JAIPUR, Rajasthan— After a short 45 minute flight, our bus driver and his assistant from Delhi met us at the Jaipur airport. The desert landscape — short shrubs, rocky terrain, dry and dusty soil — became visible as we ventured to Sanganer, a village close to Jaipur.
Sanganer is known for its handmade paper industry and pottery, and first on our touring list was a handmade paper manufacturer. From the actual paper making where two men lift a strainer through loose pulp to create the paper to the folding of paper bags and boxes at incredible speeds, the workers did everything by hand except grinding the recycled paper into pulp and pressing the paper.
After our tour, we visited a handmade pottery producer where we witnessed the making of the famous Jaipur blue pottery from molding to firing to selling.
As we made our way to Jaipur proper, the arching gates of the city welcomed us, and the distinct muddied-pink sandstone buildings appeared. The desert city is known as the Pink City as the Maharaja (a title for an Indian king) of Jaipur ordered the city painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales during his visit to Jaipur in 1876.
Outside our hotel in the middle of the lake was the Jal Mahal, or “Water Palace.” Built by the Maharaja in the eighteenth century, the fifth story of the palace is visible while four more stories sit beneath the water level.
This evening, we explored Jaipur’s bazaars. Personal selling was on full display and would have made any marketing professor proud. Except, this type of selling was so aggressive that it warded off most Western travelers who prefer a shopping experience without several sellers hounding them. The stores with set prices received most of our tour group’s money. If you do decide to bargain with Indian street side vendors, the go-to mathematical formula and acting are to ask for 25% of the asking price, shake your head at their rebuttal price, and walk away. The vendors will come running and make a…