Bombay, Jodhpur and Pushkar

Two weeks in India, over 80 hours of travel on planes, cars, boats, and tuk tuks, 5 cities, and a few cases of Delhi belly, all with a 4 and 6 year old in tow, is an experience that can leave you at a loss for words. I had the best intentions to write down my thoughts as we traveled, but I found myself fully immersed in the experience instead. Now that we’re home, I’m excited to reflect back on our trip and share some of the details with you. Because we covered so much ground, I figured that I’d break it up into the first week of our trip, where we visited Bombay (and celebrated Holi!), Jodhpur and Pushkar, and the second week, Jaipur and Varanasi. Yep, all that in two weeks! Our time in Bombay was mainly spent seeing friends, celebrating Holi and recovering from jet lag. It was really tough with the kids. They would take a nap at around noon, simply because they couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer, and then sleep through until about 2am. I’ll admit to having a bit of a freak-out on the third day, wondering if we’d made a big mistake taking the kids on such a long journey across the word. Finally, on our fourth day, I had to get tough and make them stay awake the entire day. Luckily, it was the day we celebrated Holi, and they had spent the best afternoon soaking each other and everyone else with waterguns and colored powder! They were exhausted at just the right time. They went to bed at 7pm and slept through until the morning. From that morning on, we were good to go! And just in time for our second stop, Jodhpur, the blue city! When we first arrived in Jodhpur, I was confused and slightly panicked… where was all the blue? I kept asking my husband, “Ask the driver, where is the blue?” Come to find out, there is a new section of town and an old section of town. The sprawling new section contains very little blue, while the old, narrow, winding section of town is where you’ll find the famous blue. Cars can’t really maneuver in the old section, though motorcycles, tuk tuks, cows, bikes, dogs and people all share the space. To really see the blue buildings, you have to set off on foot and wander through the streets and alleys. On our first night of wandering, we happened upon RAAS Hotel, an oasis in the middle of the crowded chaos. I will never forget the crisp glass of white wine I enjoyed on their rooftop lounge, overlooking the Mehrangarh Fort with the sounds of horns and revving motorcycle engines in the distance. It was one of those perfect travel moments, and I can still taste that first chilled sip of wine. The next morning we set out to explore the Fort, as well as Jaswant Thada. Of the two, Jaswant Thada was my favorite. That might be due to the fact that my husband fell on the slippery marble floors at the fort. Why they were wet mopping the floors during peak tour hours, I have no idea (you can’t apply logic when traveling in India). His ankle swelled right up and continued to bother him for the rest of the trip. He never once complained, but I know it was really uncomfortable for him. I’ll pause for a moment here and tell you that while this all looks very dreamy, the reality was our kids were tired and they weren’t super into exploring forts and such. India is difficult with children, especially those that are used to open space and the freedom to run and play. I found myself saying no and careful every other breath because of fear of zooming cars, crowded streets and parking lots, and general chaos. We would usually take a 3-4 hour outing in the morning and spend the rest of the day at the hotel pool, where the kids could run, play and burn off energy. It looks like we covered a ton of ground, and we did, and our kids were absolute champs, but we really had to pace ourselves in order to make the experience enjoyable for them. And I think our strategy worked, because when we neared the end of our trip, my son said, “Mama, I’m not ready to leave India.” We originally planned to spend two more days in Jodhpur, but it is actually a small town that can easily be seen in a few days. So we decided to drive to Jaipur, stopping in Pushkar along the way. It was a six hour drive and the scenery was spectacular. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it!) the boys were sleeping on our laps for most of the ride, meaning I couldn’t jump out of the car and capture all the photographic moments. And there were so many. We passed dusty villages where the women were at work carrying water and crops on their heads, dressed in brightly colored saris. We passed bright yellow fields of mustard plant that stretched as far as the eye could see. One day I will make this drive at my leisure and stop a hundred times to capture these moments. We made it to Pushkar just in time to visit the Brahma Temple, the only one in India. Pushkar is a desert town that borders Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu site containing 52 ghats (stairways) where pilgrims bathe. After our puja (a prayer ritual) we had a vegetarian lunch – the entire town, because of its holiness, is vegetarian- and the freshly made, hot off the fire roti smothered in ghee, made for the most delicious meal. Another two hours and we arrived in Jaipur, which is where I’ll pick up later this week. I know many of you had questions about our itinerary, and how to travel India with kids. I am happy to answer any questions you have, so please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get right back to you. Also, I managed to sneak in some amazing shopping, so my pop-up shop will be launching this Friday, March 31 at 10am EST. Stay tuned for a sneak peek of some of the goods on my next post!

