Editor’s Note: Acclaimed Seattle-based children’s rock band The Not-Its! is one of the musical headliners for Buddy Daddy Family Bash, a three-day event billed as India’s first-ever live family-entertainment festival. Guitarist Danny Adamson is sending us reports on bringing their brand of American “kindie” music to this new audience and his experience introducing his family to a new culture. The festival is now over, and he and a bandmate are exploring India with their families. To catch up with the story, read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.
By Danny Adamson
It’s Tuesday, Nov. 17, and today we are scheduled to tour Jaipur’s Amber Fort and something called Jantar Mantar, the world’s largest sun dial.
We finish breakfast at our hotel and our new guide, Naval, meets us there. He’s a nice fellow and refers to Jaipur as “Jaipur City,” which we think sounds funny. Seattle City? Has a nice ring to it … OK, maybe not.
First stop is the Amber Fort, which has many significant historical points like the king who lived there and had 14 wives at the same time. Our bus pulled up down below the fort because we had to take jeeps up to the top due to the small, twisty roads not fit for our bus. First two things we saw were someone riding an elephant and a freakin’ snake charmer. Yes, we saw a dude charming a cobra! To take pictures, we had to tip the guy and Tom actually touched the snake’s head. Then we squeezed into two old jeeps and crawled up the mountain. It really felt like an Indiana Jones movie. I seriously expected the large, sword swinging man in a turban to jump out and have Dr. Jones pull out the gun and shoot him down. As our guide gives us his spiel in the entrance courtyard, Michael loses his breakfast in a garbage can. The first one to get sick (foreshadowing?) with “Delhi belly.” He takes a cab back to the hotel so the rest of us can continue with the sights of the day. We eat sandwiches on the bus en route to the next stop.
Next stop, The Shakedown — parts 2 and 3. During these “shakedowns,” our guide would take us to local, hidden storefronts or artisan shops that were not shops we would have been able to find if we were touring around on our own. There were no signs or any way to really tell what was in said building. So the three shops we went to were:
1) A marble shop where you could buy cutting boards or vases with inlaid jewels, similar to what was seen in the walls of Taj Mahal.
2) A textile shop where they sold rugs, scarves, bedspreads and clothing with traditional Indian patterns.
3) A jewelry shop.
At each of these shops, we were met by a man who would welcome us and show us front line artisan workers (who honestly looked like slaves who made $1 a day) who were crafting what was sold at each shop. They sat in the entrance and you could see them as you walked in, whether you sat through the presentation or not. At the marble shop, there were four dirty men, sitting on the floor, etching out holes in marble and sanding down jewels to fit in the etched holes. The well-dressed man presenting the song and dance, told us that one piece took 20 labor hours to make, another took 40 hours, etc. At the textile shop, the next well dressed man showed us an old man stamping patterns on bedspreads, then a woman hand tying camel hair onto a rug. He told us how many weeks the rugs took to make. The jewel shop presentation was literally the same as the two before. After each presentation we were then sent into a show room (let’s call it a “closing room”) where the finished products were on display for purchase. Of course there is no real way for us to know, but our best guess is that there is no way the stuff we were being offered was hand crafted, that perhaps that was how it was originally done and that nowadays there must be machines that created everything they were trying to sell us. It wasn’t super high pressure and we were not forced to buy anything, so I don’t want to make them sound too evil. The two points making me call it a shakedown were:
- We didn’t even ask to go see the marble shop — and our guy’s tour of Taj Mahal was very geared toward the inlaid jewels that we would later find at the shop he would take us to (but we did ask to see textiles and jewelry), and
- We are convinced that our guides must be getting a kickback on anything we purchased at these shops or restaurants because, like I said, these were not shops a tourist would just stumble across.
So we did our shopping and headed to Jantar Mantar, home of the world’s largest sundial and some very mind blowing astrological tools. There were a few different sized sun dials, the largest of which, even though built hundreds of years ago, is accurate to actual time within 2 seconds! There were other structures to tell astrological signs based on where the sun hit them and a few other insanely cool things. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and Jantar Mantar wouldn’t have been half as cool without him. This was one of our favorite stops on our touring spree. Jaipur City is amazing!
We made it back to the hotel in time for a nice dinner together, without Michael, and hit the sack to rest up for the next day.
The next installment of the Not-Its! tales from India will appear tomorrow on the National At-Home Dads Network.