It was on the way to a certain desert festival that I was brought to a dusty old town called Jodhpur. And it was at this dusty old town that I initiated my ascent into Rajasthan. A small town, a relatively quiet town and oh-so-strangely Slow, Jodhpur eased me into Rajasthani living in a way that eventually seemed sly. There were no worries, there was no work, all I really had to do was wait for some ridiculous source of activity to emerge from a very busy construction site. But that was a concern for the future and the sight that beheld me as I got off the train from Ahmedabad was an issue that required a slightly exaggerated priority. With two days to Jaisalmer my challenge was to make the most of Jodhpur and I believed it imperative that this challenge be sincerely dealt with.
An early morning made way for preparations that were necessary for the smooth flow of eventualities that were to see the day. Water, camera, sunglasses. Check. The Mehrangarh Fort became the first “Tourist-y” thing that I experienced as a consequence of the day and I was surprised at how disarming its magnificence would be. Perched atop a hill that overlooks the fine cluster of blue and white which is decidedly Jodhpur City, with the blue houses stressed enough to demarcate the living quarters of the Holy Brahmins, the fort stretches out in utter generosity and helps as an eager local guide would. It tells the story of how a city was built, it speaks of numerous grandeurs that the Maharajas had been accustomed to. From Palkis to Fans, from swords to paint brushes, the mental imagery that had started formulating within the hidden crevices of my head took me to an era of decades past. With the poor as poor as they can be and the royalty as haughty, it didn’t seem like that much of a change, except maybe the intense environmental degradation that this town has witnessed. From Rajas on horses to Rajas on Bentleys, the royal family has pioneered a number of initiations that have rendered the state a whole lot more fame than a lot of other Indian States. Right from their military accomplishments to their advocacy of the riches their culture had imbibed, these Rajasthani princes have done a brilliant job in keeping their own monarchy alive.
In any case, the life that suddenly and astonishingly made itself appear to me at the fort was an uncalculated, completely coincidental accident. Bright orange, yellow, red and green adorned every archway in the fort and as much as I sought an explanation to these strange happenings I was met by only vague answers involving a singer, or maybe a model, a rich man and a girlfriend. And thus I realized, it was my job to put two and two together and news about Naomi Campbell’s Russian Billionaire boyfriend’s Birthday celebrations finally surfaced. With clarity slowly trekking its way to the right side of my brain, I ascertained the scenario to be one of those lucky recreations of the past. A festival that marked an influx of joy, saw as much enthusiasm as it did in the years that had come and gone already, and the birthday of this millionaire saw no less. I joked with the staff at the fort about throwing a party as lavish as this, and I was surprised to see their faith in this unprovoked dream. In unquestioning trust they assured me of the fateful day. I’d have to make a really generous donation to Mehrangarh to hold it even for an hour, I am just hoping I get the “Indian” price for it.
A peaceful day was thus spent ideally in a hidden archway at the fort where I did me some “people watching” and of course some very touristy picture clicking. Engulfed in a sea of commercialism, Mehrangarh was unable to deliver every aspect of its old school idea, but one cannot really complain. That was all I would really get out of Mehrangarh and I was glad that I caught a glimpse of its fading semblance, if only I had a time machine. Sigh.