Jodhpur (Abbreviated) : Blues 'n' poos and fireworks too
Jodhpur Travel Blog› entry 222 of 268 › view all entries
'Can I keep you company for the day? I think it's always better to see a city in company, don't you?'. Excuse me? Morning? Who? What? It's about 5.30am, Jodhpur train station. I've only just extricated myself from the sand dunes of Rajasthani desert dust that had built up around me as I slept, train-bound, through the night. I was awaiting the ticket office to open with a plan to head to a hotel and crash out for half the day but now this proposition from a pretty, red-headed Russian girl named Katrina. Yep. I guess it's better to have company as the pretty, red-headed Russian girl says.
India. It's a country that continually causes one to raise an eyebrow either out of amazement or amusement or both. This morning, not five minutes into Katrina and I's excursion I sight a woman squatting on the ground in front of her house creatively fingering about with a fresh cow sh*t. And I'm thinking 'Well India, that's another new one on me!' Well, not totally new. I'm not ignorant of the value - cultural, practical and historical - of forging cow poo into dried fuel cakes as a financial expedient of the poor. But this looks a little different. As I said, it's a little 'creative' looking.
Moving on and arriving at the door of a house that will soon invite (con) Kat inside for a henna session with a lovely married, middle-aged husband and wife, there upon the ground another Gingerbread Man form of a human being forged out of a fresh cow crap.
Suffice to say that when in the middle of a fraught staring contest with a cow on platform number two of Jaisalmer train station at nearly midnight last night, said cow ejecting a liquid stream of excrement onto said platform (in a shameless attempt to distract me and win the contest of course!) and nearly getting my backpack in its splat radius despite our 2 metres distance, did not feel like an auspicious event to me!
So what does Jodhpur have to offer.
Not far from the fort in the white marble serenity of the Jaswant Thada memorial building where Maharaja Jaswant Singh II has his final resting place.
If you have time, the 20 minute walk from the precincts of the fort to the old 'Blue City' is probably necessary to get a real feel for Jodhpur of old.
We eventually find a pleasant temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva where colourful rangoli (intricate coloured powder floor decorations) and butter oil lamp compositions are being prepared for the continued Diwali celebrations.
Kat departed. Night fallen. I stand atop my hotels rooftop restaurant to take in the continued night theatre of Diwali. Pyrotechnically speaking nothing I witness in my three days of Indian Diwali celebrations compares to the magnificent fireworks display I once saw besides the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple in Neasden, London some years ago.
There kids as young as four; gangs of mates; brothers and sisters screech and whiz, crackle and burst with joy and great effervescence. Explosive little gunpowder kegs of happiness each and every one. Laughter sparkles through the air. Those uniquely wide, lustrous firefly eyes that Indian children all seem to possess glittering in the street night shadows as they observe the fire crackers and bangers, miniature rockets and spinning Catherine wheels set off upon the ground. All of which rowdy magic and fun would have the Health and Safety legislators and officials in Britain wetting their beds with anxiety. As they so frequently do.
Me. Back upon the rooftop. Alone with the Diwali night. I hear the artillery shell blasts, near and far, of the kids and their dynamite sticks below. Diwali is as much about noise as light it seems. But the infrequent sky-high fireworks are pretty and up here, able to survey the whole city, they make for a busy performance too. Their many colours flashing gold, red, blue, green, yellow, silver, orange and pink like traces of firework embroidery picked out upon the nights black background cloth. Rajasthan has been a most colourful state. Colour and dust. Colour and light. The people are fireworks amidst their various plights.
[ Afterword 14/03/2010 : In recent reading I happened upon a reference to these 'Cow Cr*p Gingerbread Men'.