Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p21) - Hathi Gaon of Jaipur
Man and A BeastHathi Gaon, Jaipur
the plan was to meet at the lobby at 3pm. but then, we had a long hours - the journey, the visit to both Mahals etc. and we ended up dragging ourselves for a break longer than planned, plus with a cozy lunch at the hotel's cafe. kak ros messaged us telling that our guide that had arrived for a while, already asleep, waiting for us. hehehe.
anyway, travelling on a tourist bus somehow made me clueless if people asked me the details of my whereabout. like the hotel itself which located a bit further from the city centre itself as the journey from Hawa Mahal earlier took a while. ok...honestly, i am no longer recall what is the name of the hotel.
we gathered at the lobby and then made our move once everybody readied. our destination for that late afternoon - Hathi Gaon of Jaipur, or the elephant village. Syib and the guide gave us a short briefing about the place, which is a small village that set up by the local government to give proper shelter and water facilities to all the families of Mahouts and their elephants that served tourists in and around Amer Fort during the day. the best time to visit the place is during the late afternoon i.e after 4pm etc. , as the mahouts and their elephants would be back from the fort.
a short ride from our hotel, and we finally arrived at the village. amusingly, despite the hype that i was expecting as ready from the rarecation brochure, as well as Syib and the guide explanation, the only visitors during that afternoon was our group. perhaps, it was a low season thingy? or the place already lost its vibe as a major attraction in Jaipur?
the bus was parked next to the pool that been used to bath the elephant. but we saw no elephant, yet. perhaps we were still early. we decided to walk further to the village, and was greeted by the kids of the mahouts. obviously, they were excited as seeing us coming. but that was actually with a cost!
well...everybody started to memograph, as the kids with their charm always made a good subject. then after a while, we started to hear them, mainly the elders asking for money for tips of their photo being taken. like seriously? at that age...they were already being consumed and lived with such. that early incident was still bearable to me, and some of us kind enough to give them small change.
but it was a big mistake, as it propagates like an anthem to most of them. we tried another approach, like Abg Mie that went to the shop owned by one the families there, and bought a box of chocolate and then distributed among the group. well...it worked for a while as it distracted them from keep chanting the 'where's my money' song.
but then, it was still a fun moment for most of us. i mean, the kids, other than their persistent in asking for the money, but was a joy to be entertained as other than money and chocolate, being photographed was also exciting for them. to hear them laughed, and joining us for the we-fie took off the disappointment of the 'commercialism bug' that bitten them, which bothered us earlier.
ok.we arrived at one of the mahout's house, and was greeted by a guy that told us that we can take photo with his elephant.
the photo-shoot turned out to be for a while, since that was the only elephant and mahout pair that we encountered, after wandering around the village for a while. the mahout seemed kind and accommodating, with us asking him to pose from any possible angle.
so we thought.
as we were about to leave, and discussing about giving him some tips...he suddenly spoke of the 'where's my money' anthem and guess what, the rate that he quoted - 500 rupee per person, firmly. again, that incident stunned me...but we objected the request...as it was ridiculous!...imagine..how much he'd get if 11 of us gave him such money? we finally agreed to give him 100 rupee per person...and that added up to 1100 rupee, which was big enough for a 'tip'.
by the time we walked back to our bus, we saw another mahout just came back from somewhere riding to the shelter. but then, we had lost our excitement already, with all the incident we had earlier.
we walked towards the pool, and saw no elephants were brought to take the bath etc. ok...all the imagination on how this place could've been, no longer there. ah..it was more fun to visit our own elephant sanctuary!
well...the visit perhaps among my least favorites throughout this trip. the incident of everybody - the mahouts, the kids' - asking for money, by that much...really taken out the joy from the equation. perhaps, they were used to the big tips from the rich and generous tourists that visiting the place. the expectation that i'd be seeing a lot of elephants, with their mahouts decorating them, or even bathing them...was not even in there.
so the verdict? you can skip the place.
we left the place, and back to the hotel, passing the other side of city of Jaipur, where we could see the breathtaking Amer / Amber Fort that we'd be visiting on the next day. it was dark already by the time we arrived at our hotel, and we had dinner at the hotel's cafe.