Your thoughts on “Bombay, Jodhpur and Pushkar

  1. Oh this country!!! These photographs just make me miss it so much and although I know so much must have changed since I was there, it looks just the same. They are SUCH beautiful images Christine!!! It’s a place that challenges you in every way isn’t it?! Yet seeps deep within your heart. I honestly do not understand my connection to India but it has been within me long before I even travelled there, which I suppose is why it was my very first overseas destination. I’ve often thought about how my kids would go as I really want to take them… it’s a tricky one. I know when we travelled through Thailand for a month, Evie had just turned 6 and Noah was 4 and during the trip I felt so tired and strung out because the kids were, um, well to be honest, they were kind of nightmares! Meltdown central!!! We had to make a lot of adjustments because the heat during the day was just too much for them. Add in the sensory cultural overload and they were just sooo tired and fragile for the whole trip. We thought they hated it, but from the moment we returned, and still now, they talk about it all the time and just today I had to get our passports out to check something and was showing them theirs with their stamps and they both started begging me to go again. They have very fond memories and I’m constantly surprised by how much they actually do remember. I think travel will get easier as they get older.

    Was it harder this time around than when the boys were younger? What I think is so gorgeous are the photos you have of them during their first trip and now this one. This one they will remember, and those memories will be wonderful. In 6 months they will be talking about which hotel had their favourite pool and you can be sure they will talk forever about Holi! Oh man, that looks like such insane crazy fun! How on earth did you ever wash it all out, eeep 😉 As for the mopping of stairs during peak time, and marble too… urgh! How right you are, you can’t apply logic when in India! How’s his ankle now? Ouch! And I gotta ask… did you step in any cow paddies? I did, I had done so well for the entire trip then right as I was hopping into the car to go to the airport, splat! I did my best to wash my shoe in the toilet at Delhi airport with many many locals wondering what on earth the crazy foreigner was doing. I really did not want to be hopping onto that long haul flight with poo on my shoe, haha still makes me laugh. On that note, time for bed. Can’t wait for the next installment xoxox ps/ welcome home!!

    1. Oh Xan, everything you said is so true. India is a place that challenges you in every way, and yet it works its way into the very strings of your heart. It is a tricky one with kids, but I have to say, the boys did an amazing job adjusting and taking it all in. The first four days were challenging due to jetlag, and we definitely didn’t get to do every single thing we wanted, we really had to pace ourselves and make sure the boys were rested, well fed and had plenty of time to run free at the hotel. But they really embraced the experience. We did stay in nice hotels…I am not brave enough to try India on a shoestring budget with kids. I definitely had concerns about keeping them healthy (meaning clean water and food, clean safe hotels, etc.). I think having a comfy landing place at the end of every day helped their stamina.

      In a way it was harder this time around because the boys were more vocal and independent and really had demands of their own. When we were in India last time, they were so little that they just went along with our itinerary. This time, they had their own thoughts and ideas about how they wanted to spend their time. But the cool part was that they were so aware of their surroundings and had so many questions. It really led to some interesting conversations. I feel like they got so much more out of this trip, due to their awareness!

      And oh my gosh- cow patties were the least of my concerns…on our last day in Varanasi and man projectile vomited in the middle of the street and it splashed on my foot. I was SO SO horrified. I went home and showered for like 2 hours. That’s when I was like…and I’m done. Take me home! 😉 Now I can laugh about it, but at the time I was so disgusted (even though Vijay was cracking up). And thank you for asking about his ankle- it is healing and he is doing some physical therapy. Poor guy. Oh India…logic does not apply indeed.

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