Life in the blue city
After a long flight from Brussels to Delhi via London and a hesitating moment by the pilots to take off in Delhi due to the persisting fog, I finally arrived after a 17h journey in Jodphur in the province of Rajasthan. Some call it ‘the blue city’ as the houses are paint in blue in the old city. My adventures were about to start… and what a start! I met a local guy there through couchsurfing who made my stay in Jodhpur simply unforgettable! Instead of wandering around in the city with a map, hopping on & off riksja’s & taxi’s, spend the evenings alone in my hostel, Surendra introduced me to his lovely family who gave me a extremely warm welcome and offered me a welcoming cup of hot ginger tea.
Surendra’s sister Kira cooked me a typical local dish as well consisting of bread, potatoes & beans (Haldi haldi, chapati, aloo & matar ). Just lovely! One thing was very confusing though as non-Indian and I once heard about it but it was the first tie that I experience it. When I asked some questions to my host or his friends they always turned their head from left to right while saying yes. Confusing but apparently it just means that they think so or that they’re not sure. Funny for us but you get the hang of it quite quickly.
Anyway, after this delicious meal, Surendra showed me proudly the wedding book of his older brother Ravindra that married 1 month ago.So unfortunate I wasn’t able to attend it because a traditional Indian wedding seems to be a unique experience as the festivities go on for days! But I had a pretty good idea of how it had been just by looking at the wonderful wedding book & through Surendra’s enthousiastic story telling.
Surendra introduced me to his best friends Shailendra, Gopi & Prakesh afterwards. They were his 3 best friends with whom he travelled and shared great adventures all around India. We went for a walk just outside the city, where we met Shalinda’s dad, a local paracommando & some friends who were all so excited to meet a foreigner. Than they bought some Peda or local holy sweets and we went to Lord Ganesha’s temple to bless those before consuming them… Nice to see how religion & traditions are still so important in their culture. As the morning started, Surendra had to have some work done before we would explore the city. He’s a antique re-seller running a nice company called ‘Rare Arts Collection’ and he had to sent some items to Saoudi-Arabia. I guess he got the taste from his father, Rajindra who also is a trader in antique deco. In the meantime his brother Ravindra, who develops apps for Apple, showed me the roof of their home where workers were busy making a rooftop terrace. Lovely! I had a small but nice conversation with Nansing as well, one of the workers there.
Once Surindra was done, we left for the Mehrangarh fort, situated on the top of a hill overlooking the huge city of Jodhpur. We slalomed in the city between rikja’s, scooters, cows, … till we hit our destination. On one side of the hill, we could admire the blue old city, while on the another side we could enjoy the views on the new city. A few minutes from the fort lies the Jaswant Thada palace, meant as a tomb for the Raja. Beautiful palace surrounded by gardens, a small lake & different architectural wonders. It was now time to go back to the city centre where Surindra dropped me at the Sardar Market Girdikot, the central local market where you can mingle among locals in the overcrowded streets & corners and absorb the atmosphere of real Indian life.
The next morning Surindra took me to the Umaid Bhawan palace, the last of India’s greatest palaces and one of the largest in the world. It was comissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1929 and now partially home of his grandson Maharaja GajSingh II. The time had come to say goodbye to this nice family who made me really feel part of their home and welcomed me with open arms.