I HAD A FEEING THAT I WILL LIKE JODHPUR ONCE I ARRIVED YESTERDAY EVENING. Kites were flown everywhere due to the national holiday of ‘Makki’, a celebration of brothers and sisters. Jodhpurians are in their festive mood when brothers visit their sisters and give them presents and money. Sisters give the brothers good luck bracelets in return. Ahh… the joys of having siblings.
Jodhpur is well known for its majestic fort, the largest of its kind in the whole Rajasthan, and despite the congested traffic, lies a charming presence of a rural village. It is definitely less touristy here, and people are much more friendlier.
“Do not beg for money, we have to work for money,” I said firmly, giving a long lecture to a boy who begged while I was on the streets. The boy was eight or nine years old, has clean clothes and speaks decent English. He approached me asking about my country and later along with his non-English speaking friends, asked me for money.
“You are smart, study hard and become a doctor or engineer someday, OK?” I repeated but now with more empathy. I guess they were just begging for fun, and not desperate for money. The boy nodded, startled at first, but smiled later with understanding. I went on my way, hoping that I have made a change.
Language barriers do affect the depth of friendship. One of my best friends in the guesthouse is English-speaking ten-year-old Sunny, who hates sweets but loves chocolate. He and his cousins hangout at this family-run guesthouse and is the main interpreter between me and the kids. He kept on thinking that I am Japanese but we really had great time dancing to Bollywood songs. And also spending time poking at the old photographs of his ancestors with the Maharaja.
The guesthouse’s Dada and Dadi (grandparents) speaks a little English too, hence becoming perfect guides to my questions about their kitchen. I was offered sadhus (sweets made from rice flour) and melai. After the kitchen experience, I now feel like a part of the family.
My guesthouse’s owner flying a kite on the rooftop along with hundred of other villagers nearby
Sunny, a funny little boy, son of the guesthouse’s owners, who became one of my best friends in Jodhpur
Sunny and his beautiful family
Moti, an internet cafe/small convenience store owner
Ramniwas meeting me at the internet cafe. He gave lots of help and advice, and took time to accompany me during my stay
MY HOST FOR JODHPUR, RAMNIWAS, WAS BUSY WITH A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, but he did bring me to his house for dinner and a long chat. I found answers to some of the questions haunting me for the last three weeks, and got to play with his two very energetic daughters.
His wife made really good chapatis and cabbage curry which was not spicy, especially for me. The night was the pinnacle of my Indian experience, and I did not want to leave. Ramniwas was such a considerate host, he made sure that all my plans are well arranged and even got a prepaid mobile number so I can contact him during emergencies.
This is to me, genuine hospitality a brotherhood at its best. I felt so much at home today, that all the homesickness went away. If this is what homely India offers, I would be glad to stay for months.