Notes From Jodhpur, India

My guest-blogging friend Nobuko shares her travel experience with us. With love, from India
Jodhpur- The Blue City
It is called the Blue City, because many houses are painted blue. Reportedly, the blue color repels mosquitoes as well. I arrived by bus from Jaisalmer, a journey that supposedly takes four hours, but as always it took longer, more like 5.5 hours.
Along the route, a woman boarded. She had herself covered in a sari, but I could see her features occasionally when the sunlight shone on her. She was strikingly beautiful! I wanted to take her picture, but I could not find a way to be discreet about it, because she was also staring at me, too!  Maybe she did not know that I was looking at her since I had sunglasses on…

Once, dropped off outside the city proper of Jodhpur, I was in a dreadful anticipation of the inevitable rickshaw madness which awaited me. I think it is a kind of initiation or Right of Passage before I am allowed to enter a new city each time I arrive. I am getting better at haggling, or so I thought. I played a hard game by ignoring quotes of 80 to 100 rupees and sticking to my gun; 40 rupees.

And eventually, I found a guy willing to take me for 40 rupees.  In my mind I did this “Yes!” motion of making a fist and pulling the elbow back by bending my arm like seen during sports events when our team scores – you know what I am talking about?  But this prick dropped me off 3 km from my destination!  Since my hostel was located off the main road, I did not know that I was so far from the destination. Meandering around the street, I was helped by kind passerbys who not only got me another rickshaw, but also negotiated the rate on my behalf.
Cosy Guest House, tucked away by narrow winding lanes and leading up to a hill, became my temporary home in Jodhpur. It has a magnificent view of the Fort and its West Gate. At the hostel, I ran into Thomas and Adrian whom I had met in Jaisalmer. They were off to a three-day camel ride in Jaisalmer – which I thought was insane – but they returned one day early due to its intolerable heat. The tour companies should not sell safaris that lasts more than two days during the summer, unless they send along an emergency aid team.
The three of us went to the Fort via the West Gate. This Fort had never been taken over by any enemies and it is the pride of Jodhpur. The path to the entrance was dotted by musicians dressed in traditional attires and playing traditional folk music. I tell you, it is so captivating to hear the music at an old historic site – it can trance you back in time and make you want to twirl around and sway your head as well.
I particularly liked a guy playing a string instrument called Ravanhatta. He let me play it. It is like a violin, but you have to keep the bow taut by pressing the thumb on it while playing, which made it dificult to produce a pleasing sound. Check out if you want – doesn’t it just make you want to spin round and round?:
The museum inside was actually very nice with extensive information explaining each item on exhibit. It was 300 R for a foreigner, but the cost includes the audio guide as well, which usually can run 80 R. The most impressionable and a bit creepy sight was the handprints left on the wall by court women, who had to die in Sati (funeral practice in which widowed women immolated themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre) as they left the fort gate for the last time to make the procession before they were brought to the funeral site.
The theme of one of the exhibits was Origins of the Cosmic Oceans. It says:
Hindu philosophy understands the universe to be periodically destroyed and recreated. When the present world is not in existence, the Absolute (Sat Brahman) alone is present. The emergence of Consciousness (Purusha) and Matter (Prakriti) from the Absolute, creates the cosmic ocean and thus the Universe. According to Nath teachings, the mahasiddhas (great perfected beings) remain sentient during the intervals between creation, when the cosmos is covered with vast waters.
Thomas and Adrian knew all the good spots in town, one of which was a Lassi shop. They serve the thickest and tastiest Lassi!  It is so thick that they give you a spoon to scoop the last bit of what you paid for. If nobody had been watching me, I would have stuck my index finger in to swipe the cup clean, as  I believe the index finger was made for such function. But all smiley eyes were on us, so I controlled myself.
What I noticed about Jodhpur is that the locals leave tourists alone. I realized that I had been so much on guard when I arrived in Jodhpur. But people gave me friendly smiles, including women. I experienced no harrasement even when I walked alone, apart from Thomas and Adrian. Shop keepers just call out once or twice. The only persistent ones are those who work at the spice shops, I don’t know why…
I enjoyed my stay there, so I highly recommend Jodhpur.

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