Saturday, June 11, 2011

The 12th State

My latest addition to the very slowly moving list of states that I've stepped foot in is Rajasthan. I know it is almost shocking that having lived in Delhi for the longest time I could never venture a couple of hundred kilometres into the west. But whadyaknow! It just happens sometimes.

Finally it was Ridhima's wedding that took me to Jaipur.

I was not sure whether I would get a chance to do this trip or not, but I was certainly going to try my best to make it happen. Especially given the fact that I missed two outstation weddings last year. But a week or so before the trip, I felt that I should really use the opportunity to explore the city too. So what if it didn't come close to my wish of one-long-trip-to-Rajasthan-in winters. At 45 degrees Celsius, this would have still been worth it!

Then began the drama of not having anyone willing to go with me a day or so in advance. And God, my family can really sing the It's Unsafe saga a million times for the 100 times that I express the thought of doing something alone. So finally I sulked for about four days, and only left on a Sunday morning for the Monday wedding.

We touched Jaipur in four speedy hours including a stop at McDonald's Manesar to take away some breakfast. And after a second delicious breakfast later at Hotel Teej, Priyam, Swetha and I headed out to Amber Fort. Swetha has visited the city a zillion times and was only being nice in the heat. Priyam and I were the excited first-timers. Plus we have experiences like Ellora Caves in the heat to not get discouraged by the blinding sun. Now, we did not realise that one could take a car all the way up to the Fort. So we asked our driver to wait in the parking lot and decided to walk up. As always, Swetha was leading the pack and Priyam was trying hard to keep up. In the middle, as always, I was oscillating between I-can-do-it and oh-my-breath!. On the way up we met some goats and ignored some shady men. There was also a local family laughing away at some people who were apparently clicking pictures of a 'nullah' which they obviously thought of as a pretty water body. And I would have made the same mistake given that the picture of a nullah in my mind is faaar dirtier than what we saw there. And technically, it wasn't even a nullah! It was just a dirty pond which wasn't really so dirty.

Amber Fort
The Fort!

The road we could have taken to drive up

Beginning our walk up!




Swetha and Priyam suggested we take a guide to get a better feel of the place and I didn't mind the suggestion. Our guy (Damn, I've already forgotten the name! - some Mr. Sharma, I think.) was decent with the stories and wasn't too overbearing. We walked around enjoying the place, singing 'kehne ko jashn-e-bahara hai' not only because Priyam had a feeling that the place was Jodha-Akbar-ish but because the movie was actually shot there in parts.
And then we were facing the Sheesh Mahal! Remember I had mentioned in my last little travelogue that Sikri made me fall in love with it instantly and I wished that I too had a palace like that to live in? Well, Sheesh Mahal too instantly came in the same league, only I would still want to live at Sikri; at Sheesh Mahal, I want to get married! :D The place is perfect. The beauty, the dazzle, the mirrors - oh my god I could insert an html heart here!

Sheesh Mahal

My louley ladies!

After being contented looking at the little place, we moved on. Clicked a few more pictures, laughed a little more, wiped away some more perspiration and headed out straight to Hari Mahal Palace - the wedding destination! Oh, before getting into the car we had a glass each of awesome shikanji too! :D

Us, at Sheesh Mahal! :D
We were late for lunch but Ridhima's mom managed to get us some good food. Priyam and Swetha couldn't understand why of all the things I loved the rotis in the meal - they were just really really soft and perfect! We then moved upstairs to spend some time with the bride-to-be who was rehearsing for a dance performance with cousins and the groom-to-be. She soon left for the getting dressed process, and we came back to our hotel for the rest and refresh process.

We were not going to be late again and ended up being the first guests at the evening function. Even the photographer reached after we did. No complaints. We grabbed the best seats one could take after leaving some for immediate families. The Sagan and Chunni ceremonies went on smoothly. Ridhima looked beautiful. Priyam got expectedly sentimental. And I got unexpectedly sentimental. [The two of us also had a short, silent yet fun war for entirely different reasons.] While I still had tears in my eyes, the two Punjabi families began with the naach gaana. First we cheered along, and then we danced too. To be more precise, Priyam and I grooved along, and Swetha did some real dancing! Again, this was as per trend, nothing unusual.

Rested and Refreshed

We came back to our hotel around 1.30 a.m., I sent Avantika a scandalous SMS, we planned our next day, and then snored away.

The next morning was to come by too soon with alarms going off before 6.00 a.m. When my alarm rang, I decided to write it off and give my body  the rest it was asking for. But Swetha doesn't think like that. Alarm baj gaya, woh uth gayi! I could not be the bitch so early in the morning, so I dragged myself out of bed too. Of course, I was glad I did because I was the one who was most excited to see the Nahargarh Fort. I had even put a picture of the Fort in the PPT I sent to Priyam's official ID in the hope that she would get convinced to go to Jaipur a day in advance. :-| [Trivia: one of the best pictures that Google throws up of the Fort has been clicked by our very own Deepak Kumar].

