The adjustment from Majkhali to Jaipur was surprisingly difficult to manage. In my last Yak, I said that I had more gratitude for my surroundings but in my week in Jaipur, I found that gratitude was gradually fading to the back of my mind. Living in the tourist adda (अड्डा) of Jaipur, my surroundings encapsulated materialism. It reminded me of the lessons that Mohammad at Sambhaavnaa taught—the externalization of our every need. Eating food in hotels and rooftop restaurants lacked the closeness that I felt sitting in a kitchen with fire flickering in front of me. I became used to the immediate hot showers and the use of a faucet. I don’t necessarily think that this externalization will disappear, especially back when I come back to the States, but I’m glad that I’m at least recognizing this entire process now.
In Jaipur, I saw an almost completely opposite part of India: the developed, polished urban capital of Rajasthan. I love exploring new cities, and the history of the Pink City was a delight to see. Coming from a country not even two-hundred-fifty years old, seeing beautiful palaces and forts that have withstood thousands of years of wear-and-tear, natural disasters and radical political developments was a glimpse not just into Rajasthani history but Indian culture and its tenacity to withstand and adapt to whatever newfangled ruler or religion or technology came its way.
Speaking of technology, as a prospective STEM major, Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh II’s Jantar Mantar was a sight to behold: nineteen astronomical instruments dating back hundreds of years still working to tell time, predicting eclipses, and measuring the location of celestial bodies. I often forget that people all over the world for millennia have been contributing to humanity’s incessant desire to understand the far and unknown, especially since I had never been taught about non-Western scientific developments in my education. I now realize that our Princeton professor James Peebles would never have been able to explain our universe’s composition (and win the Nobel Prize in Physics!!) without the centuries’ long sharing of knowledge between civilizations. These small glimpses into the history of India inspire me because they show me that everyone, though their existences ephemeral, contribute to that collective human story, something I hope to add to as well.