Rajasthan Diaries/ 2: Pink City

So we were in Jaipur. The pink city. Although the entire Jaipur is not painted in pink, only a certain portion. Our hotel was situated outside the pink city, a little far from the town centre. We were basically living in the middle of a Rajasthani neighbourhood, surrounded by small two-storey houses with nameplates adorned with images of various gods. Morning time was quite chilly as we stepped out of our hotel looking for an auto to take us to the pink city. We had hardly slept at night and our bodies were still swaying from our overnight journey. But the spirit was high and we were all dressed up.

Our first stop was the city palace. I am not a communist, I am rather a hardcore rightist but I couldn’t help feeling outrageous when the bored looking staff at the ticket counter told me that a special tour in the royal apartment would cost two thousand bucks per person. Well, as if the royal family was already not rich enough. D and I both thought that we could put that two thousand rupees into better use (The roadside shops were already alluring us.) and only opted for a normal tour. That cost us 130 rupees per person. The moment we entered the premises of the palace one guy with camera caught us and made us stand in front of a giant cutout of the palace and started taking our pictures. Printout of each picture cost 250 rupees by the way. Communism sucks, but it’s not hard to guess what had driven people into it after all. The tour of city palace turned out to be a snooze-fest. Signs of extravaganza of the kings and queens were on display everywhere. Everything at the gift shop and the artisan’s gallery was so unfairly overpriced that we couldn’t help but cringe. Wondering about the history of the palace and the dynasty? Well I tried to keep up, not for my sake but for the sake of my blog. But after about half an hour I was where I had started. The only name I was aware of was Rajmata Gayatri Devi. You may not know squat about the history of Rajasthan but you must be aware of this lady’s name. And by god, how beautiful was she! Historians may debate over the existence of Padmini of Chittor but there’s no debate over Gayatri Devi and her ethereal beauty. Every single photo I came across of her during the trip, I had to stop and have a second look.

After the sheer disappointment by City Palace we wanted to go see Jantar Mantar which was right across the street. But on the same street there was something else; something more fascinating and powerful than an ancient observatory. Shops. And we got distracted. We told each other it wouldn’t take more than half an hour but time is a lost concept when we shop. It was past 1.30 in the afternoon when my bag was full of some junk jewelleries and D was carrying her new pair of mojris and we realized we were indeed famished and we hadn’t have breakfast that day which had started to make us feel dizzy.

We were in Rajasthan so we opted for plain Rajsathani thalis. Daal, baati, churma with paneer curry, aloo dum, papad and kheer. Everything was drenched in ghee and I had my second food orgasm the moment I tasted the churma. I was floating in the air. D was complaining about the heaviness of the food but I was in another world. I ate my share of churma and then gobbled on D’s leftover. I have a 28 inches waist and I live in the fucking mountains. I don’t care about the over-consumption of ghee. I love it!

Until or unless you eat the local food you don’t become one with a new place. I think that process was complete when we stepped outside of the restaurant and headed for our next stop, that is Hawa Mahal. I was already in love with Jaipur. I had never felt the India vibe anywhere before. Everything about Jaipur was intoxicating for me. The crazy crowd, the no-signal traffic, the Hindi signs outside shops, the vegetarian food, the hustle and bustle, and last but not the least factor which I would tell you guys later. I was feeling like an Indian. A true Indian.

Hawa Mahal sits right at the centre of the pink city. It looks like the solitary but proud member of the city standing erect amidst the hustle and bustle. The vicinity of it was so crowded and covered in shops that we had a hard time finding its entrance. Not to mention we had got distracted again. This time it was silver jewellery shopping.

Hawa Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 mainly for the ladies of the royal household so that they could watch the festivities going on the street through the ‘jharokhas’ or the little windows. We are modern women with no shame or restrictions and yet we found it mandatory to be looking out of the window in order to get that perfect Instagram shot. And we clicked like a millions of them. Had we been with the guys they would have pushed us right out of the jharokhas. But hey, we are best friends and that too with similar obsessions. So we happily obliged for each other.

To be continued

Read the other episodes here.