A very early wake-up call at 6:30 got us on an early start to get to the Amber Fort before the crowds got there so we could ride an elephant up the mountain to the fort. Unfortunately, the crowds beat us to it - it was like Disney World with the long lines, and touristy-ness of the whole, including a photographer who took pictures of you on the elephant ride and then tried to sell them to you at the end. Plan B was to take a Jeep to the fort and ride an elephant down instead, but they did not do the rides down for the elephant's sake. We toured the Amber Fort, including the harem quarters (no big deal), went back down again by Jeep to the elephant stables for our rides. They have a tall platform you climb so you can then walk onto the "saddle", called a howdah, Two people fit on one howdah, so we we rode up and down the street, being careful of electric wires again. It was fun and very high up! Our elephant's name was "Lercherine", according to the mahout, and was 35 years old. She was very decorated with paint to look festive.
We then drove in the bus back down near the city of Jaipur, and went for a walk in the countryside which was very hard walking, like on a dry, very sandy beach. We were pursued by a boy with a baby goat in his arms, the goat mother chasing after him, and his own mother running along in the distance yelling at him! We had some rest and a drink at a very elegant polo club, where they play elephant polo, which we all wished we could have seen in action.
Then we were off to a wonderful shop. First we were shown how they make hand block-printed fabric, and Anne got to try it out! Later, we were each given a square with that print on it to take with us. Then we watched the rug weavers at work, as well as the spinners of lambswool. They use a knotting technique on the rug looms that is somehow a figure-eight and is different from the method used in Morocco. They told us that about 600 families were involved in making the rugs, with a different pattern for each family - we hope not child labor, but I would not doubt it. Of course, the next step was to visit the showroom! They offered us rum(!) or tea to grease our pocketbooks, and showed us many sumptuous rugs, some of wool and others of silk. They were all exquisite, especially the silk, and not too expensive by American standards, with free shipping included. We had a yen for a small silk rug to go in front of the sunroom sofa at home, so we found one small enough and amazingly packable! The next stop in this emporium was the fabric portion, where we had a sari-tying and turban-tying demonstration - be sure to check out the photo of Tom in his turban - he looks pretty authentic with his beard. Anne then headed upstairs and before she knew what was happening (not really), she had selected some gorgeous red raw silk fabric and a dress in a book of "patterns" (they don't use patterns) and was measured for the dress. It was to be done and delivered to the hotel by 9:00 PM! This was followed by lunch at an Indian restaurant. We were quite shopped out by then, and headed back to the hotel for a quiet evening.
The quiet evening was a good respite, and we all dined on our own at the hotel. During dinner, one of the attendants came over to our table and announced that the people from the fabric shop were in the lobby with the dress, so we ran out to the lobby and they opened the package and showed us the dress. Anne really could not try it on then, but when we returned to our room, she did, and it really is gorgeous, and fits very well - see photo! Wow - how exciting to have a custom-made dress, and so quickly!
By the way, on our enforced Indian Weight Loss Diet, we have each lost about ten pounds in four and a half weeks! Anne hopes it will stay off, while Tom would like a little of his back.