Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jodhpur, the blue city, a fortress, meeting people, learning Hindi and happy new year from India

Buying bangles at the market in Jodhpur
Hi again,

And so our tour continues as we get deeper into Rajasthan and so our knowledge of India grows as we learn a little more each day of its culture and history. But what we like best is talking to the people. It seems they like to talk to us too as there is a great interest in everything foreign. They ask us where we come from and when we say “Spain” they go “ah” and nod but when we ask them if they know where that is, they are often not sure. We tried the language of football which usually works everywhere, especially when you mention Real Madrid but India is not a football country. Here the great sport is that famous strange British game, called cricket.
Me with Indian men at the Fort in Jodhpur
Yesterday after resting in our lovely room overlooking the hotel pool which is splendid, we decided to go the famous Taj Mahal hotel for dinner. The Taj Mahal chain of hotels is one of the finest in the world and became even more famous recently because of the unfortunate Bombay gun attacks. I knew the name from when I was a young secretary working for Defex as my boss used to stay at one in Delhi. We would have loved to stay at this chain throughout our visit but at approximately 500 euros a night, that would have ruined our budget. So we settled for dinner instead which turned out to cost 6000 rupees which is a fortune for India. Was it good our driver asked? Well actually nothing special, that is the truth, but the palace is amazing. It was built by a British architect in 1930 for the Marajah and is actually called the Umaid Bhawan Palace. It is a hotel, a museum and the home of the current Marajah. The building is spectacular and we were told that Liz Hurley had just celebrated her wedding there. Bit too late for us, I’m afraid, but not too late to have a 25th wedding anniversary dinner which we did last night.
The Taj Mahal hotel in Jodhpur
This morning our driver took us to visit the Mehrangarh Fort which was built in 1459 by Rao Jodha. India is all about forts and temples; they are all over the place. But this fort was our first and we found it magnificent. It overlooks the old part of Jodhur whose houses are painted light blue. The views of the blue city and of the new part of the town are fantastic and a walk round the fort breathtaking.
Jodhpur, the blue city
The fort which was once the home of marajahs and their princesses who followed the purdah custom of women living apart, fiercely guarded by loyal servants, often eunuchs, is a museum in its own with all sorts of pieces of art such as the wonderful miniature paintings so typical of India, weapons of the past, fabulous silver elephant carriages and of course the palace itself is a marvel with its gold painted ceilings and colourful stained glass.
The Fort in Jodhpur
And here at the Mehrangarth Fort is where we had our first lesson in Hindi. We met 4 young boys of ages between 17 and 20 who were interested to know where we came from. They were from Jodhpur and were actually visiting the fort for the first time. Today was a national holiday in India. They told us it was the first time they had met westerners and were terribly interested to know about our customs, especially how men in Europe could go out with other women before they got married! They even taped Eladio talking!! They asked us how to say basic words in Spanish and we learned from them that Hello is Namaste, Thank you is Dhanyawad, that Good bye is Alvida, that how are you is Tum Kaisa Ho and that I love you is Me tumse pyar kartahu. They laughed a lot when they told us this last sentence. When we said goodbye, the youngest one asked me for a kiss!!! I felt so flattered. But I ask myself, was he desperate or am I more beautiful than I thought? Probably the former is the right answer, of course
Our Hindi teachers
After the fort we visited the memorial to the Maharaja Jaswant Singhji and then made our way to the famous market in town as well as one of the main landmarks, the Clock Tower. Our driver took us to one place which turned out to be a rip off. A one Mohammed wanted to charge us 1800 for 4 packets of curry and 3 of tea!! We went on to buy cheap bangles and a colourful pashmina but passed on the curry as we just didn’t know who to trust.

And now we are back in our hotel room ready to join the other guests for what will surely be a splendid dinner. It will be strange to spend New Year’s Eve away from our family but the occasion makes it worthwhile. The hotel Ajit Bhawan has been at work all day to get everything ready and it all looks wonderful. The dinner is in the garden with lighting in the trees, the music is set and each table looks enticing with a little fire next to it. The waiters are wearing their finest outfits. It is now 21.30 and we are ready to go down to spend New Year’s Eve in India.
All ready for the New Year's Eve gala dinner at the delightful Ajit Bhawan Hotel in Jodhpur
The Gala Dinner

Happy New to all who read my blog from India, with love

Masha

1 comment:

sandeep said...

Did he get the Kiss, LOL...Beleive the pair of you are too good looking for your age...?