Feb 27, 2011

Storming Rajasthan I - In search of my Blue City

Since I was a kid, I read stories about the brave Rajputs of Rajasthan, a Western state of India that now borders with Pakistan.  The palaces, the architecture, the vibrant colors, and the arid desert landscape, all of these elements had turned Rajasthan into a land of intrigue for me.  To top it off, when I watched the movie "Shonar Kella" (the Golden Fort) by renowned filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, I felt almost like the main protagonist, Mukul, who thought he lived in Jaisalmer in his past life!  I knew at that moment that Rajasthan had a lot to offer me, when I chose to pay her a visit.

Before leaving India for Vancouver, I had the opportunity to attend the wedding between our own Rajboori team member, Deepa and Suveer.  I enjoyed the amazing hospitality of her family and danced into the night with everyone.  After the two-day festivities, we departed for my "dreamland" - Rajasthan!

Our adventure began with a 550km drive from Delhi to Jodhpur, the Blue City as I knew it.  Now, in Western context of driving, this trip should not have taken more than 5-6hrs.  In terms of driving in India, even if we factored in road conditions, new construction, breaks, etc. it still could be somewhere within 10 hrs.  For us, it was a 17hr road trip! The brand new Tata Indica we had rented was driven by a very diligent man called Nitin, who paid close attention to every squeak and rumble that the car made.  Apparently, our car wasn't running as smoothly as he would hope for so we spent about 2.5 hrs hunting for car repair shops and a good bit at a Tata dealership!  At least, this provided me with a chance to see how a dealership handles it's clients in India.

After Nitin was somewhat satisfied and with a bill for Rs.2000, we resumed our journey.  The Delhi-Jaipur NH8 highway is a pleasure to drive on and will be even more so once the now 6 lane highway is transformed into an 8 lane one.  I had the pleasure of eating at the roadside "dhabas" which offered decent veg food without any fuss whatsoever.  The only element that didn't suit me well was the amount of oil and spices used but that added all the flavor in the dishes!

A long and tiring journey ended at midnight in Jodhpur at the Polo Heritage hotel, which was delightful with it's huge rooms with 20ft ceilings, marble bathrooms and a beautiful lawn.

Got a good night's rest before our exploration of the Blue city began in the morning.