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Published: March 7th 2016
We leave Deogarh Mahal and set off through the village to find the road to Jodhpur. We spend fifteen minutes trying to get out of the village as a farmer appears to have parked his tractor and trailer in the middle of the tiny lane and gone off to breakfast or to strike a deal or somesuch. Everyone trying to use the lane is annoyed but there is no choice but to back out and find another route. “These local people very stupid” mutters the driver.
Anyway we are now away and driving through the Aravali hills. We reach the single track road we have to follow for fifty miles to reach the highway to Jodhpur. The country is – as is often the case – flat and arid, punctuated by flame of the forest trees with their brilliant red blooms. The fields now either grow wheat or nothing. The occasional farmers walk down the road going to who knows where. A camel is grazing in a field. A boy drives a few goats along the road. We pass yet another eviscerated dead dog that did not move quickly enough out of the way of a passing truck. We see
yet another “victory arch”. People put up a crude arch, built a big wall around a big plot of land and then abandon it. We have no idea what they have in mind but we have seen dozens of these things.
We hit the highway eventually and speed up. Eventually we reach Jodhpur city and our Taj hotel and agree we will meet Pramod the driver again at 4pm to go to the Sardar bazaar. After a few hours of idleness at the hotel we set off. The bazaar is built near the clock tower built by the British around the turn of the 20th
century. We have been here on a previous trip but after the last few weeks in villages and small towns we had forgotten the madness of a city. “Many pickpockets bad people be careful” counsels our driver. We dive in to the bazaar. Here in tight little lanes they sell everything an Indian needs for daily existence. Fabrics, knick knacks, vegetables, flour spices, stuff generally.....you forget the overwhelming press of Indian humanity in a real market until you are thrust back into it. And underfoot.....rubbish in India is often not distinct items.
It is a mush of animal, vegetable and man made detritus crushed under tyres and a million feet into a sort of sludgy mess. And the stench, oh dear, the stench. There is an indescribable “ponk” that sometimes assails you.......not wee or poo (whether animal or human, both of which you get to experience) but something else.....you have to get the whiff into your nostrils to believe such a ponk could exist. We press on, noting two gentlemen pissing against a telegraph pole as they chat away about who knows what as people march past. A man who is completely covered in white powder is busy crushing lentils to make lentil flour in his big grinding machine and then selling it by the sack full. We some women clad all in white and with face masks and some have bags over their hands. They are Jains, they wear the mask so as not to risk breathing in insects and killing them – all life is sacred to a Jain. Our camera shutters click endlessly trying to capture this scene of frantic human endeavour as the sweat rolls off us in the enclosed spaces. A cow wanders down the alley and
craps in front of us. Watch your step Sara you are wearing your open-toed sandals!
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