Rajasthan

We had a great vacation at Rajasthan last week. I will not be writing in detail about the places, since wikitravel does a better job at that. I will just jot down some of my experiences/thoughts during this trip.

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The first thing that strikes you once you are in Rajasthan is the "color". Blood red, dark pink, bright yellow, vibrant hues of blue and green - you feel as though they finished playing holi just before you arrived. It seems the people here, with their dressing sense, art and music, more than compensate for the arid, barren, vast spaces of nothingness. It is one place in the world where you can wear the gaudiest Govinda dress without the fear of a fashion faux pas.

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Color is very important to a Rajasthani. They have different colors for different occasions - the birth of a child, the mourning of a death, the ending of a mourning, for holi, for diwali. Innumerable types of turbans are worn, each distinctly representing the wearer's caste, sub caste, the region he belongs to etc. A trained eye can figure out a lot looking at a stranger's turban wearing style and color. Example, "Look at that Gujjar, looks like he just had a son" or "Looks like somebody died in that Banjara's house". Remember how we measured the resistors using color code? (B B Roy of Great Britain had a Very Good Wife)

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The audio guides in most places were good - it was excellent in Mehrangarh fort, Jodhpur; good in Jaisalmer and Bikaner; the only exception being Amer fort in Jaipur. Though aimed mainly at international tourists, it was informative and done very professionally. The reason I said international is because a simple statement like "Rama blessed Hanuman" would become "Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, one of the principal Hindu Gods, blessed Hanuman, the monkey God". Got it right? Like some of you bloggers who write, "A sumptuous meal in Kamat would cost you just Rs. 110" without forgetting to add "approx. 2.683 USD, as on 13/12/2010*" in the brackets.

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In Rajasthan, art is an integral part of life. Intricate paintings, delicate stone work, done with so much craft and finesse, make their presence feel everywhere. Go to any shop and you can hear the shopkeeper say - "This carpet work is fully hand woven, it takes 6 months to finish one piece" or "This 6X6 miniature painting takes 4 months". Intricate art was perhaps the early desert man's way of ensuring job security. You get orders for making 100 razaai or 200 paintings, and you have a secure job till retirement. 

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During our college days, we used to call our dear friend Avins as "onte" because of his height. Though the camels stand a few feet short compared to him, the tall, good natured, calm, composed, uncomplicated desert ships reminded me of him.

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I have a big problem with Hindi speaking people interchangeably using "da" and "ra" (like "bari" and "badi" for big; "lori" and "lodi" for lullaby) Imagine my plight when we went to see "Saheliyon ki Baari" and the board read "Saheliyon ki Baadi". Even a half pervert mind would interpret it as getting physical with girlfriends. I am damn sure most North Indians will find it amusing when Laura Linney introduces herself. On a similar note, I am very scared of any Tamilian singing "Lambi judaai" :)

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If you go to a restaurant in Rajasthan, dont ask "What do you have in dessert?" You may get the answer as "Sand dunes, camels,..." So adopt a safe approach and ask "What do you have in ice creams or milkshakes?"

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