December 03, 2011

Conversations, And Backdrops in Jodhpur

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.


marja-leena said...

What a lovely doorway! Why do we love these old and weathered and worn places, at least to photograph? We, in the western world anyway, are so quick to tear down or abandon the old. We don't want to live in run down places, yet pictures of falling barns and farms are very popular. And of course, we are fascinated by ancient ruins everywhere in the world. Is it the history of the past that calls to us?

Riot Kitty said...

Great pic and story - that is such a neat contrast of old and modern.

Connie said...

The pictures tell a story for anyone who studies them and wishes to create one. I like your version of what you see there. Nice post! :-)

am said...

Splendid photos and writing about the man in conversation by the door that looks like the sky. Thank you for this.

TALON said...

You always find the stories within the stories, Anil. And I love how history and the present keep great company together in your neat shots!

Anuradha Shankar said...

what a lovely story! and a great setting too!! I am always amazed at the everyday things u notice and write up so beautifully!

Ugich Konitari said...

Leaning in anticipation
out of the
eyes searching
through her
earthy red-yellow veil ,
she calls out
to her friend
passing by;
rushes down the steps,
out through
the big door,
stops at the threshold,
a huge smile
with an outpouring of words.

A few more windows
have folks looking down
to see what
the commotion is all about.
Some indulgent,
some smirking,
and disapproving
this wild display....

They should have lived
in a time,
you never saw
who you were talking to,
the person
never noticed your delight....

you sat down
at the base of it all,
leaned back,
they heard
a one sided conversation
devoid of
all the action.

No wonder
the doors and windows
to close their
eyes and minds....

Anonymous said...

You may have carved this yesterday but it is a pretty sculpture in antiquity.

Anonymous said...

Such an old world charm in the photographs :) and your writing too :)

Anil P said...

Marja-leena: There's a certain artistry to designs of the old, a certain verve, imagination, and classical element to it.

And in their weathered state they display a certain ruggedness as well. All of which are usually lacking in the functional design of modern times where efficiency and economy trumps art. No wonder the modern rarely holds beauty that's cherished.

While the modern might last, the design of the old will likely not only last but inspire awe.

Riot Kitty: Thak you. Yes, it's a contrast.

Daisy: Thank you. Like you rightly said, it's open to a more than one interpretation.

Am: Thank you.

Talon: Thank you. A pleasure to learn you liked the pictures.

Anu: Thank you. You could blame it on my meandering and rarely ever being in a hurry to get anywhere :-)

Ugich Konitari: Lovey poem. Imagine what it'd be like to not have Jharoka's to keep an eye on the street and the goings on.

Windows that overlook the street retain the oxygen that pumps into the street and beyond.

Magan: And how well the decorative features liven up Rajasthan streets. I hope the practice continues.

BluntB: Thank you. A pleasure to be told so :-)

magiceye said...

classic captures!

A guilty conscience said...

lovely post ......feeling nostalgic while the memories of my home is village surround me.....loved the feel dissolved.

R Niranjan Das said...

Beautiful door and an enjoyable script.

Amrit said...

Great pictures

Anil P said...

Magic Eye: Thank you.

G Conscience: Thank you.

Niranjan Das: Thank you.

A: Thanks.

Ramakrishnan said...

Nice pics of the old Jodhpur charm. Wonder how much longer these will remain intact before they are torn down and replaced by modern monstrosities in concrete.

Red said...

Visited Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur a while ago. I was amazed at how Jaipur was painted pink and Jodhpur was more of a bluer city. Don't know why but as explained to us blue was available more easily or held a natural element wrt the skies or something along the lines.

The blue door is very striking.

NRIGirl said...

That was a wonderful story from a part of the world I might never "see". Thank you Anil P and bring us more from around Jodhpur.

You sure have me wonder too about his conversation... I can say from the look on his face that it is someone he cherishes.

Amber Star said...

The door is interesting in the sense of its age contreasts with the man and his modern cell phone. Blue is a good color.

Anil P said...

R Ramakrishnan: Thank you. For an architecture style to survive, its worth needs to be understood by policymakers governing housing.

If every place looks the same as any other, there's little to look forward to in planning trips to Rajasthan or whereever else.

Red: Each is charming in its own way. From what I learnt as to why houses are painted blue in Jodhpur, was Jodhpur's Brahmin community chose to paint their houses blue, rather indigo colour. I'm not sure of the reason. One theory says, blue carries after the colour of Vishnu.

Apparently, other communities too have adopted the colour after the Brahmins started it.

NRI Girl: Thank you. Jodhpur is a fine place to visit.

Amber Star: Yes, blue is a great colour, the colour of the sky.

anan said...

a door and a man talking ...just three words and you pen a lovely story..will surely ask my students to read this one..and gather how to pen down thoughts.

Anil P said...

Anan: A man and a Door talking, listening - both :-)

A Sunny Yellow Window said...

Great photograph and the thoughts you weaved around it. Old cities, old charms remain, however high their brush with technology is.

Anil P said...

Ambika: Thank you. The charm is a distinguishing factor between then and now.