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Published: November 12th 2006
I had never even heard of Jodphur until i saw it on an episode of "The Amazing Race." In the episode couples had to scurry around its streets, run up its hills, and end in the fort that looms powerfully over the city. One glimpse of that foreboding structure proudly rising from a jumble of blue buildings and i said to myself, "I wanna go there....."
So here i am, almost 2 years later from the airing of that episode and i am happy to have followed through. Jodphur is awesome. It is an extraordinary explosion of sensory stimuli, mostly visual. There is the aforementioned fort that towers over the city, there are saris brighter than anywhere else i've seen in india, and the part of town in which we're staying is painted in brilliant shades of blue.
We are staying at the "Cozy Guesthouse," a name that is befitting---it really is cozy. Our room has sheets that look clean. It's painted bright blue as well, with equally bright purple curtains to match. There are Rajasthani textiles hanging on the wall and hip furniture. Our rooftop restaurant is a great place to chill out. It's also
blue. There are cushions on the floor for lounging, colored mirrored lamps, good music, and it boasts a fantastic view of the fort and surrounding old city. Looking down from our porch, the old city is a dizzying jumble of square shaped houses that cling to the hillsides like crooked legos. It delights my eyes immensely to scan the horizon and see varying colors of azure, cobalt, indigo, lilac, sapphire, and ultramarine.....they're all represented and shining rebeliously against the heat of midday. In such a barren desert landscape, these buildings scatter like man made flowers, and i'm reminded of my brief stay in the greek islands.
In many ways, the city reminds me of Jerusalem. On a basic level, there's the obvious similarity of having an "old city." In our portion of the old city, there are no cars (motorcycles though) and the buildings all have an antique look about them. There is a clocktower in the center of the old city that is sort of its commercial pulse. Around the tower markets spread about selling everything from incense to saris, vegetables to shampoos. The reason i'm reminded so much of jerusalem i think primarily has to do with
smell. Since we've lodged ourselves further into the desert, many of the same spices grace the stalls. There are pleasant whiffs of cinnamon, cardamom, anise, and ginger.....and the incense smells like the same stuff they burn in the church of the holy sepulchre. As wrong as it may be to constantly be judging my world by comparison, these happy reminders of whiling my days away reading on the grecian islands and wandering aimlessly down the Armenian souqs in Israel immediately boost my affinity for the place. Plus there's just something novel about reading on a rooftop while an impending ancient fort rises above you and a vibrant blue city spreads out below. It's freaking great.
Max is prone to complain about the heat, but i am happy because it lacks humidity. So to me, although it is hot by my standards, it beats sweating my imaginary balls off in calcutta and shivering in a coat in Darjeeling. The shopping here is also fantastic. This place is kind of a hub for antiques dealers, so i had a wonderful time perusing the wares at various stores yesterday. Most of the things are way out of my budget range (for example
a wooden panel that costs 9,000 US dollars, or a little silver box at 100 US dollars) but it was fun to meander among relics of an older india. I found a gem of a purchase in my price range, but i'll let you all see it when i get back.
And i'd like to end with a random little story about something i witnessed yesterday that made me laugh really hard. Max and i were walking back to our hotel and we passed another tourist that was totting around one of those big cameras that often make me jealous. He was sort of haphazardly looking about him, marvelling at the architecture and no doubt seeking out a good photo opportunity. While he was lost in the pleasantries above him, his foot landed in a HUGE pile of cow crap. As soon as he felt the "squish" the first thing to come out of his mouth was, "AW SHIT!" On a literal level, what a perfect thing to say at his misfortune right? It gave me a good chuckle.
I often pull the same sort of thing when i'm walking, especially here where the sidewalks seem to have
all experienced earthquakes of varying points on the richter scale. It's an easy thing to do to get lost in all the chaos and beauty happening around you and to forget to mind where you step and watch where you're going. It brings to mind an Ani Difranco lyric that i've always loved that seems appropriate to that type of situation and to life in general:
"When i look around, i think THIS, this is good enough,
and i try to laugh at whatever life brings.
But when i look down, i just miss all the good stuff.
When i look up, i just trip over things."
I like it here. The people are friendly. I'm sad that we're leaving tomorrow night. Now that we've got less than 2 weeks to go i can feel that i'm beginning to drag my feet. I'm reluctant to let go of the every day drama that transpires here and meanwhile trying to take it all in before i have to. This afternoon Max and i are actually going inside the fort that we've been staring at the past few days. I'm sure there will be a
blog to follow before we depart.
So we went up to the fort and that was cool. Jodphur really does spread a great distance. We had dinner at a garden restaurant and i broke my vegetarianism and ate some yummy lamb. mmmmmmmm. There was live music and traditional dance.
Something flew in my eye yesterday and i think it's infected. It's all red and it hurts to blink. I'm going to miss this place with all of its color. It's been great.
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