A week long city-hopping across Rajasthan has brought me to Jodhpur, a city of its own. From the narrow lanes to towering Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur has left me with deep impressions. Throughout the travel, my friend was giving the best shots to shake off my morning blahs, but in vain. It takes time for me to break into the day and take forms of pleasantries for the outside world. Maybe this is why friends observe me as an evening person. Well, I think I am my own person, remote and shut for mornings and open and chilled for evenings. That’s a weird way to describe everyday life; it’s like slicing down my world into chambers of day and night. No one can function that way!
The view of the blue city from the fort turns out beautiful when complimented by shades of the sky. And like anywhere else the fort museum failed to amuse me. Our museums really need to start telling us stories than putting histories on display. I would rather walk miles around the ghats in Pushkar, than staring miserably at riches of some royal family and shuffling from glass case to glass case! But then, those tiny colourful window panes, winding metal stairways and those heavy windows protruding from walls never fail to catch my glance. I have got a thing with windows, there is no single time I never wanted to stare away through one. Well, got to agree with J. Kintz that a window is indeed more entertaining than TV!
The walk up and down the lanes of the blue city is one thing which will always stay in my Rajasthan diaries. Gallis like these reminds me of how possible it is to stay close and never connect (excuse the random reflections from own-world!), but what is the fun in seeing what everyone see. We couldn’t spot many local people in gallis. I should come back one day just to watch how days pass in those narrow lanes. Maybe they have a different concept of home. Maybe not for everyone home is a feeling. Maybe for my blue city dwellers home is just a stone wall, a place to eat and sleep. Passing by most of the dwelling I didn’t feel they stay at home all day, holds true even for women. Unlike many ladies back my place, they aren’t at least home guards all their life. Towards the north and west of our country I have seen more women out on the street, earning a living, engaging more in public spaces, than in the south. At most of the places we visited the folk singers were families, mostly a man, the lady and kid. And come on, I am not here for any ethnography, so this vent may or may not be certain, but this is how mind travels the way foot takes it.
One reason there weren’t many people in gallis was the eid-i-milad procession. I have only read on papers about how grand these processions are in north and west of India. Seeing these different milad celebrations, I wondered back at home we don’t even come close to their decibels! Songs praising Prophet Mohammed remixed with trance!!! What do one call this? Cultural fusing? One can write a lot about the political and spiritual correctness of these events. But who are we talking about? Who are we to impose our lens and perspectives to view a practice completely new and strange to us? Isn’t it very easy to label them as ‘shirk’ (idolatry) and allege ‘their Islam is different’? Isn’t the real effort in contextualising practices and experiences than always trying to weighing it against your beliefs?
The best moment in Jodhpur was not about this city, it was about another place, miles and miles away. Lost in the shades of Umaid Bhavan I knew I have had enough of these blue and pink cities, and it was time to catch some snow covered mountains in a bright full moon night. Next day in Jaipur I was rushing to catch my train to the first ever city I fell for three years back. To gaze at your bits of winter in Gulmarg, to feel the pale chinar and fading autumn, I was on the move again…