>Nothing too exciting happened this afternoon, unless you count multiple brushes with death to be of interest. The one road that leads from Agra to Jaipur is currently under construction. There are sharp turns and one lane going each way at multiple points. Pavement is too generous a term for large stretches of road. We saw the remains of a nasty bus crash. This did not stop Bus Driver from creating a middle lane. The number of times I thought that we'd have a head on collision with another bus or truck was exceptional.

In the midst of all this, I decided that it would be a very efficient use of my time if I put the memory card into my computer and downloaded my pictures for safekeeping and labeled them. Unfortunately, while I was highlighting the pictures I wanted to copy, the bus hit a bump and the sensitive mouse pad selected "delete" and that was the end of three days worth of pictures.

Normally, I'd freak out, but there is nothing normal about this trip. I calmly asked Ray's friend John, who is an IT expert, if anything can be done. At first, he thought not, so I just accepted it for what it was and figured I could get pictures from Ray and the other fantastic people who are on this trip. (See? I don't hate everyone! In fact, there are many people that I have come to utterly adore and I am getting very upset that the trip is almost over and I will not get to continue spending my days with them.) Then he thought that he could download some software and revive them. Whew.

We finally pulled into Jaipur around 5:00 pm. The initial entry into the city is much like everything else we have seen in India thus far. Lots of interesting historic buildings, housing that looks like it should be condemned, and homeless people everywhere. Traffic of all sorts is over the top. However, as we drove through Jaipur more, it seemed more and more like European cities. It is a place that I can understand a lot better than the other places we have been thus far. In fact, I have seen many more women in public and they often are dressed in western clothes. There was even a billboard advertising scooters that blared that everyone who bought one would be entered into a contest to win a date with some Bollywood hunk.

Fearless Leader, our tour guide, will not leave me the fuck alone now. First, he tried to catch me not listening to him by asking me what our plans were after he announced them. I recited them all back, and he was obviously disappointed.

"You need only say something once for us to understand what is going on," I said cheerfully. "Eight times is excessive and people lose focus."

"Ehhhhhehheeh," he laughed. Of course, I wasn't joking. I truly hate him.

After dinner, I tried out my new phrase on Bus Driver (whose name I would like to learn) and Mr. Singh, bus driver's apprentice. (He always looks so sad, it breaks my heart. Someone said he just got married 9 months ago and his wife lives far away and he only gets to see her once a month. It kills me.) I said my usual, "Phir melege" (see ya!), but added "mira doost" (my friend) to the end. They seemed especially delighted. Tomorrow morning, I hope to try out a phrase that I think means, "It's good to see you," although I fear it may actually mean "It's nice to meet you." I also learned how to introduce myself, so maybe I will start that way and then say my new phrase and it won't sound entirely stupid if I did get it wrong.

Tomorrow is what may be the pinnacle of the trip – an elephant ride to the Amber Fort! (Maybe my elephant will crush Fearless Leader. Or at least fart on him. Dr. P and Dr. H once witnessed an elephant fart at the San Diego Zoo and it was a deadly, albeit hilarious, experience.) Hurray!

Comment