" to the ball! 

After polo...the Partner/Director Retreat started so I lost my wife for a few hours.  I had made an appointment in advance via e-mail (what a small world this has become....Jesus never got more than 100 miles from his home-town!!) to meet with the fellow who sold us our rugs last time we were in Jaipur...so - he sent a car around to get me and I got to indulge in some serious shopping. 

Here are photos of Day One (and part of Day Two) in Jaipur (including the Elephants!!) on our Facebook Photo Album Page

The evening came and we were treated to a festival-style dinner with Rajasthani dancing girls with pots of fire on their heads, brightly-painted elephants (see photo of ASB and one of them at the top of this page!) and decorated camels...a great spread of Indian foodstuffs and an open bar...what's not to love about that!!  The feast was at the Rambagh Palace Hotel....truly a hotel beyond anything I have ever seen before.  We were so taken by the place that we got a tour...and - - when we inquired about pricing for the next two nights...we decided against staying there...we'd have to take a second-mortgage out on our house!!  What a palace, though!!  I also need to mention that it was COLD....really, really cold!!  1-degree C. (about 34-degrees F.) - - the first time I have been cold since we arrived in India!!

The next day found Amy Suzanne back in retreat meetings and I killed time around Jaipur...

That night was another dinner...this one was truly strange...

A long long long bus-ride was taken to a place I'd have to say was like a Disneyland version of a Rajasthani "village"...it was called the Chokhi Dhani Resort - and - well....it was interesting, to say the least.  Dinner was served "ethnic style" sitting on the floor and eating God-only-knows what.  Had this been our first week in India...I would not have touched anything on my plate...but - I've gotten to be pretty adventurous...even Amy ate most of hers...

Maybe I'm not supposed to say anything....but, evidently some of the other partners did not think it was all that hot because some took cabs out of there almost as soon as we arrived... and the hotel restaurant was packed when we finally got back to our rooms!

The best way to describe what it was like is to show our photos from our Facebook album: Jaipur Part Two

As you can see from those photos....the next day was spent out at the Silver Spurs Equestrian Stables where Amy was able to get her show-jumping on.  She had such a great day...and I had a great time watching her!!  The place will have a bed and breakfast soon (if they don't already!) and we will certainly be back!!

The next day she rode again and we got to bed early so we could make the 06:30 A.M. flight back to Hyderabad.  Needless to say...I'm the one who like to get to the airport early and Amy has learned that it's better to give-in and go along with me.  Unfortunately...this day there was a ton of ground-fog and the flights were all delayed up to three hours!!!  Amy was not well-pleased...but she found a way to make herself comfortable and got some much needed Zzzzzzz's.  See photo below:
















Anyway....we made it back to Hyderabad and all was well...another amazing trip to Jaipur...we will be back, that is for certain!!!

Next up....Falaknuma Palace and our new Bluegrass Band..."The Banjara Hillbillies"!!

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