First published at: http://audiocompass.in/jaipur-here-i-am-again/
I’ve always liked Jaipur. I have been there more than five times but it’s never enough to discover the pink city.
My last visit was more than four years ago, and in those days I lugged around an old Sony hand-me-down camera. My memories of the city? Rather ‘pixelated’! Over time, the photographs changed folders, then computers and now are sitting hidden in my external hard drive – almost forgotten. When a chance came to visit Jaipur, I grabbed it with both my hands and a big grin on my face!
This time armed with a new camera-phone and a DSLR I landed at 7.30am. In the hazy light of a monsoon morning, with an almost-but-not-quite rain for company, I made my way to my hotel Jai Niwas. This hotel is set in an old bungalow, and I quickly fell in love with my spacious garden-facing room with a blue block-print bed-cover. For me, that is the blue of Jaipur! Yes, it’s called the pink city, but I associate Jaipur with its famous blue pottery…
After freshening up, armed with an alu-paratha-stuffed stomach, an all-weather camera bag, a fully charged phone, my bottle of water, sturdy shoes and a raincoat, I headed out to re-discover the city. I walked down MI Road; this is a long road that would take me from my hotel right up to the walled city. I assumed it would be a plain ol’ road that was famous for its length and not its look! But MI Road has a charm that only a road in Jaipur can have.
It was lined with old buildings on either side. These are not the old British buildings I tend to associate with Mumbai, but Indian buildings which have that decorative look about them with the wooden windows, carved doors and elegant facades. There are large pavements running along, with some parts covered to protect the pedestrians from the harsh desert sun.
I turned into Ajmeri gate and entered the walls of the pink city, and right from that moment, I got sucked in – all over again!
The reddish-pink walls & domes that caught my eye at every corner and the cycle rickshaw-walas parked at street corners inviting me to take a ride. The roads lined with simple & beautiful old-buildings followed by the carved splendour of the Mubarak Mahal. The short pols, tall pols, wide pols and narrows pols – those many gates lining the side of the road all inviting me in. The tall and lonely Isar Lat that gave me a sweeping view of the entire city. The neat and planned roads stacked next to each other and lined with temples and never-ending bazaars breathing down each other’s necks. And the people in the loud tuk-tuks and buses with the non-stop horns… the cacophony of it all and that huge cow who decided to plonk herself in the middle of the road.
As I walked along and drank in the city, I heard the drums and music in the distance, I got closer to Badi Chaupar and saw a procession, with drums, people dancing and leading the entire lot, a decked up elephant…
…. and I joined in the celebration!