Tuesday 16:00 to 12:00
My laptop a Dell latitude d630 refused to behave so I was in a crises before the trip began. A dash to the office had resulted in my being able to grab the Dele driver disks. I should have grabbed the Windows XP disk too but as you will see later, the disk would have only provided psychological support. I was hoping to reinstall my screen reader in the car but that did not happen since the laptop did not recognize my usb drive. There I was traveling towards Jaipur at about 95 kmph and feverishly trying to uninstall the generic usb root hub. I tried downloading NVDA but that was too much for my gprs connection.
Giving up on my laptop, I then switched onWayfinder Access and plotted a direct course to the Royal Ensign. This is where I was staying. Horrors! WFA kept telling me that I was offtrack! I then plotted a root to Jaipur alone and things smoothened out. As before, I was amaized by the number of petrol pumps on the highway.
We reached Jaipur without incident where I plotted a course to the Royal Ensign again. This time it worked though the human taxi driver got confused at statue circle and took the wrong exit from the round about. Once that had been rectified we reached the Royal Ensign without incident.
Now came the crucial moment. I finally deleted all the generic usb root hub devices and rebooted the laptop. Oh joy! the devices reinstalled themselves and my usb drive was recognized! I installed Jaws For Windows and proceeded with product activation. It was fortunate that my employer was billed by the cab company according to the distance travelled and not according to the number of passengers since my old friend merfy was with me. My boss would not have appreciated the increased bill and explaining Merfy has always been tricky. I was out of product activations so had to make a quick ISD call to Freedom Scientific technical support. My thanks to Jenifer at Freedom Scientific for not getting flustered with my dropping mobile phone connection. It took 3 calls thanks to that dratted connection to get my activations renewed. After that things went easily. I let the laptop update overnight since I had to be at the client’s location by 10:30 the next morning.
Wednesday 0430 to 10:30
I woke early and found to my intense relief and joy that windows update had finished. The best part of it was that I had downloaded 82.5 MB on a GPRS connection!
Offices in Jaipur start by 10:30 and as far as I know, nothing will induce anyone to start earlier. My work turned out to be significantly more complex and involved a number of conference calls. Fortunately, all the participants were in the same time zone.
My colleague and I then had a quick byte at the Mcdonalds, took our bags and began moving towards Jodhpur.
Wednesday 16:00 to 12:00
Jodhpur is about a 5 hour drive from Jaipur. The seenary is unremarkable and in any case, it was too dark to see anything much. The highway is not lighted so the only source of illumination is the headlights of passing vehicles. Wayfinder Access worked as expected for the first part of the journey. Then, the phone signal became patchy and that was that. I switched to using Loadstone. This program is especially designed to be accessible. It uses free map data and does not have routing capabilities so you do not get turn-by-turn directions. It was at this stage that I realized with a shock how much the taxi driver and my sited colleague had become dependant on my naviggation. The taxi driver kept asking me after every few kilometers whether we were on the right track. The highway was deserted and the darkness and irratic driving of the few vehicles we did pass added to our or rather my colleague’s sense of aprehension. I was too busy checking our heading and navigating. I had found Jodhpur on the free map and by comparing it’s heading to our currentt heading, I was able to verify that we were indeed moving in the right direction. My special thanks to Cearbhall O Meadhra for converting my map data into loadstone format! We would not have reached Jodhpur without this data.
My introduction to Newtons Manor was a stomach clenching stab of fear since my colleague exclaimed at a live cat that was sitting near my room! I can’t stand animals moving around me or touching me without my consent! On top of that, I could hear what I took to be a species of lizzard and the kitchen and the guesthouse was not fully airconditioned. That was to be expected since we were using budget hotels. However, my fears were soon dispelled by the friendly care taker who explained that the cat was a stuffed animal. On top of that, he arranged for an extension chord so that I could charge my laptop, cellular phone and GPS receiver! I have been to billion dollar companies where getting an extension chord seems to be even tougher than achieving the next impossible target!
The owner came to meet us and ensured that we were comfortable. The room was spick and span and the food was excellent. It was almost like home cooked food so none of that heavy oil or extra spices.
Thursday 05:00 to 10:30
After checking my e-mail I decided to bathe. The problem was that I did not know how to access the hot water. Hotels vary on the ways this is done. Some places have water heaters installed in the wash rooms while others have a central heater. The washroom was well lit so I was able to use the vOICe to scan the walls for the heater or at least for a switch. No more groping. My search was fruitless. The heating was centralized so all I had to do was turn on the hot water tap.
Breakfast with guests
Getting to the dining room was another challenge. We had arrived the previous night and had had to cross through the kitchen to get to the dining room. My colleague was still asleep so I decided to essay the task all alone. Voices in conversation soon brought me to the table without any fancy navigation. I did not need to cross the kitchen. I was not given any time to ponder over this mystery since I was greeted by a cheery french voice! The guests were a group of French Canadian and American tourists out to experience the golden triangle of India namely Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Breakfast consisted of juice, cookies, tost and an egg served in a glass. Conversation flowed, one’s neurons were stinulated and by far, this was the best part of the trip.
Travel schedules and work commitments intervened as they usually do and we moved to our respective destinations after exchanging e-mail addresses.
The innerds of Nuton’s Manner
Nuton’s Manner is run like a large paying guest accommodation. The owner and his family sleep in the establishment. The guesthouse has been setup to resemble a victorian manner with genuin antique furniture. My favorite exhibit was a stuffed Siberian tiger. See the below images.
On the rocks
We had lunch at a restaurant called “On The Rocks.” This does not refer to a brand of alcoholic beverage nor do they serve alcoholic beverages there as far as I know. The place was setup with rocks and trees to give a forest like look. The restaurant’s management have gone too far though since the outside eating area is littered with dogs sleeping in the sun and a few stray cats. The food is superb though and if you are not paranoid of animals, you must check it out. There is seating inside too so that is the option I will choose in my next visit.
Thursday 14:30 to 21:00
We now setout for Udaipur. The road wound through the Aravalli mountains which made for some spectacular seenary. The most exciting part came when my colleague wanted to take a photograph of a rock formation. A lone monkey was doing sentry duty on that part of the road or so we thought. As soon as she got out of the car, low and behold, about 30 monkeys came loaping towards her! She almost did a backflip into the car and we were off!
The hotel in Udaipur was a gross disappointment. The only saving grace was that it was clean. The food was terrible and the service indifferent.
Friday 04:45 to 12:00
The hotel was the highest structure in that part of Udaipur. See the snapshot of Udaipur that I took from the terrace of the hotel.
Also, see the ladder I had to climb to take the above photograph.
We then imbarked on the final stage of the trip which was a 13.5 hour car ride including the time taken to fix a flat tire. I now appreciate why highways have so many petrol pumps. The one we got to to get our tire fixed had an old air filling pump. It was a little too dirty to touch and my hand sanitizer was almost finished but the vOICe helped again.
I reached home around 02:30 and after a hot bath was in bed.