As we drove along the main highway of India, there were tiny villages flashing by the wondows of the motorcoach–a string of stucco buildings: a snack shop, a home, a snack shop, a souvenir stand, a snack shop. Then a group of people wrapped up in shawls around a small fire; a man cutting across a lot by an abandoned building; dogs; cows; chickens; more people; more fires. Then, the bus started climbing, and to the right were hills, and to the left were red-washed buildings. Off to the north, crowning a mountain, stood the Amber Fort, and walking out of the darkness were painted elephants. The air was cold, and everybody was wearing sweaters and sweatshirts. We arrived at our hotel, and there were men outside the gate, sitting around a fire. Inside the gate was the Hotel Umaid Mahal, every inch of which is painted with flowers and peacocks and gilded.
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