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5 hours of travel pandemonium and I am in Jaipur. The mood has changed. This is the Capital of Rajahstan and it feels modern and vibrant. My hotel is a chic boutique that wouldn’t be out of place in Soho.
Over a lunch of Indian tomato soup and small puff pastries with feta and thyme, the hospitality manager sits with me and chats to me. I found out quite quickly that she has fled from her family in West Bengal as they were going to get her married and, on her refusal, threatened to kill her. She is building a new life here – starting off living in a hostel she has learned almost perfect English. She has educated herself by reading Shakespeare plays and learning the hospitality trade. WOW.
This girl CAN takes on a totally different dimension here. She wants to travel to Europe but is broke and on Indian wages it will take her a long time I suspect to save up. There is something about her – determined, savvy and hard working – I show her the British Council website in the hope that it might have some exchange or sponsored work opportunities.
The conversation turns back to my day. She shares my humour – I ask if it is OK in Jaipur to wear a dress with bare legs (I’m hot!) she says “Madam it’s OK to wear a burka in Jaipur!” I will oblige.