Walking down Jodhpur’s M. G. H Road in the heat of the September Sun, a middle-aged man broke his stride upon receiving a call on his phone.
It soon became apparent that it was not a call to be answered hurriedly, and certainly not one to carry on with while dodging passers-by on the street. The call called for a more pleasant setting, some shade, and a place to recline and answer in leisure, making me wonder who was on the other line.
There was little chance I would ever find out but it didn’t stop me from wondering about likely possibilities, and they certainly weren’t mundane possibilities. Wandering does that to imagination.
Looking around for a place more appropriate to the occasion, the man soon found respite from the searing Sun on the steps of an old stone building, leaning against a stone pillar as he stretched himself out on the steps.
Rust had eaten away the letters on the metal nameplate that I had initially mistaken for wood. However, adjacent to the nameplate, letters stenciled in black ink on the wooden door survived to indicate the nature of the establishment: Bharat Tent House.
I cannot remember clearly if Bharat Tent House was housed in the Sanghi Das building, or if it was in an adjacent building. It shared the open area in the front with other commercial properties, including a TV Repair shop.
By now the man was deep in conversation, occasionally smiling as he threw his head back against the floral designs carved in the stone pillar and looked around absently, his mobile phone held firmly to his ear. It was inevitable I would linger around, eyes trailing along the contours of his backdrop, pausing every inch of the way along the façade etched with decorative patterns on pilasters projecting from the wall, lending the door on either side ample relief.
The pilasters ended in fine stone corbels on which rested the entablature projecting from the wall, over the fading blue door. I couldn’t tell for sure if the carved corbels projecting from the wall were merely decorative elements or actually bore the load of the entablature over the door.
The weather beaten door was locked, its blue reminding of the sky in a city that sits at the gatepost of the Thar desert. It was a magical moment, a Jodhpur moment, no less.
And I wondered again, this time around not of who might be on the other line but if his conversation was as interesting as his backdrop.