When I got down from the plane I looked around to find a deserted piece of land.
Where is every one? Where are the people of Jaipur?
When the craft crew bade us, into the escort buses, I was still thinking if I was in a game mode or our aircraft was, genuinely, the only one on airport. While I was thinking that I had a view of a pipe being forcefully stuck, at the bottom of the nozzle of another aircraft, by around five people.
Thankfully I saw another plane, even more thankful that it wasn’t, by any chance, my next flight.
A minute into the bus and then at airport, I encountered complete silence welcoming me to the pink city. Glass doors opened to dry air and before I could take my luggage from the conveyor, I directed my pace to the restroom for a relief. Sobs and cries of an airhostess, in the bathroom, similar to ones we have at railway stations, kind of turned off my excitement of visiting a new place. Diverting my face with nasty expression, towards the exit, I lifted my luggage and carried myself off to the open.
“Padharo Maare Des”, Ah! The tune lingered in my head, exactly how it is sung in the authentic saas bahu sitcoms like Balika Wadhu, on Indian Televisions, I thought, looking at the sign of the airport wall that separated me from the roads.
I hit the roads, on a local bus, well yes, after being bugged by local autoriksha-walas who asked me, constantly where I wanted to go, ‘Haa, Madam kaha jaana hai, aiye’. I did reply back in a mocked tone, that I am going via bus then why are you asking me, to which they replied
Hmari apni gaadi hai, We have our auto that is why we are asking.
Don’t know what that meant but here I was, in a bus, with scarcely occupied seats, even lesser people. Attracting few glances, I sat nearest to the front door, reserved for the women and asked the conductor and driver to let me know when the Sindhi Bus Stand arrives. Roads were good but empty. I wondered if Sunday was so quiet at Bangalore, people would have definitely migrated somewhere else.
An aunty sat beside me, and finally I got to see how, people dress up here in West. Nothing much, a sari, with the pallu(veil), draped over the head, basic makeup which included a dark shade of maroon lipstick and kajal, bunch of colorful bangles in each hand, dangling earrings and a impeccably glinting nose pin. I asked her if she knew when my stop would come. She replied it was far ahead and exclaimed that it must be difficult with luggage and that I should ask the driver/conductor to inform me when the stop arrives. The bus was packed and there were curious glances that found me a bit intimidated, one among them, staring at me continuously. I was relieved when he got down some time later. The bus ran through few empty and wide stretches of roads and after one hour of hurling against traffic lights and the traffic, I finally reached Sindhi camp bus stand.
The bus dropped me about 50 meters away, from where I asked the way to the bus stand. People helped me out of courtesy. But I showed no signs of
‘Oh my God, I should have recharged my net pack for GPS in this unknown place’
and carried myself with confidence, as I had read in one of the travel tips, on travelling alone. An over cautious uncle, on being asked the way, told me to take care, as there was a heightened rate of abductions and murders in Jaipur, after telling me the way. Sure I was aware how far he walked along until he disappeared in the crowd. Through the corner of my eye, I kept a glance at him, just in case he turned out to be the burglar he was talking about. You know, like sarcastic villains in movies.. 😛
The place smelled pathetic until I finished my walking and headed straight to the Government bus, besides which the conductor constantly cried out my destination, Ajmer.
They charged 150 rupees, less than any other online ticketing sites, though the bus stopped in between for quite some time, charging more to the people, who got onboard from successor stops after me. The journey of two hours was comfortable; the seats weren’t all that bad. Sufficiently sufficing my journey needs, I took water bottle and some snacks from local vendors who would get on and off the bus, at the various bus stops it passed by. Network would puff off on the way, as the bus traversed through the arid lands. Villages, shrubs and fewer trees covered most of my view. Soon the mild winter wind drove me to sleep, amongst the sound of the engine that seemed to clear its throat after every change of gear.
I didn’t realize, I arrived in the tiny district, covering a total of 135km from the pink city. Oh and by the way, the pink city isn’t that pink except for few building made of red sand stone, straight out of the Aravali hills of Western Ghats. I was surprised to find that the Ajmer bus stand held more crowd than Jaipur airport. The journey didn’t end here though.
I was happy to see my friends who had come to receive me. We all got into the car and plunged into the merry yet seemingly old place, that somehow took me back in time. Houses and shops, showing off, not more than the purpose they served, stood not so tall. Luckily, I had the free view in a populated place, even from the car window, the one in which you look up to see the whole stretch of sky, even the horizon sometimes. No concrete forest, no skyscrapers, no honks, no traffic, no dust, emissions. With Ajmer, it was love at first sight.
This journey through Rajasthan was to encounter a cultural twist with a Bengali wedding that I was going to attend.
Check out this space to know how Rajasthani and Bengali culture and traditions blended to create some of the most memorable moments and why I promised myself that I am going to come back to the district once more.