The desert and the sea (India #6)

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From the green, luscious jungles of the south, I had finally arrived at the gateway to the desert: Jodhpur. The houses, most painted a version of pale blue, reminded me of a great body of water, and, hence, the title. No, it is neither heat stroke nor food poisoning, it actually made sense.

Location: Jodhpur

Method of arrival: Bus

My fair skin gathered instant attention as soon as I got of the 24h bus ride from (hell) Mumbai, as everyone sought the opportunity to screw me over. Luckily my bitter, jaded personality was more than a match for the poor indigenous cheats.

Whether you arrived by bus or train or flight, no matter how dazed, hungry, lonely you are, get in a tuk-tuk and head to the clock tower. That should be the only thing you care to get to (unless you have something booked already, in which case it should be beyond the clock tower anyway). Note to the wise: don’t ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to a guest house. He’ll try and take you to guest houses and speak to them in their own little language and up the price so that he gets a share. Tell him to leave you at the clock tower and head beyond it towards the fort. Guest houses galore (I found mine at 700 rupees/night, hot water and all).

The guest house (Indigo Hotel) was only as regal as someone like me deserves – a garden in the courtyard, the red stone walls reminding me of the structures I encountered in Assassins Creed, the room adorned with wooden wonders and stained glass. And wi-fi.

Fort Mehrangarh loomed from nearby, sitting atop its vertical cliff like an angry parakeet, ready to snap it’s beak at you. Old age, however, has mostly softened the ancient beast, now sitting there silently nostalgic of the old days of glory.

The path toward the fort is short, uphill and filled with goats – so all in all, typically Indian.

The place was quite imposing, with very beautiful views of the city even before you get into the main fort. You need to pay a certain fee to enter, and, thanks once again to the Mumbai bombings, there is an unnecesary ammount of security checking for bags and bombs.

I was snapping every inch of the stones (fun fact: in 2008 there was a human stampede here where 249 people were killed. Cray cray), when I heard a distinct high-pitch noise coming from the surroundings. I investigated it with my eagle eyes, only to find… A CHIPMUNK!

There is only so much cuteness and animal furriness that I can take, and the chipmunk shifted all my attention from the grand building that survived attacks and human stampedes to the tiny rodent that was making noises. I was probably very weird taking hundreds of pictures of smth few people noticed. I tend to be like that. Weird.

With endless sorrow I left the chipmunk behind. Further ahead, the was an uncommonly high amount of joy and merriment, as a little traditional band was singing and lots of Indian tourists were dancing. It looked almost like one of those impromptu bhangra moment I expected. Almost.

Swords and palanquins, paintings and jewelry, rooms covered in mirrors and gold and precious stones. I would often wonder how those places would have felt, would have been, in their prime. Not just showcased, already in ruin and unused, but how they were used to live. How glorious walking in those rooms must have been, the armor worn by muscly guards (I refuse to accept any fantasy in which the guards are not akin to Greek gods), no rooms closed to the public.

I would often think that maybe it would be so much better if these places would be sold off to someone and became hotels. There was an evident lack of funding which stopped them from restoring and maintaining vast proportions of the building. Maybe it wasn’t even the funds, just a lack of interest. It also felt… wasteful to not use those rooms. They were built to be used, now they’re all alone 🙁

Beyond all the rooms and the views and the cafes that capitalism has sprung, there lies a small outdoor part with small trees and…

CHIPMUNKS. Everywhere. Running around, jumping, frolicking, being soft and furry and fully taking over my mind.

Once I had my fill of creatures, I headed to Jharoka Hotel for food. Go upstairs to the terrace restaurant and take in the whole view (this is where the first picture was taken). It really is awe-inspiring. To think so many of the people that live here have this view from their rooftops (at least this part of India has those flat rooftops that you use to dry clothes or sit for a coffee i’d presume) everyday. I wonder if for them it’s as spectacular as it is for me.

Then, at 15:30-16:00, the eagles are being fed by someone at the fort – you should be able to see the entire show from the very entrance, when you see the first cannonball (where the road splits in two, and everyone goes up and no one goes down because it’s a bit cordoned off and looks like where the mafia comes to hang out). There were hundreds of them and, if you go towards the sandy area with the chipmunks, some fly quite low so its all a great view that most everyone seemed to ignore. I was mesmerized. Truly. Such elegance lies in those birds, how they don’t even flap their wings but adjust to catch the winds.

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