Saturday, May 10, 2008

20 Glimpses of Jodhpur Through My Eyes


"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

Oscar Wilde

I got pawned by Oscar Wilde.

Okay, I don't have much time to sink into this post. I got to mash together something for this year's tee-shirt designing competition and the deadline was sometime in the middle of last week my submission is a teensy bit overdue. Basically, the competition is a ploy to get idiots like me to work our asses off while the Student Council *jawatangilakuasa* print cheap tees off our efforts to make a wad of cash big enough to fund the yearly Supremo Ball. The winning design and designer will get a free tee - of his or her own design. Yeah. That's. It. Tell you guys what; if I win again this year, I'll just trade in my prize for the privilege and authority to finally rename the bloody ball into something that didn't come out of a Pizza Hut menu.

Also, I got an end-posting examination on Monday. Life sucks so hard.

So, where was I? Oh yeah - No Time. So this is going to be a very, very simple travelogue. I'm just going to show you some captioned pictures I picked out of the hundreds I took while I was in Jodhpur. No pseudo-philosophical bullshit. No Discovery Channel specials. No insights into my neurotic childhood. And no pornography you can't wank off to. Just pictures and some lines with words in them - we can all drink to that.

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1. Okay, I'm not quite sure if I got this right; This guy, Gawlani, owned a stall (which served rice, lentils and occasionally, omelette) and when the famous Lonely Planet guidebook accidentally renamed his business "The Omelette Shop" in its listing. And Boom. Suddenly, hundreds of backpackers flock to his stall daily demanding only greasy, egg-based snack food. So he scrapped his old menu and now, serves about a thousand eggs every single day. The heart-clogging omelettes are okay, but the irony that tourist guidebooks not only recommends popular places to eat - but also creates them - is really why you want to visit this little establishment for.

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2. Walk past the Omelette Shop and through the archway behind it, and enter the vibrant Sardar market. And in the midst of spice shops, vegetable stalls, cows and cow-pats - stood the Clock Tower which looked strangely at home in a place which appears as if its most advanced time-telling technology is the sundial. A really educational place to go if you're born in an era when the only markets you know are those with the suffix "super-".

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3. And right at the foot of the Clock Tower was this... stall selling bread. How the hell he pushed his cart to the market everyday without his ungainly towers of golden, brown sliced bread toppling over like my childhood dreams and aspirations I would never know.

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4. Some pesky kids in the market who insisted that I photograph them. No, seriously. They tugged at my shirt while I was photographing the Clock Tower and just stood like statues there waiting for me to give them their 2 seconds worth of disturbingly-self-satisfied glory in the spotlight. I obliged, but just to get rid of them.

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5. The best drink in all of India (as opposed to the worst; This). This, ladies and gents, is makhania lassi. It tastes like ordinary sweet lassi, but with awesome blended in. And by awesome, I actually meant saffron, o' course. Makes me want to throw handfuls of saffron into everything I eat now.

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6. More pesky kids bugging me to take their pictures while I was enjoying my makhania lassi.

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7. I caught a headache (probably caused by those vexatious poseur children) and decided to go back to the backpacker's inn for a bit of lie down. The key to my room was with one of my 10 travel mates, who were all scattered all over the city of Jodhpur in search of cheap stuff to buy, cool stuff to see, and lame kids to not take photographs of. So, I bunked down on a swing on the rooftop restaurant (seemed like a really popular thing in this part of India) and dozed off under the shadow of the ridiculously massive Mehrangarh atop the aptly named Bhaucheeria, or Mountain of Birds. I learned one important lesson that day - sleeping under a majestic ancient fort, as awesome as it sounds, really does nothing for headaches. Notice the psychedelic indigo coloured buildings all over the city? It's a colour sacred to some god (I can't remember which now) and also, it supposedly deflects heat and repels mosquitoes. And no, I'm not making this up.

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8. This picture and all the others which follows it is taken during the events described in this post I wrote while I was still trippin' - if you haven't read it, the subsequent captions aren't going to make a lot of sense. This is the Jaswant Thanda, a beautiful marble monument built by the queen for Maharaja Jaswant Singh II after his death. It's the jealous, smaller and less-hot step-sister of the Taj Mahal. Thanda practically means Coca-Cola in Hindi. Not quite relevant here but I just thought I'd mention it.

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9. And this picture was taken by Vincent at the back of the Jaswant Thanda. We had a couple of guys stomping loudly on the floor to scatter the pigeons so he can take this picture. On hindsight, that wasn't really something nice to do at some dead king's cenotaph. We Malaysians are seriously bastards.

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10. The Mehrangarh from the Jaswant Thanda. It is Very Big. Elizabeth Hurley apparently had her wedding reception here. How... romantic?

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11. And here I was, within the fort. C'mon, admit it. It's pretty amazing up close.

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12. This apparently hard-drinking bloke who looks like he got "issues" is me. Vincent sneaked a shot at me when I opted to sit in the cool, shady cafe in the Mehrangarh because of my headache. This was the place that the guide for our Mehrangarh tour, Mr Suresh, came to rescue my sorry ass.

