As we left Delhi on Christmas Day, I remember looking up into the deep blue sky and seeing Falcons circling overhead. I find those birds so majestic and graceful, yet this was in such complete contrast to the chaos that reigned below. I wondered if any of the madness reached up to their currents. Inside of me there was a king of longing to be part of those currents too, to escape this madness. Maybe somehow my wish was communicated to the evil Greater Fog demons because our flight to Jodhpur was delayed for four hours.
It may sound crazy, but in a way it was almost a relief to be surrounded by plain white walls and newspapers in ENGLISH. There were advertisements that boasted Indian faces, but the slogans the world over say BUY, BUY, BUY. I realised that for the first time in a long time I was suffering from culture shock. I settled into my orange bucket seat, flicked through the Indian newspapers that were almost similar to British Papers, but just not so, and gave myself some time to reflect, breathe and kind of smiled.
There is a wonderful paradox about culture shock. The negative side was like a slap across the face when I espied McDonald's and realised why people are comforted by the sight of it in other countries. Further down this dark road was when I began to question my 'traveller mettle'. It's not as if it's the first time I've flown across the globe before. No, it isn't! But it is the first time I've stepped onto the subcontinent. And that's when the smile began to spread. Those hours of delay had allowed me to soak up the 'difference' and left me longing for more. I was now impatient to wanted to get to Jodhpur. I had a third Fort to visit, presents to buy, things to see.
We rolled into the Blue City just as the sun was setting and the Christmas lights were beginning to twinkle. We sat on the hotel roof top peering into the darkness at the silhouette of the Fort hanging off the cliff edge and then decided to amble to the market. I sniffed vibrantly coloured spices from my childhood, which made me wish that I cooked a little more nowadays. We wandered into a textile emporium and even though they spread their intricately embroidered wares before us they seemed as lethargic about selling as we were about buying. Being in Rajasthan was enough for us that evening, we had stepped through the magic doorway to the land of fairy tales.
Images show a lesson in mixing Garam Masala at the spice stall in Sardar Market and the Clock Tower in the Market Place.