Playing with Fate

Do you believe in fate? I now do, or at least the interception at some points in our lives from forces beyond our control...

I had landed in Jaipur in a haze. My over-night train screeched to a halt at 7 o'clock in the morning and the sun was just coming up over the already-bustling "pink" desert city. I instantly felt sick in the crowd of rickshaw drivers that swamped me for a ride, hoping to rip off the gora during the ride. Feeling ill and annoyed from the rikshaw driver following me, I caved and did something I never would have usually done; I took him up on his offer. "Take me to a cheap hotel, 200 rupees per night, close to station”.

The request was filled, but what I had gained in speedy service, I paid for in the worst 2 days I had in India. The two men, the rik driver and his friend, stalked me. They followed me into the restaurant and ate with me, wanted to drive me places I didn’t necessarily want to go, followed me into establishments, called me incessantly, and, as I found later, were telling anyone who could hear that I was their girlfriend. During those two days, I was taken to establishments where I was overcharged 3X the amount of gifts, slept in a hostel that had me fearing for my life and security each night, and felt trapped the entire time.

During one visit to the Amber Fort, I was asked by two Quebecers to take their photo. I asked of them the same. Chance encounter.

On the way down from the fort, I remembered the Tiger Fort- I needed to go because when else would I have a chance to watch the sunset? I asked the driver to turn around and take me to Tiger Fort. “No, no. Not possible, too far. We go tomorrow?” That’s not how it works in India- you give the directions and money, and they follow, else it’s disrespectful on their part. “I am going up there. If not with you, with someone else. Now.” I had stuck up for myself and was breaking free.

The two Quebecers were at the very top of the fort, overlooking the pink city below, currently bespeckled with pinpoints of light from the windows. Blaring Hindi music cut into the twilight, matched by the drifting laughs of children, singing from a festival, and the pounding of drums. That night was crucial. As my new companions and I sped through the night streets, after I had garnered the courage to tell the matachods to fuck off with no fear of the stalking to follow the next day, I made up my mind. I would cancel tomorrow’s ticket to Jodhpur and stay in Jaipur for a few more days, and commit myself to leave the city feeling good about it, rather than the sinking sour feeling I had at the time.

The following days were perfect. I did exactly what I wanted to do, stayed exactly where I wanted to stay, and felt free once again. I had no idea the coincidental events that were to come.

I met three more Quebecers the following night and they shared the Jodhpur hotel name where they had stayed and had an excellent time. “Make sure you ask for the not strong bang lassies!” were their parting words.

I arrived at Yogi’s guesthouse with no expectations, as per usual in India. I was pleasantly surprised, and found myself drawn to the camel trek that was offered. I wouldn’t have gone at the time, rather traveled to Jaisalmer, if not for the desert wedding incorporated into the trek.

The two Dutch guys and I left on the third day from that desert because of complications in planning and compensation. We arrived late into Jodhpur, couldn’t find a rickshaw (when does that ever happen?) finally managed to grab hold of one, literally, and asked to be taken to a hotel that cost 200 rs or less per night. The rickshaw screeched to a halt and I was out on the street. A guy stood in front of me, “Can I help you? I am a tour guide, practicing my English.” Right, at midnight, you just happen to be out practicing your English. I didn’t know then the special relationship I would have with this guy and his friends, and especially his brother. I was shown my room, I liked it.

After moving all of my belongings into the room, which meant one backpack and a handbag, I was out on the balcony for a smoke and chill before bed. I met a guy named Gucci and clicked instantaneously. I was sweaty, hadn’t bathed for three days, hadn’t washed my hair in god knows how long, and was sucking on a cigarette like an old hag, and this guy looked at me like I was the goddess Aphrodite.

The days that followed contain some of the happiest memories of my life.

If I hadn’t had that awful experience and met two people that encouraged me and put me onto the right path; if I hadn’t decided to stay in Jaipur for that extra few days; if there wasn’t a wedding that tempted me to go camel trekking and if Yogi hadn’t fucked us over, resulting in an early return back to the city; if our rickshaw driver decided to take us to a different hotel; if Sam hadn’t been standing outside of my rickshaw when I emerged…if all of these circumstances didn’t match up, then I would have missed such happiness and experience.

I now reflect on those Jodhpur days as pivotal. I opened up; something that had been reserved and feared by me now emerged with such ease. I learned once again how to love, to trust, but most important of all, I discovered a new wonder for life and an inspiration that I am certain will follow me for the rest of my life.

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