Friday, 30 June 2017

Quick Visit in Jodhpur - The Blue City of India

Jodhpur the blue city was not as amazing as I thought I would be. Narrow streets and zig zaggy roads through dusty and mysterious alleys wandering and I found nothing but the common Indian people. Pretty boring. Then again it was a nice change of pace instead of people hassling you all the time to buy something.

Jodhpur The Blue City - India

Inside the Zig Zaggy Roads of Jodhpur

Jodhpur Blue Painted Buildings
I mostly went exploring with another English guy (Ned) which stayed at the same hostel. We walked quite far away from the tourist area and nearly ended up near the old outer walls. Into those streets children were playing doing their own thing till they saw a white boy and a yellow boy. We gathered a fan club …. And it was fun till one of the boy decided it would be fun as well to ask for money. 

Time for an Indian Escape Run …. Still it was fun with those kids laughing and mischievous all the time 

There is only one main attraction in Jodhpur and that was the stunning fort structure sitting above the city and by keeping it in sight we could navigate the city and know where we were all the time. Entrance to the fort was expensive by Indian standards at 500 rupee a visit but it included an audio guide which gave fantastic information causing me to be stuck at the fort for nearly 3 hours. 

Jodhpur Fort

Jodhpur Fort Entrance

Jodhpur Fort

Jodhpur Fort

Opium Set at Jodhpur Fort

Fine Arts inside Jodhpur Fort

The walls inside Jodhpur Fort
The blue city was also not really that blue. Only patches of houses were blue and not every single corner. Walking among them one would see the occasional all blue house to snap a picture but only at the high point of the fort one could see all the patches of blue together and imagine that the city was surrounded by water instead of desert. 

Outer Edge of the Old Wall - Jodhpur

It was a nice city Jodhpur but with the heat it was not a nice place to hang around too long.

Travelled on : Aug 2015

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

More Tuk Tuk Barganing Stories - Jodhpur

Jodhpur. I arrived late in the afternoon around 3pm, dropped off by the bus again to a hoard of autorickshaw vulture. Seams the bus has a trend of leaving people at last stop nowhere near the city but somewhere in between and these rickshaw drivers knew that they would have business everytime a bus arrive. Even worst when they spot a foreigner like me their eyes lights up like fireworks.

This time I was prepared although hungry I knew where the hostel was around 3km from where I was dropped off. Google map was marked and I had leverage of daytime with me. 

Blur City of Jodhpur - India
How much to Zostel …. (Zostel is a chain Hostel in Rajasthan State in India) 

I have better hotel he said … good room, restaurant, view bla bla bla … 

I have booking … how much to Zostel …. 

150 rupee sir … very good price 

NO !

It is very far sir … 150 rupee is a good price 

NO …. shaking my head Indian style now ....

How much ? 

NO .... shaking my head and laughing like a crazy person

Ok 120 rupee come lets go 

NO … I know where the hostel is … its only 3km that way ….

OK best price 80 rupee ….

Nope …. No way …. I would pay at most 30 to 40 rupee only

Impossible sir …. 80 is the minimum … its IMPOSSIBLE to be lower than that ….

Ok since its impossible I will walk …. ( I buckle up my backpack and started walking )

Wait wait …. Ok sir … Indian price … 50 rupee … this is Indian price … 

NO …. Dun waste my time … I’ll walk …. ( All the while thinking how could the impossible 80 rupee became 50 rupee ) 

10 steps later

OK come … 

40 rupee ??

Yes yes .. come 

Somehow I feel I have won … but also wondering if I could have gotten it cheaper …. 

Traveled on : Aug 2015

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Fine Arts in Udaipur

Udaipur was a pleasant surprises. The bus stopped us way way far away from the centre and I had to get a rickshaw to Zostel Udaipur …. Game face time to get it done and after hard bargaining I got it for 60 rupee. It was pretty far and judging by the ride it would have took me 2 hours walking.

Zostel was closed … apparently the place had some water maintenance issue as well as electric current running in the water line. No shit. They recommended Shiva Guesthouse which was just round the corner. Walking into the guesthouse it was empty … no one home …. I decided to wait and a minute later a guy appear from the toilet.

Raj was the owner of the guesthouse and his opening price was 300 rupees for a night. I was genuinely surprised. It is quite rare that in India one encounters an honest businessman. I did not bother to bargain the price and just had a look at the room before agreeing to it. The place was slightly run down but the room was clean and there was hot water and wifi. That was all I need really plus it had a beautiful view of Udaipur lake and palace from its rooftop restaurant (which was close). I was the only guest there the entire 4 days.

Palace in the Center of the Lay of Udaipur
Udaipur was a charming city one of those few places in India where one could just laze back and chill out for a few days. Places after palaces all around with good amenities. Laundry services everywhere, food was abundant and good in taste and price.

Lovely View of Udaipur

Rajasthan Food in Udaipur - India

Markets were for the tourist but not at an exorbitant rate, instead it was better for tourist to shop at the tourist market. Usual market in India is spice market, jewellery market or sari market, things that you see a lot but would not really buy them.

Tourist market means there were lots of handicraft items and in Udaipur it was pretty good quality. It was the best place to get fine miniature paintings and even stone carvings or wood carvings. The variety was abundant and the craftsmanship was refine. I spend a lot of time in many shops in Udaipur looking at handicraft but only bought one Ganesha carving made of jade marble for only 200 rupee. It was a steal.

