we’ve spent the last several days in jodhpur, the blue city of rajasthan. in the olden days, painting your house blue was a sign that you were of the brahmin caste (priest caste), but nowadays a bunch of other people in jodhpur have painted their houses blue as well. we came here expecting almost every single house we saw to be blue, but it turns out that this really isnt the case. in fact, our first evening here, we only saw a handful of blue houses. but that was just the section of the city that we were in. some sections have just a few blue houses, while others have tons and tons of them. it looks especially impressive when you look down on it from above and see this bright blue patchwork of squares and rectangles. damn cool!
the fort in jodhpur towering over the city
other than just wandering around the blue streets, the main thing to see in jodhpur is the fort. it’s absolutely immense, and looks really formidable on top of this huge cliff overlooking town. this fort has a long history and has been able to withstand countless attacks. there are places where you can actually see dents that canon balls made in its walls. after hiking up to the top of the mountain, we took an audioguide tour of the fort and learned a lot about it, and about how life was back then for the maharaja who lived there. from the fort, you can see incredible views of the blue city below, but unfortunately, almost all my photos looking down turned out blurry. damn. the people who worked at the fort were all dressed in uniform, most of them wore turbans, and i’m pretty sure that every single one of them had a twirly moustache. twirly moustaches are extremely popular here in rajasthan (and elsewhere in india too). so many of the men have them, and although i would never sport one myself, i really think it looks damn cool. it really seems to give people this slightly mystical, and friendly air!
the omelette man
in town, the main landmark is an old clocktower and under the tower is the omelette man. he has this tiny little stall called the Omelette Shop, with just one frying pan, a few benches for people to sit on, and hundreds of cartons of eggs stacked everywhere in towers 7 feet high. all day long, he serves up *delicious* spicy omelettes to hungry travelers and locals. according to him, he goes through about 1,000 eggs per day!! this guy is a jodhpur institution, and everyone in town knows about the omelette man. he showed us the dozens and dozens of postcards he’s received from travelers, all of them addressed to: Omelette Shop, under clocktower, Jodhpur India. that’s all there is to address! no street name, nothin’.
i think there’s something really cool about a place that only serves one thing but does it well. i just like that it’s so specialized. also, i think it’s really cool that despite having such a *tiny* little place (one burner!!), everybody knows him and his business rocks! but, people are encroaching on his business. now there’s a second guy who opened an omelette stand under the clocktower. since india has no copyright laws that i know of, he named his shop, very originally… “Omelette Shop”. so now, there are two places called Omelette Shop competing against each other in the exact same spot.
i really think it’s all the little things that make places special. sure, the fort of jodhpur is the main toursit attraction here, and is undeniably huge and impressive… but it’s the little things like blue buildings or the omelette man that make this town special. another little thing this town has going for it are Makhani Lassis. if you dont know, a lassi is a blended thick creamy yogurt drink. i couldnt stand them at first, but i was quickly converted and now i absolutely love them. especially either mango lassis or banana lassis. so GOOD!! in jodhpur though, they make this special lassi called a makhani lassi and it’s flavored w/ saffron. there’s this small little hole in the wall place that is especially famous here, and people crowd in to drink the excellent lassis. although the menu states that they do serve some other stuff, the 2 times we’ve gone, mostly what we’ve seen is a roomful of people sitting w/ glasses of lassi. the lassi here is ultra thick, fairly sweet, but also has a bit of tartness to it. once we tasted it, it was obvious why so many people come to this place…
up on the mountain, a little ways off from the fort is Jaswanat Thada, where royalty was cremated. the place is shaped kind of like a temple and is beautiful in its gleaming white tranquility. since it’s quite high up, and (at least when we went) not too many people are there, it’s a really nice quiet place to see.
right before we got to jaswanat thada, there were these two very young girls, maybe 5 years old, who were singing and dancing to get money while their father (or someone) played a musical instrument. although they were wearing traditional indian attire, these girls obviously knew nothing about traditional dance cause they were too young and just kind of hopped around and twirled about while kind of half singing. it was so hilarious! what was supposed to be a cultural display, was obviously just two kids being silly. later, when their father went for a break, the kids picked up the instrument and played it for onlookers… but they had no clue what they were doing… so all you could hear was this *horrible* screeching sound along w/ their chipmunk-like singing and whacky twirlings. too funny!
most of the rest of our time here was just spent wandering about the lively town. it’s weird, despite the fact that there is a decent amount of tourists here, we still keep getting a lot of attention and people, especially kids, keep wanting to interact w/ us. although some of the “hello, what’s your Name!!!” are quickly followed by a cheery “gimme rupees!!” or “gimme money!!”, a lot of them are genuine and people just wanna chat. bizarrely, the other day, as we were getting mobbed by a bunch of kids, an old man came up to me and asked me to “autograph” his hand!!! whoa. i was shocked. what to do? it takes an unbelievably arrogant jackass to go around autographing people’s hands. but, on the flip side, if this guy really wanted an autograph, wouldnt it be more rude to say no?? so i sheepishly signed it.
one thing that i’ve found really odd about india, is that people keep asking for pens. everybody wants pens. once you tell a child that you wont give them money, 8 times out of 10 they’ll then ask you if you have a pen. what is the deal w/ pens?? why are they valued?? actually, in the 2 weeks we’ve been in india, we’ve had 3 different people that we’ve talked to, give us pens to remember them by. and not some crazy weird fancy pen, just a regular bic-type pen. of course, it’s a really sweet gesture and we *totally* have appreciated that they gave them to us.. but why pens? i just dont get it.
one evening when we were just aimlessly walking around town checking out blue buildings, we randomly found this temple in the middle of town. some people gestured that we should go inside to have a look so we walked up in there. we walked around checking out the little altars etc. when we were about to walk out, we somehow got caught up in some kind of religious ceremony. a bunch of people were gathered around this altar and a (priest?) was next to it ringing a bell and waving around a burning candle. we got motioned to stand w/ everyone, and being curious, and also not wanting to be rude, we went over there. soon the candles were being passed around so everyone could be blessed w/ the smoke, and then next thing we know the priest was flinging water at everyone in the crowd including us. unfortunately, we know virtually nothing about hinduism yet (or actually, if this was even a hindu temple for that matter), so we really dont know what is was all about… but it was definitely interesting to have been there and checked it out. it’s cool what kind of things you’ll find if you jst wander about!