Tag Archives: Rajasthan

Jodhpur, the blue city in Rajasthan

Many a traveler on the tourist trail leading from the Taj Mahal into the desert state of Rajasthan goes to the ‘pink’ city of Jaipur and then very often is headed for Pushkar, Udaipur or Jaisalmer further west.

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What about the blue city of Jodhpur? What’s wrong with it?  I often wondered. Is it not recommended enough by guidebooks like the ‘lonely plant’? are people really rushing their way through this most beautiful part of india? it is probably a combination and it’s a pity anyway, i would say. More than once people told me they arrived in the morning and then take the train in the evening again. Those are the moments I praise myself for having all the time in the world (let’s not talk about the money)

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Contrary to Jaipur everything is in walking distance here and condensed around and under the Mehrangarh fort. It was easy to spend two weeks in this gorgeous atmosphere spinning between the blue houses, wandering around the tiny streets, photographing ‘the guard’ at the fort (among many other characters I stumbled upon in the alleys) and going to Ramesh (‘a real Bombay barber’) for my regular shave and face massage. (watch the video at the end)

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jodhpur_rajasthan_12Jodhpur_blue_city_2‘the tailor’

jodhpur_blue_city_3‘7.04 PM’

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Jodhpur_blue_city ‘Jamil’

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Enshrined‘Enshrined’

Jodhpur_Rajasthan‘the golden girl’

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 ‘the bush at the fort’ & ‘the guard at the fort’

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Caste: Warrior

20140422- (232)The caste system in India has been around for thousands of years and probably hundreds of varying books have been written on the subject.

These days article 15 of the Indian constitution states that discrimination between the castes is illegal.

I have encountered numerous instances in which the reality shows itself a little more harsh than the best intentions of the constitution ; after all, this is India and nothing is what it seems to be which for me has always been a great fascination but also a tremendousfrustration at times in this most amazing country.

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Coming from a ‘casteless’ society (if that exists at all) I tend to equally interact with anyone crossing my path. A nice connection is a nice connection after all.

I would walk the streets of a city with someone from an ‘upper’ caste and come along another new friend from a ‘lower’ caste who invites me for tea in his place upon which the other friend would have to decline as he cannot enter the house. Even though he might be the most generous and friendly person around it’s deeply ingrained in his behaviour to do so.

The caste system is all over the place still but for an outsider it is very much hidden, it is between te lines of life. Indians know their place in the scheme of things and most often the continued segregation of castes has something smooth to it. In an overpopulated country knowing your place often helps in funny ways.

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Me and my French travel buddy were walking the streets of the very funny town of Bundi in Rajasthan. Suddenly  I was not feeling well from the heat and leaned down against the wall of a huge and beautiful Haveli mansion. The owner immediately invited us in very eager to show us around  but i said I needed to take rest so he showed me a bed in the middle of a courtyard which I took to while my friend was sucked into the man’s office as he turned out to be a lawyer, and a very proud one…

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I knew this was not just your average place and still being drained of my forces I joined into the lawyer’s office just in time of being shown a picture on the wall of a naked holy man. Then a tour started from room to room, to room, and then yet another room! Many spaces filled with pictures of ancestors and the stories around it concerning his lineage of the warrior caste.

Father and son exhibited an interesting interaction: where the father was acting fiercely passionate and proud, his son would be smiling and even mocking his father as if to deflate his posture  a bit and bring lightness to the seriousness while the mother would turn on the television  and stare at the screen in every room we entered.Caste_Warrior1

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The Golden Girl

As I was roaming the streets of Jodhpur, the blue city in Rajasthan, soaking in a myriad of impressions on the way , suddenly a golden girl appeared right in front of me at the doorstep. Around her, the remains of Holi, the festival of colors -which took place the day before- were still visible in pink. There she stood, frozen in time, piercing my lens.

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The Barber, The Chai Wallah and me

stino photoRamesh entertains a funny mix of westerners and locals in his  streetside barber shop which has come to its third generation. He loves his work and radiates it all around like a happy kid.

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 A good shave is always followed by a crazy face massage. Even though I feel very awake after my shave  there is always Chai wallah popping up  around the corner with his masala chai to give my day another boost. Chai wallah himself is pure delight as he’s the most cheerful guy roaming the street, always with teacups in his front pocket.

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When the evening sets in  the cutting of the scissors goes on along with the noise of a cricket game on tv and the always present blowing of horns. This is the setting of a short movie I am shooting currently called ‘A Real Bombay Barber’