Paintings Everywhere in Udaipur Building

Painting Everywhere in Udaipur
The second thing I was looking for was fine miniature painting of RadhaKrishna …. There was many but the artist side of me became a critique and rejected most of them. At one of the shop, I lingered longer and when he realized I was looking at the art piece and rejecting them because of the lack of quality (it was already damn good but I was very insistent on finding that perfect one) he offered to show me the special collection.

Special collection was taken from a safe box and boy it was a work of art. I probably can’t afford this I said … I have never asked for a price so far … and he agreed I could not afford it, never even bother telling me the price. It’s not for sale anyway he said.

The place was ART Centre 39 Lal Ghat Udaipur – 9587229030

Piece after piece he took out and I marvel at the quality of the fine art. It was also rare for a shop owner to not mention any of the price. How much is this one I finally asked …..

That one is done by a professor …. not for sale ….

I know but how much is it worth I said ….. 70000 rupees

Some other piece he showed me was of good quality, much better than any that was on display in the shop but never as good as the professors work …..

This is good but not as good I said …

With a smile …. He said it was the work of a teacher level …. So apparently there is three levels in art. An artist then a teacher and finally a professor. He even showed me one that was drawn by his grandfather, a family heirloom and a few miniature that was drawn by him himself.

Why don’t you show this I asked …. All your paintings in the shop is nowhere close to the quality and refine in term of storytelling as these that you are showing me now from the safe ….

He said if these pieces were shown people would take photos and then try to copy them. Plus it’s too expensive anyway that no one would buy them …. Only those who value the work would pay for it so there is no point putting it out for display.

I left after nearly an hour of looking at his collection and chatting with him. Never once did he try to sell me something knowing that the inferior artwork did not interest me and the good ones were beyond my wallet ability. Only regret is that I could not take a photo to post in the blog and show the world.

Apart from the lake palace in Udaipur and a few museum that everyone visits and take a walk around the old city there was one other charm that was rare in India. They had a cultural performance show every night at Bhangali Ki Haveli where for a donation of 100 rupees one could see the vast cultural heritage life show for an hour.

The Building Outside to the Heritage Show - Udaipur
The performance was authentic Rajasthan dying art and culture from singing, dancing, puppet show and the grand finally of a women balancing pots on her head while dancing. When I say pots I means loads of pots …. In fact the pots at final stack of 11 pieces were taller than the woman that was dancing.

Truly a dying art for it was develop by women in the west of Rajasthan whom needed to walk very far to collect water and by stacking them and balancing them delicately on the head they would not have to made so many a trip. The woman whom performed the dance was an elderly women …. It takes years before one can even stack the pots let alone dance with it.

Udaipur Grand Temple



Traveled  on : Aug 2015

Monday, 19 June 2017

Ahmedabad …

Ahmedabad was a quick stop walk and run away for me. Worst thing was that it was moms birthday the day I arrived and after the usual tuk tuk bashing, hotel hunting and talking down to and making sure it was affordable within budget and still has free wifi if only in the lobby, I still could not send a happy birthday message to mom because social media is blocked in Ahmedabad. 

Apparently the state of Gujarat was in turmoil when I visited back in Aug 2015 due to some political issue of quota that the people wants the government to give them. The turmoil was so bad there was some riots and then curfew and lastly control of media hence the social media lockdown. Walking around and looking at the place during the day was alright and seems like a peaceful place but asking recommendation of what to do at night and the only answer is bed … 

You are not allowed to walk around at night ... There is a CURFEW … a pause and a momentary thought later the hotel receptionist adds … oh the curfew was lifted YESTERDAY … still I advise you to stay inside at night … I was there just a day after the curfew was lifted apparently…. Things was still not so good but outside in the web reports were such like a peaceful protest. 

Peaceful or not peaceful, it was time to quickly get Ahmedabad done and move on as I did not want to get stuck for no good reason. 

The city of Ahmedabad is huge but not much tourist attraction beyond a few sights. A few mosque here and there which was lovely for I was there alone visiting and for once no touts nor tourist within the foray. I saw one person in the mosque which was there for a prayer and I took my kneeling position to blend in while admiring the serenity of the place.

Inside of The Old Mosque of Ahmedabad
There was a lot of walking for me and lots of shops was closed …. Was it because of the Riot or because I was walking on a Sunday, I had no idea but it was a weird void of the people bustle that one get so used to in India. 

Ahmedabad Town
Since I figure out the taxi meter scam I was now within budget to travel further and see more using the tuk tuk.

Ghandi Holy Grail is here as well in Ahmedabad … I knew this from good ol KTan hence the stop in Ahmedabad for a visit. Ghandi house or ashram where he live with the community folks is in Ahmedabad. Irony that the holy grail of Ghandi where a great movement of non-violence took the world with such force was now reduce to the same as everyone else. 

Entrance to Gandhi Ashram

Gandhi Ashram - House in Ahmedabad
In the house was plain and simple, lots of historical timeline and newspaper clipping were put up in boards describing the greatness or the plainness of Ghandi everyday life. In a way reading the interesting extract of Ghandi without all the grandeur of revolution, seams to me that Ghandi was a very very eccentric man …

The thing he does makes no sense and yet he does them if to just prove a point that only he created the argument in the beginning. Safe to say … I would not be picking up any Ghandi book anytime soon …. 

The ashram was peaceful, no beggers no touts and even the taxi drivers outside was politely waiting for you to approach them instead of in your face … come come …. I can say Ahmedabad will be forgotten for it did not leave any impact on me.

I left the next day early morning catching a bus to Udaipur.