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13.
I visited the Umaid Bhawan palace earlier that day, but I don't have any pictures of it in this post because frankly, it's not that great a place. Okay, let's play a game. 50 internet points to whoever that can spot the Umaid Bhawan palace in this picture. 100 internet points if you can find the Sardar Market Clock Tower.

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14. A really cool teardrop-shaped stairwell in one of the palaces in the Mehrangarh. I'm sure there's a hidden metaphor somewhere in this. And a pun too, I bet.

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15. The women's palace which is beautifully restored and maintained by the German government. Apparently, it's their policy to pay for the preservation of the palaces of queens worldwide. Yes, that's how I felt when I first heard Mr Suresh explaining this to me. I'm sure if we give it enough thought, it'll probably amount to some sort of dastardly plan of the Germans to take over the world. Oh, this exquisitely carved section of the fort is NOT made out of wood. It's stone cold hard stone, baby. Looks a lot more magnificent now, si?

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16. And within the courtyard in the women's palace, here's me again, rubbing my head because it still kind of ached. Here's where Mr Suresh introduced the Opium Man to me. To hear about that story (again), go to the post linked in the caption of picture 8. I do wish that Vincent had caught the Opium Man on camera - that's basically the most exciting thing that happened to me in Jodhpur, and I don't have a single memento to show for it. Bugger.

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17. A colourful shoe shop at the exit of the fort. This image of some merchant shoving some merchandise under your nose is iconic of travels through India. It seemed that everywhere I went, there's always some bloke trying to make your nose look at whatever crap he's trying to unload on you. An honest campaign for Indian tourism would consist of brochures containing only pictures like this - because this is probably what you'll see most in India. Enjoying some mountain view? Someone will wave postcards or picture books in your face depicting the same scenery. Drinking up the superlative magnificence of the Taj Mahal? BAM! A bunch of ugly Taj Mahal snow-globe key chains hit you in the face.

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18. Some lady selling colourful, hand-rolled [insert unknown substance name] bracelets which looked like little candy cane hoops near the shoe guy. I wish I bought one for Phoebe now. I'm sure she would love it.

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19. We need to replace every single "Do Not Smoke" sign in Malaysia with cool ones like this. I can think of one now - like "Cigarettes Contain the Same Black Substances Used to Write this Sign". Okay, I admit that it won't make more people stop smoking in public places, but at least they'll give Kenny Sia something to blog about in his filler posts.

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20. These are the tragic sati marks of the widows of Maharaja Man Singh, who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843. I found them beside the Lohapol, the Iron Gate, through which I left the fort. Let's just be glad that that dark chapter of human civilisation has long been closed behind us.

Okay, besides the 20 I picked from the picture stack, there are also a few more which, if not particularly notable or interesting, deserve a gander. At least I think so. Here they are,

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21. Right behind this epitaph was a man called Rajiya Bambi who was buried alive in the foundations of the Mehrangarh to ensure that the site is propitious. It's a really quaint local tale - Rao Jodha, the builder of the fort, promised Rajiya Bambi that for his sacrifice, his family will be looked after by the royal family. To this very day, his descendants still live in Raj Bagh, Rajiya's Garden, an estate bequeathed them by Jodha. It's a charming story, really, aside from the "some bloke got buried alive" bit.

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22. The Jodhpur train station, on the morning we were leaving. Basically, most train stations in India double up as mega budget hotels.

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23.
A cute goat I saw on the way down from the Mountain of Birds.

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24. The cute goat's goth elder brother.

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25.
A herd of holy cows standing about in the middle of the market looking disapprovingly at passerbys while letting ripe cow turds hit the ground with satisfyingly squelchy splats at regular intervals. Every time I think of Jodhpur, this is the image that comes to mind.

Okay. The End. You know what? I think I'm going to write all my travelogues this way from now on. Can I get an Amen on that?

Signing off. And Out.



The God of this Blok,
k0k s3n w4i

6 comments:

mrbherng said...

Sleeping in the train station is rather normal I think, since I had slept in the check in area of an airport before.

You should've go Singapore and check out some of their MRT stations (eg. Raffles Place) where some blokes just have a nap on their cold hard floor on a scorching day.

Rajan said...

Nice humorous write-up - loved it!

michelleg said...

cool awesome pictures!! love the tear drop picture..

what if in the future those 2 kids stumble upon ur blog? lol..

Yen said...

It's been a long time I had not drop by your blog until today, when I twisted my toe and I have to stay at home like an armchair traveller via the net. Seems to me that you really have beautiful photography skills. It enhance the sceneries taken.

=D PENELOPE(YEN)

k0k s3n w4i said...

mrbherng: well, it's not that I find it totally weird (I myself stayed overnight at the Pudu bus station once). It's just that there's so many of them and the stations are usually... not very clean.

rajan: glad someone did :)

michelleg: if they do, they'll give up their hobby - which is a good thing, no?

yen: LOL, so you only drop by when you've nothing else better to do :P? Anyhow, it doesn't require a lot of talent to take those photographs. The subject matters themselves are awesome on their own.

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