I stand and watch as Maike browses through a stack of big sized post cards. We were at this little souvenir shop at the Amer Fort. "This one's for mum...this for Jeroen..." she picks and chooses around 6 cards, "...and this for me."
"For you?" I asked, slightly intrigued. I understand buying post cards as souvenirs for friends and family. But she's already here, and she has taken enough pictures of every conceivable place. Then why a postcard with a generic photo of one of the Jaipur monuments?
"Yes," she said, with this flicker of a smile. "Whenever I go to some place, I like to get a post card there for me. I write little notes on what I did and how I felt in that place, and send it to my address in Holland, before leaving that place. That way, it reaches my home before I do. And I find this pretty post card in my mail box, which again reminds me of the wonderful experiences I had there. A good nostalgia, you know? It makes me happy." She turns and goes to the billing counter. And I stand there, smiling to myself, marvelling at the odds of meeting such an old school romantic like me, while travelling alone in an unknown city. When you put yourself out there, life does put your kind of people on your path.
I was on my first solo trip to Jaipur, and had met Maike, a solo traveller from Netherlands, at the hostel [Zostel] I was staying in. 30 minutes into our conversation, she told me about this auto driver who had offered to drive her to the forts and I decided to join her. We met Ali [the auto driver] at around 10 in the morning, a few steps away from our hostel. He was a jovial little guy, who warmly welcomed the both of us in his auto - unlike some other drivers who scowl at the sight of an Indian with their foreigner passenger. And off we went. Throughout the way, Ali was enthusiastically recounting little tid-bits about various parts of the city.
Stop 1: Amer Fort (Amber Fort)