Jaipur: Jal Mahal, the Boardwalk, the Zoo, Rambagh Palace and Time

Good morning everyone,

Let’s get right to it.  The zoo – closed.  Rambagh Palace – a hotel with guest only access.  No pictures, sorry.  But instead we have Jal Mahal, which is a beautiful Palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur, with an even better story.

Several years ago this lake was filled with toxic silt from effluent (sewage) which was killing everything, including the fragile wetland environment that used to support a variety of fish and birds.  The government of Rajasthan dredged 2.5 million cubic metres of the toxic silt from the lake bed, reducing the lake levels to their normal state.  They then built five nesting islands to encourage migratory birds to return to the lake and worked to restore the wetlands environment.  A water treatment plant was installed and local fish and flora were reintroduced to the area.  They also restored the palace, which has five floors altogether, four of them below the water line when the lake is full.  A garden was built on the top terrace of the palace and the original paintings and plaster work inside were restored.

You can visit the palace and its gardens on boats but these were not available when I was there.

I haven’t been able to find out if this palace was intentionally built in the water or if something happened and it flooded.  I expect it was intentionally built where it is since the restoration project has to return to original materials which were designed to keep water out.

There is a dam that created the lake but it’s been there since 1596 or so and I don’t know whether it predates the Palace or not.  No-one I was able to ask seemed to know either.

It was just as much fun for me though to walk along the long, curved boardwalk and watch all of the various birds enjoying the lake – herons, plovers, kingfishers and others I couldn’t identify (where’s a naturalist when you need one?).  If the herons and kingfishers are here, that also means that there is a good supply of fish in the lake, though I didn’t spot any.

As you can see from the pictures, people are (unbelievably after the recent restoration project) just tossing their garbage onto the shore of the lake.  Part of the reason for this is that there is a lack of any garbage cans on the boardwalk.  The boardwalk is long, at least 1.5 km and in all that space, I saw maybe three garbage cans.

The boardwalk was a nice walk.  It was Republic Day so it was quite crowded but there was lots for people to do.  There was even a man who had little motorized cars for children to ride for a few rupees.  It was nice to see the little ones having so much fun.  There is also tons of street food and camel and elephant rides available from the boardwalk.

Okay, so on to the secondary topic for today.  Time.  Time is different here than at home in so many ways.  First, it somehow moves slower.  I feel like I’ve been here a year but it’s really only been three months.  Each days seems to have more hours in it and I feel like I am able to do more in a day than at home.

Time is also used differently here.  More time is spent with family, more time making and eating meals, more time talking to people in the shops you go to, more time spent having tea.  Traffic moves fairly slowly and so does work.  No one rushes to walk somewhere here.

Time is also treated differently here.  It runs on what I’ve come to call Indian time.  If someone says they will meet you around two p.m., they actually mean something more like “2 p.m. or thereabout, maybe an hour later, maybe two hours later or maybe the following day.”  People just aren’t concerned about time here and for that reason, it also moves slower.

At home, I feel like I spend most of my time at work, or decompressing after work, or talking about work.  I have less time at home and it moves so much faster.  Every New Year’s Day I’m shocked at how fast the previous year has gone by and I know that the new year will go by even faster.

I get anxious if things aren’t done on time at home, if I’m late for something or if the clock is ticking down to some deadline or other.

I feel like I have little time for family and friends, for making and eating meals (though I am in the habit of making a big meal for people once or twice a month), I rush in and out of shops and I have no idea who works in them or bother to talk to them really.

I have no time to read, little time to pray (and I pray three times a day), and little time to write.  I just feel like it’s a race to get by – a race that goes full tilt until retirement.  And yet this is what we call a good life.

Well, it’s not a good life.  The point of life is not to earn for the tax man, for the mortgage, for the bills, for everyone else until you drop from exhaustion, always trying to keep afloat.  That’s not a good life.

A good life includes time.  Not the tiny bits we get here and there but real time.  We’ve bought into this idea that we should make time on those all important weekends (I’m a lawyer – which of my lawyer friends can do that?) and occasional evenings and be satisfied with that.  So we wait – for those three days weekends, for that vacation time (that many of us don’t use) and for retirement.  We have all kinds of plans for what we’ll do with THAT time.

The reason that is flying at home because we’re spending it like there’s never going to be an end to it.

But why should we wait until later to own our time?  How many of us are going to see retirement?  What if we don’t?  Who do we owe all the time between now and then to?  The answer, I think, is we owe that time to ourselves and our families, our friends and our passions.

So what will I do with that new wisdom?  Not sure yet but something for sure – stay tuned.

More forts in Jaipur in the next post.  Until then,

Peace and love all,

PS Today’s bonus picture is an elephant’s butt.  I had to see if for an hour in traffic, so I thought I would share.  😉


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