It’s my twelfth day in Jodhpur. Contrary to people often mistaking me for being a Marwari, I have never even set foot in this part of Rajasthan earlier. Born and brought up in S.E. Rajasthan called Mewaar, the language, dressing and food is strikingly new. Hands down, it is the best place I have lived in so far, in 27 years of my life on this planet. This is the textbook picture of Rajasthan which often suffers stereotyping at the hands of general public in the form of rich food, royal language, bright coloured turbans,poshaaks and of course, the sand and heat. It is also the hottest place I have lived in so far, and it feels like walking in a furnace all day long.
People: Jaipur was my rebound love after the tough and painful year and half in Southern India. Jaipur was pink, comfortable, practical, fast-paced and brought me new career opportunities. Jodhpur feels like a festival. People here are exceptionally warm, welcoming, kind, generous and go out of the way to accommodate you. There is very less class-consciousness and inequality visible. Irrespective of who you are and where you come from, the respect and joy you feel here from a stranger or a random passerby is something that is rare otherwise, except in our rural areas all over the country. People here rightfully assert themselves over you and take offense if you try and set boundaries. Certain things which are considered “manners” and “being polite”, come naturally to everyone here. From the moment you set foot in Jodhpur, you’re one of its own. The place loves you like a Mother. People here are also very strong. Physically as well as emotionally. It can be the evolutionary advantage or survival instinct borne out of desert. Regardless of their personal traumas, they ensure that they give and receive compassion equally. That is an important quality. Most of us don’t know how to give, and a lot of us have problem receiving without feeling overwhelmed.
Language: First off, there is no language called “Rajasthani”. There are 72 odd dialects spoken in the state which are completely different from each other. I have grown up listening to Hadauti on my mother’s side and Mewaari on my father’s side. To my ears Marwari sounds like pure music, having only heard it in ETV News and some folk songs and stories earlier. Along with its accent, it is the most musical, respectful and softest language ever. I have started speaking broken Marwari myself and i am catching up with the accent fast. It is surprisingly going slower than learning Kannada, probably because of it being hindi-base I take it for granted. Kannada was new turf altogether so I put in dedicated hours and effort. I often mix up tenses in Marwari which makes me sound hilarious.
Food: It is RICH and generous! Officially, Jodhpurites are bigger foodies than I am. One simply cannot go hungry or even go “looking” for food. It is everywhere ! Also, super yum. People will take offense if you refuse their offering. People will not wait for you to offer to them either, it is understood and a natural law sort of thing. The Mirchi Bada and Pyaaz Kachori are not so famous for trite reasons, I have understood well !
Weather : It is unforgivingly hot. So hot that all you need to do for rotis and popcorn is to walk out with some flour and corn seeds and you have them cooked in your hands. The eyes burn and pain all day long and I developed some skin issues within first four days due to extreme heat exposure. There is sand everywhere, no matter how many times you sweep your house. There is sand in nostrils and eyes and ears and furniture and books. It is very important to keep hydrated and eat well, since the body loses water unbelievably fast. After 1.30 AM, the sand and hills cool down rapidly and if I don’t regulate temperatures, by 4 AM I find myself shivering. By 6.30 AM it is already hotter than usual, again. The mirage effect is common even on roads.
Dressing: I am in love with the vibrant colours and comfortable clothing that allow both, royalty and air to pass through you. The poshaak worn by women has certainly caught my imagination and admiration.
City: Areawise, the city is huge. Otherwise, it has all the qualities for a perfect combination of tradition and modernity. The posh areas have buildings in red sandstone which are spacious, elegant and airy. The old city is all blue in an attempt to ward off heat. The traffic and population feel like a breath of fresh air after Bengaluru and Jaipur. Public transport still has a long way to go, but the generosity, warmth and politeness of every human being including the autowallah and shopkeepers and fruit vendors here kinda sorta makes up for every small and big trouble.
Patriarchy: A lot of it is visible in families and social structure, and audible in everyday stories, conversations and narratives of people. It is something more than the south eastern belt and certainly worse than Madhya Pradesh. Women have internalized and accepted it as something that they cannot change and find solace in camaraderie. Somehow, the cliches of virtue, honour, bravery and glory overlook what seems obvious and frankly quite sore to my eyes.
The place overall has a happy vibe. It is also an exciting place because the skies are almost always clear and cloudless, making it the perfect setting for my telescope. I am unsure as to how many more days or weeks I have in the city, and except the heat and usual office chaos, Jodhpur already feels like somewhere I belong. ❤