Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Portrait Stories from Rajasthan

The colorful state of Rajasthan offers a lot to the traveler. It has forts, palaces, beautiful bazaars, great food and lots of history. But, I connect the most with its people. I don’t want to sound biased, but sometimes I feel that they are the most hospitable state in India. The people of Rajasthan are so very nice and so eager to help people. I have been all around the state a multitude of times and have had my best people experiences in this state. The Rajasthani people have always welcomed me with both their hands and their warm hearts.

Local musician playing his music inside Jaisalmer Fort
Story: This old man with a very kind face was sitting outside the Jaisalmer Fort and playing this traditional musical instrument (Does anyone know the name of this instrument?) He seemed to be very content and happy playing his music and did not seem to be interested in receiving any money, but when our group gave him some money, he was overjoyed.

And since I like the people of Rajasthan so much, here is a short portrait story from my recent trip to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did while I spent time with these various personalities.

Rajsthani man with big moustache in front of his silk scarf shop at Jodhpur
Story: This Rajasthani man with the big moustache sells scarves at one of the souvenir shops in Mehrangarh Fort. He speaks French, Italian, English and Spanish fluently and is quite a good salesman. He was kind enough to give me tips on how to grow moustaches like his. He even shared some of his older photos and we shared a good laugh.

A street hawker selling peacock feathers at Jaisalmer
Story: This sardarji was selling peacock feathers in the Patwon ki Haveli campus where I spotted him. I tried engaging in a conversation with him, but he was more keen on selling his peacock feathers to me.

Flute Artist at Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur
Story: This Rajasthani man has been playing the flute for more than 35 years. I met him at Jasvant Thada in Jodhpur. His flute music echoes in the inner chamber and he charges tourists if they wish to record his music. If you just want to listen, it is free, he says.

Camel Mahout and his camel at Ossiyan, Rajasthan
Story: He is a part farmer and part camel mahout. During the tourist season, he takes his guests on camel safaris in the deserts off Ossiyan and when it is lean season, he either tills his small piece of land with his sons or does some odd jobs to make ends meet.

Rajasthani guard at Mehrangarh Fort, JodhpurRays of the setting sun on the jharokas of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Story: This guard at Mehrangarh Fort was kind enough to explain me Mehrangarh’s history for more than 30 minutes. He was happy to know that I am from South India and asked me questions on how I spoke Hindi so well. His entire family is associated with the Mehrangarh Fort.

Jain priest at Jaisalmer's Jain Temple
Story: I met this Jain priest at one of the Jain temples inside the Jaisalmer Fort. He was kind enough to talk about Jainism, the temple history and to pose for me.

Local Rajasthani Woman singing at Surygarh
Story: Rajasthani women are very shy and do not like to get their photo clicked. Hence, you don’t see portraits of women in this post, but this one is the exception. I saw this local village lady at Suryagarh. She was singing folk music and her voice boomed through the courtyard.

Local guard at Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Story: A very kind soul who noticed me on each of my visits to Mehrangarh and on my last visit, he asked me ‘ Aap pichle do din se aah rahe hain na?’. I said ‘Yes’ and began conversing with him. We spoke about his family, his work, the history of Mehrangarh, the raptor feeding tradition at Mehrangarh and much more. It was a pleasure conversing with him.

At a traditional carpet shop in Jodhpur
Story: I was with some Vietnamese girls who wanted to buy a silk carpet as a souvenir back home and they wanted me to bargain for them. While I was talking to him, I got to understand how he made the carpets sitting there with his hands and how they are 70% silk and 30% cotton and much more. The good news was that both my Vietnamese friends bought a carpet from him making him happy.

A Rawan Hatha Street Musician from Jaisalmer
Story: I met this musician in front of the Gadisar Lake. He plays the Rawan Hatha musical instrument and is from a village in the desert outside of Jaisalmer. He even showed me his Rawan Hatha music CDs that he sells to make a living. He was even kind enough to allow me to try playing his Rawan Hatha (unfortunately, I am not good with musical instruments and couldn’t get the hang of it).

At a Jodhpuri shoe shop in Jodhpur
Story: Another multi-lingual salesman, he sells Jodhpuri shoes at the Mehrangarh Fort. He was also one of those people who noticed me coming to the fort every day for the past 3 days and was curious to know why I visited every day.

Elderly Rajasthani Gentleman and the Jaisalmer view
Story: This elderly man is a guard at the Jaisalmer Fort. He was enjoying the breeze at one of the fort windows and on seeing me asked me to enjoy the breeze too. A quiet man, he obliged me to take his photograph.

Local Rajasthani boys on a holiday to Mandore garden, near Jodhpur
Story: These kids thought I was from Africa and started to practice their English with me, but when I started conversing with them in crisp Hindi, they were surprised, but warmed up quickly and started talking to me more. Typical inquisitive Indian questions and at the end of which, they wanted me to take their group picture and I happily obliged.

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