“Blue” will be the theme of this blog post. To start, how about hearing Miles Davis and John Coltrane perform “Kind of Blue” while walking the streets of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India? It’s available at the end of this if you want to.
Up high in Mehrangarh Fort one can see why Jodhpur is called “The Blue City.” Way down below, royal blue buildings are scattered throughout the cityscape. Soon enough we’ll walk down the steep, narrow streets and alleys among them, but let’s stay up in the fort for awhile. This place is amazing.
Mehrangarh Fort dates back to 1460. I can’t imagine attacking this place, but apparently armies have. The fort hovers high over Jodhpur. They say it’s 410 feet tall, yet that seems conservative when looking up the walls in person. There are seven gates in. The imprints of the impact of cannonballs fired by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. Inside the Fort’s museum many weapons from back in the day are on display. Swords, daggers, rifles, shields – most all were works of art.
But while the daggers are nice, they can’t hold a candle to the beauty of many rooms inside Mehrangarh Fort. Above is a photo I took of an opulent room apparently used only for meetings. I’ve sat through a lot of powerpoints and conference calls in my time, but never in a room like this.
Let’s walk out of the fort and down into the old part of the city. Along the way it’s pointed out I’m dressed in Jodhpur blue. Can it be true I’ve become like a chameleon, able to blend in and hide along the remarkable, historic structures we pass! For example, in the photo below I know you can’t see me. I will give a bottle of wine to the first person who comes even remotely close to finding me. Good luck, but I know no one can. 🙂
Along the steep, winding streets everyone seems content, even playful on a warm February afternoon. These ladies (above) saw that I liked the blue facade behind them. They pose for this nice photo. There was a lot of Hindi banter I couldn’t follow, and laughing. Maybe they were wondering, “Hey look at that American guy in blue. He thinks no one can see him.” Or something like that.
The more we descend, the more things – store fronts, people walking and talking, dogs, cows, horns, traffic – seems to increase. We’re looking for the clock tower in the market. Near there hides Jodhpur Lassi. We’re told it’s a must stop. Best dessert in Jodhpur, best lassi in India!
Found it! Creamy, lemony…yes, very very nice!
Fortified by our lassi, we confidently cruise out into the exciting market. What I’m learning about India is this: you never know what you may find, and what you find is most always a surprise. For example:
The market is very busy…
Yet one vendor sees me across the bustling throngs and waves he wants his photo taken (he’s behind lemons wearing a black shirt in the middle of the above photo). Next, he calls his brother who works in a shop down the street. His brother comes running! Okay, now what?
The brother takes me to his shop. He shows a photo of Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody from the movie, “The Darjeeling Limited.” He’s extremely excited as he talks about how parts of the movie were filmed right here in front of his shop and these three actors sat on his motorcycle. He shows me the motorcycle out front to confirm things. I’m excited, too. Great movie! How did the his brother know that out of a crowd of hundreds I would be the one to appreciate this story about a movie made ten years ago? Bill Murray was in “The Darjelling Limited” as well. Did he see him also? No, he’s not sure. Bummer, Bill Murray stands out as a great actor and I’m sure tremendous man, I tell him.
We continue working our way through a loud, packed market that goes on and on. It’s so crowded, businesses are on top of each other.
And then, a few blocks away as if by magic, I see the sign for Jain Textiles. I’m looking for gifts to take back to the U.S. and I’ve been told this shop has very nice scarves, shawls, etc. Inside I meet the salesman who wants to show me something. “I’m just looking today,” I tell him because we plan to really shop tomorrow when we have more time. “Only six minutes please,” he says. Okay, I sit where he directs me.
Twenty minutes later I’m still sitting as he rolls out one magnificent tapestry after another. It’s a remarkable show and right up there with the best sales presentation I’ve witnessed. I see one that was created by hand for a designer in Italy. This next one for a designer in Japan “who had a magnifying glass, everything must be so perfect,” he says.
The salesman wraps around me a magnificent blue (of course) tapestry the size of a bed covering. He says “Johnny Boys” dress like this with “skinny, tight jeans and knee high boots to go to the club.” Okay. That sounds like me. 🙂
Then there was one made out of yak wool (above). He offers to sell it to me for 9,000 rupees, “a price you cannot buy a pair of socks for at this same designer’s store in Europe.” I told you this guy was good.
Next at Jain Textiles I’m shown a well used binder of photos. Paging through, our salesman shows me pics of his past customers – Prince Charles, Elizabeth Hurley, Richard Gere and – ta da! – Bill Murray. He was here after all! The image of Murray has him sitting probably on this same sofa receiving this same presentation, wrapped in of of course a majestic scarf. “Very nice man,” comments our salesman. Knew it.
Innumerable shops, many textiles and tailors, mysterious Jodhpur has it all…
…and more sights on the streets, I just can’t predict.
My only personal clothing purchase on the day was a Jodhpur blue dress shirt from Vinod Textiles. Tremendous, soft fabric. Set me back $14. In the U.S., if I could find this shirt, the cost would probably be around $100 I am told…which explains why I wouldn’t be looking for it there in the first place.
We make it back to our yoga center Shri Jasnath Asan for sunset, a remarkable scene I could watch until the cows come home. Look (above)! There’s one coming home now.
Maybe you’re not strolling through the Blue City of Jodhpur right now. Perhaps, however, you’re enjoying your morning coffee, or resting at night. Whatever your mood or time of day I share with you Miles Davis and John Coltrane in a legendary performance of “Kind of Blue.” Greetings from India. Breathe, relax and enjoy!
Love and Peace,