I am going to Jaipur for a short trip, and I am really excited about it. It is strange how years of living in a place dulls your eyes to its beauty that many others can appreciate. It is being away that makes you want to go back – as a traveler, an outsider.
I have no nostalgia for the city. I was happy to get away from it, and I still am. It is/was a jumbled mess of dullness and incredibly small – not in size, but in thoughts. If you blinked an eye, the faint sound would perhaps echo through to everyone you know in the city. That is how small it was. Freedom, individuality and privacy had no space, they were unheard words. May be it has changed, but that is how I remember it, and perhaps will continue to remember it.
But I like it as an outsider, I think the place is delightful. It holds a million colors, even though a lot of the city is painted in an ugly shade which they like to call pink (it isn’t, and it is slightly hideous). I love the way the land saps every bit of the energy and leaves everything and everyone arid, thirsty. On a sunny afternoon, most of the city feels like a deserted battleground, the dry leaves flying about, the arid and harsh wind blowing every strand of hair and beating it against the face. It is hugely annoying but immensely picturesque.
Perhaps it is to beat this dryness of the land that people fill themselves and everything else with color.
There are the forts. So tall, majestic, rotting and full of tales. Amber palace with its ornamentation, Jaigarh with its incredibly huge cannon that even has a name (Jaivan!), Nahargarh, from where you can view the entire city.
There are still villages that are frozen in time – like Amber. Just looking at those doors and elaborate gates will take you at least a 100 years back. Peeping through those doors are people who are perhaps older and carry weights of many years before them.
And the old city – so much noise and life! With houses tumbling into each other, and lanes so narrow that two people cannot cross without touching each other. The air heavily laden with the mingling aromas of food, the panipuri and the chats, the lassis, the samosas and the boondi. The trinkets and the flowing materials. And so much festivity as the city does what is its life – trade.