Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stories from Oblivion: Chapter Three: JU

So you pack your bags and leave for a place they call the Blue City.

You arrive at the station and drown in a sea of humanity.

And as you step out of the station, you light your first cigarette in twelve hours.

But something is missing. You look around, only to find a little boy holding a few glasses and a kettle, looking up at you, smiling ear to ear. Aah... chai.

As you sit on a stool, smoking a much needed cigarette and drinking an almost perfect cup of tea, you realise that even today, 'Titanic' is a style statement.

You reach your hotel room and review your schedule. You have four days in which to complete your work, so you work overtime and wrap it up in three. Afterall, what's the point of traveling if you can't see the sights, right?
Umaid Bhavan Palace

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

Even though the palace looks stunning from a distance, it fails to charm you. Most of the palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel, and is not open to the public. Room tariff begins at 25000 INR and goes up to 1.5 Lac INR. A portion of the palace has been converted into a museum which documents the life of the members of the royal family through photographs.


Mehrangarh Fort

The fort is situated 400 feet above the city on top of a hill, and is enclosed by huge, towering walls. Inside its territorial boundaries, there are several palaces and sprawling courtyards. The amazing thing is, it has taken over 400 years of construction to make Mehrangarh as breathtaking as it is today.
There is a lot of history associated with the fort as well and it takes almost an hour even for a quick tour. The wonderful thing is that they have a restaurant and a cafe located at strategic points of the tour so that you have access to much needed rehydration. And once you reach the rooftop courtyard, there is a counter where you can grab a beer or a coke and enjoy this view.

Picture Courtesy: Google Image Search

And why is it called the Blue City, you ask?



The people of Jodhpur are warm and hospitable. And though they may prefer our caucasian counterparts when it comes to making a quick buck, they are, for the most part, eager to charm you with their rich heritage.
The Royal Guard
The most charming personality in Jodhpur is the man in the photograph. He is a guard at the Mehrangarh Fort and is stationed in the upper floors, normally seen staring out of a window overlooking a courtyard. He wears a sleek pair of sunglasses and appears to be more on display than on duty. His style and body language makes Amitabh Bachhan in Eklavya look bland.
I was fascinated so I talked my guide into getting a couple of photographs with him. The guard was more than happy to oblige and even offered to pose. I was a little confused by his enthusiasm so I waved a fifty and asked the guide if this would involve a payment. The guide laughed and gestured for me to put the money back into my pocket.
After our little photograph session, we thanked him and made our way further up the fort. As we were climbng up a staircase, I interrupted my guide and asked him why he had told me that the guard was 'world-famous.' He smiled and asked me, "have you seen that Visa advertisement with Richard Gere?"
I nodded, and as that ad flashed in my mind, I got my answer.