We were going to stop by at Jal Mahal before heading to the Fort. We spent a few quiet moments of the relatively cooler morning there.

Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal's Sidekick as I like to call it

Priyam, Swetha, our driver, and our car in front of Jal Mahal
Then came the real bitch! No, wait. The drive was really nice. Our otherwise ordinary driver got an opportunity to show us that he can be good in the hills. The drive up reminded a little of Lavale. The view of the city as we moved up was incredible, the peacocks lining the street were a delight, and I could not wait for the sepia fort to open itself to my eyes.


Outside the closed Fort! :-|

Now the bitch! The official timings for opening of gates is 8.00 a.m. (I think that's also late) but nobody opens the darn place before 10.00 a.m! Who does that! In a city as hot as Jaipur! I have not heard of any other protected place waking up so fuckin' late! It was like a slap in the face for hoping that a Monday morning could be good. Hmph!!!
We could certainly not have waited that long. I wanted to kick those boys playing cricket there. Apparently Jaigarh Fort is no different. So we did not bother turning that way. And there we were - low on sleep with a ruined morning! And if only we knew that this was the case, we could have easily slept, gone there in the afternoon just like we did the previous day for Amber Fort, and happily attended the wedding too.
I have to admit that I was getting confused whether I was there to attend the wedding or to explore the city, but one has to agree that this was a huge waste given that it was the only day we had.

We got back to the hotel, again ate a lot at the amazingly yumm breakfast table, slept just a little bit, and headed out for Ridhima's Chooda ceremony. It was a first for all of us. But for Swetha it was an absolutely alien thing. So she enjoyed it the most.


As you may have guessed by now, we had no intentions of taking it easy on this trip. So after Chooda and lunch, we went to Johri Bazaar to shop for silver! :D Priyam bought a pair of earrings to ensure she enjoyed her Pirates of the Caribbean premiere more. Swetha bought something simple and elegant for work. And I was on a trip of my own! One for some occasion, one for formal wear, one for daily wear, one for the sis-in-law, I had obviously, I think expectedly, lost it! Without doubt I went over-budget. And to no surprise, I later showed the sis-in-law what I bought for her and then told her that I am keeping it! :P Arre, in the morning we had done some chappal shopping where I had bought a pair for her too!

Finally, the be all of life, potty, took over and we all just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

We were again the first guests. Now for the wedding....

Our driver had taken permit to stay in the city for two days. Now, those two days expired at midnight. We were obviously not going to leave the wedding just because he had to cross the border before that. So we made a few phone calls and managed to make arrangements to be late by an hour or so.  We were anyway not going to stay for the pheras because Swetha and Priyam had managed to get only one day off. But managing to catch the Jai Mala was going to be a challenge.

....the baraat was late. And that is when we finally got a chance to spend a few quality minutes with Ridhima. Alone. It was such a... feeling of having grown up! Memories of the hostel were coming back, the feeling of anticipation for the night and for her life ahead was around, and somewhere at the back of the mind was the thought about being in the same place as her in the (near) future.

We welcomed the baraat with the cousins and some other friends of Ridhima's but we knew that was it! We did not have time to eat, and we certainly did not have time to wait for the Jai Mala. We all hated it, but I think I was feeling worse because I knew I was personally not in a hurry. I had an off the following day. BUT! Time was ticking, and the next ten minutes were the funnest of the two days! We hurriedly walked out to our car, got the boot open, threw in our shoes and accessories, changed into chappals, pulled out our travel clothes, and rushed back in to the women's room. Some people noticed. Thankfully nobody came in to use the washroom while we were there. Some entangled sleeves of fancy clothes and hurried flushes later, we paced out. Apparently I looked the funniest with my oh-so-comfortable wraparound skirt/lungi.

Our driver sped. I watched packs of chips being passed by as we tried to reach the border within our time limit. I died of hunger until I found some saunf in my handbag. We also met a stupid traffic jam on NH8. And then I almost fought with some random guy on Twitter too. Bleh!

Our taxi bill was the thing that actually went over-budget. It was almost obscene. I was the last one to be dropped and reached home at 4.30 a.m. I don't think we had managed to cross the border even at 1.00 a.m. And I know nobody gave a damn about our permit. Sure we would have landed into some trouble if things had gone by the rule. But then, we did miss the dinner. Oh, I mean the Jai Mala. But no denying that we were there for Ridhima's wedding. There is photographic evidence.



The entry to the 12the state could not have been any better than this! I will of course go back to fulfill my wish of doing a long trip in Rajasthan in WINTERS!


P. said...

How I love this post!

But, why do I get to be the expectedly sentimental! :|

And OMG, that clothing change in the restroom was indeed one of the most hilarious moments of my life! Enhanced because I had two more people with me on it :)

RB said...

To aur kya..expected hi tha! Nahi? :)