Breakfast is the same as yesterday. We check out and are picked up, along with our luggage by a delightful young lady named Jyoti. She had driven us in the cart last evening and she says we make her laugh and remind us of her parents. She is from Luknow and moved to Jaipur as part of her Oberoi training one year ago. We make a point of commending her in our hotel evaluation and speak to the hotel manager about her qualities.
Our first stop of the day is the City Palace where the current Maharanee lives. Part of it is open to the public and we take our usual self-guided tour after the usual 400 rupee admission.
Leaving City Palace we go to the Rambagh Palace Hotel where we plan to get a noon time libation. We are directed to the dining room as it is just before noon. We do not want to order the one price for all meal and talk the waiter into two strawberry milk shakes for, ultimately, 1,050 rupees ($21). Very expensive milkshakes; but good!!
Rishi has offered to take us to a textile store he knows of and, since he has been such a good driver, we let him do so. This is a case where he will get some commission on anything we happen to buy. Here we see the block printing technique demonstrated in a rough form and Carolyn ultimately purchases a hand painted, silk pillow cover for $30US.
We now head out for our 200+km drive back to Delhi. At first the road is fairly good and the terrain reminds Dick of some areas in the Hill Country of Texas. We make good time as long as the road quality holds out. At one point on our drive, we are in an area of divided highway with a fairly high berm that has been planted so it is difficult to see the traffic heading the opposite direction. All of a sudden, as we are in the lane nearest the berm, a donkey leaps into the road in front of us from the median. Rishi brakes hard and swerves to the left missing the suicidal animal by a foot or so. He just laughs and says it is not uncommon and one reason he never takes his eyes off the road.
Further along, as we transit a small town, we note dozens of trucks alongside the road with wheels off, hoods open, etc. We ask what is going on and Rishi points out the rude shacks and small buildings back from the road. He tells us this is a repair and parts center and the trucks are undergoing repairs or maintenance. Let us point out that most of the trucks are simply stopped in the left most lane of the highway, effectively reducing it to one useable lane heading our way.
As we stop and go through one town, with highway construction making everything all the worse, we are forced to stop by a procession of men, some carrying bundles of sticks or brush, as they pass across the road and up into the highway construction area. Rishi says this is a funeral procession escorting the deceased to the traditional cremation area for this community. It is men only as women are not allowed to participate. We wonder what the rules are if the deceased is a woman but do not ask.
Another time, we come upon a WIDE LOAD of heavy machinery on a laboring truck. The road is already narrow and this truck is taking it all. We follow him for some distance before we can get around. We try to explain wide load permits and escort vehicles to Rishi but the concept does not take and we move on down the road.
After the longest drive of the trip...at least it seemed that way as the road was very rough and there was constant stop and go, we arrive at the Oberoi Gurgaon, a beautiful modern oasis near the Delhi airport. Once again we enter through guarded gates and are treated like royalty as we enter the hotel. We find we have been upgraded to a fabulous three room suite. It is beautiful...too bad we will only have one night to enjoy it.
We are tired of traveling, so we get cleaned up and go to the bar for a cocktail and then walk around the hotel’s nice up scale shopping mall. Carolyn finds a small enameled sterling silver box to add to our collection from around the world and we head back to the room.
Once again we order a room service dinner of club sandwiches...the ones we have enjoyed so much of the trip. Well, these are huge served on big slices of focaccia bread. We can’t do them justice, but enjoy the nice bottle of red wine that was a gift of the hotel and eat what we can.
We are flying FinAir back to Amsterdam tomorrow. Dick checked in on line and found that the carry on weight limit is much less than what we are used to in Business Class. Not knowing how strict the check in will be, Carolyn spends time repacking so we hopefully will not have any surprises in the morning at check in. Satisfied that the luggage is ready to go we fall into bed.