Friday, May 29, 2009

I luv Jaipore....

You read that right - I luv Jaipore. The olde Jaipore. Vastly different from Jaipur. The destination I was once nuts over ( so many amazing fashion shoots! Such lovely, romantic memories!!) Jaipore used to be The Pink City of Hawa Mahal fame. Polo. Gayatri Devi. Palaces. Painted elephants. Exquisite Jadau. All those wonderful turn -ons which once made a visit to the place a magical experience. Life transforming on so many levels. No wonder Brit aristocracy went ga ga over this little jewel.
I was back after two years or so.... and had to constantly rub my eyes and ask my minders if I was indeed in Jaipur ( Jaipore is obviously dead). There is very little pink left in the Pink City, which now resembles an ugly, impersonal,concrete urbanscape, devoid of any character or charm. I could have been anywhere. That has become the lament all across India, particularly in B-Grade cities . They is zero town planning as greedy, unscrupulous developers buy up prime property and construct monstrous structures that strip away any semblance of aesthetic appeal. Hideous malls, multiplexes and other commercial zones have killed Jaipur's unique identity, and I really wanted to cry!
What hasn't changed so far is the unbelievable street food! Those piping hot kachoris. That kesar-flavoured malai lassi! And the unbeatable hospitality old families like the Tholias and the Kapoors! Thank God for friends. I felt better after they consoled me and offered an explanation. Madame Chief Minister ( Vasundhara Raje - no longer c.m. but her ghost lingers), must have been in a huge hurry to 'develop' Jaipur. In the bargain, she okayed the ghastliest plans that led to over- building followed by the gigantic real estate crash. Most of the projects lie abandoned now. The builders have run out of money or are under investigation. Not that it helps. Those structures are still around. But the people of Jaipur are just so glad they've seen Madame's back. Their hopes are pinned on Ashok Gehlot, the present c.m. whom they are hoping will bail out the state, now that the Congress is in power at the centre, too.
That apart, I had the best time, even though it was 43 degrees centigrade in the shade, and I was sure I'd get a sun stroke in the crowded Johari Bazaar, where I was shopping for leheriyas and jhumkas. I found both and came back to Mumbai with a borrowed suitcase which held my purchases. The flight was horribly late, and Jaipur airport isn't the best. But I survived. I went to the newly opened Anokhi Cafe with Mita ( a first rate literary person, who does a zillion things), and then chief guested at the Pearl Fashion Academy's annual function, which featured shows put together by 30 young designers from the graduating class, along with a few post-grad students. Long and exhausting. But it was great to see these talented kids displaying innovative designs.
I didn't spot a single peacock on this trip. Not surprising - where's the tree cover? But I did enjoy an extraordinary meal cooked by wonderwoman Mita. She deserves a sonnet. But I'm not Shakespeare.

36 comments:

Zlaek said...

Most places change. However badly we want them not to. It's very disappointing, when we're looking for something totally different! But what to do?

But the food was super, so cool yeah! :D

Gajendra said...

hmmmm, our planet is changing for the worse :(, didnt know what else to say...

ZiLliOnBiG said...

thats the sad state everywhere in India. Economic boom, come see Kerala, its worse. It would in few years be called "devils own country" . I agree Rajeshthani Khaana is a treat. Ciao:))

Sharad said...

Rightly said - Jaipur is changing. The sad part is that it is changing slow and in an unplanned manner. We have a chief minister who think 'chora-choriyan' roaming hand in hand is vulgarity. Against the tradition: against the pinkness!
What good is the pinkness of Jaipur if it cannot provide its citizens a career? What good are the 'traditions' if our villagers feed on 'sogra' with raw onion and vote in flocks? The developers are corrupt and lack vision - agreed. 'Traditionalists' and 'Heritage-brigade' aren't good either. While Gujarat is attracting MNCs despite a hitler of a CM, Rajasthan is gettings is getting its walls painted pink and blue! Sad indeed!

Ads said...

I cannot agree more about what you have said about the pink city - which when I visited for the first time - an year ago - failed to impress me. But the blame should not be put entirely on politicians and builders. I was in the Pink city in the middle of Diwali and all the occupants - residents and shopkeepers alike - had little or no regard for the space being occupied. There was tremendous amount of filth being generated by people discarding food, plates, water bottles. There were stray animals in abundance to supplement the trash and making an even better manure! There were so many wires hung across the street that not even one picture of the hava mahal is devoid of it. Does it all really look good?? What is the use of making them all have similar name plates for their shops and making them use a similar wall colour?? Why only blame the municipality for being unable to take care of this older part of the city when citizens themselves lack any civic sense whatsoever?

Sidhusaaheb said...

I've seen the same kind of 'development' in Patiala (even while the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Patiala was the chief minister of Punjab). It's a lamentable state of affairs!

Sameer said...

Thanks Shobhaa for this update. I have never been to Jaipor but always wanted to go. In fact this winter, when we are planning our trip to India, we were thinking of visiting Jaipor (or is it Jaipur now). I feel same about my city - Pune. Growing up, there was so much calmness and rhythm to the life but now when I visit Pune, what I see is the most polluted, noisy city with all the multiplexes and malls sprung over city. Gone are those days is exactly I feel like as well for my Pune. :) But oh well, that's life and so called modernization !!

LumousP said...

Thats the sad state of being. from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. ppl would flock to NE India in search of wild jungles and blue mountains and would encounter a mini Gurgaon in Guwahati, instead. still, much remains same here tho. "Mainland" India under-went too much 'modernization' to become the hollow state of concrete jungle it is now.

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

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Riaz-NJ said...

Yesterday night I was watching a documentary about Colombian tribes in Link TV. They call us, "younger brothers", it is a real shame that how we messed up this planet while losing our own peace !!!

*Aham* said...

Aiyyoo, 43 degrees and that too dry air. I would have never attempted to buy Jhumkaas... I would have infact refused to move out of my AC room.
__________________________________

Late flight! Thats news. I now feel trains reach faster than flights. Hope after the Navi Mumbai Airport things should be better.

_________________________________

I feel De, amchi Mumbai is better in completing building projects...

It is sad that ethnic architecture almost hamesha takes a back seat.

___________________________________

Hugs to Mita for give our blogdost some cool company during this garma garam visit. :)

rahul mahendra said...

There are too many monkeys in the temples of Jaipur which were being made fun of by my Greek friend :(

Jai Rajputana !

Shachi said...

I felt the same way about Jaipur during my recent trip there in January. I have always traveled through Jaipur during my trips to Agra from Ahmedabad, and have seen the transformation (sort of). It is just an ordinary city now...before it was not.

You are right about the kachoris - I love them :)

trr said...

Jaipur is my fav place.
Did you shop at Cottons & Amrapali?

Priyadarshini Karanjai said...

Kolkata has changed to Oh! Calcutta. I'm here after five years and except for the Howrah Bridge and food, you dont really connect to the city of joy.

Instinctive Traveller said...

I've never been to Jaipur. But I've always wanted to be there. If there's any dream destination for me, it's Jaipur. And now you tell me it's no longer there. : (

Shouldn't places like Jaipur, or for the matter the whole of Rajasthan be selective about modernisation/industralisation? You can build your universities, hospitals, IT companies and stop with that.

As for modern buildings, those glass and steel structures should be taxed double or three times, why not? If you want to build monstrocities, then pay for them. Wouldn't such a tax deter ugly, non-conforming construction?

roflindian said...

Nice to know you're still in love with this city. My greetings.
Rofl Indian (Jaipur)

alx said...

Its strange when people take certain places for granted.They want it to be the way, they want it to be.How mean!Just imagine what Mumbai & DElhi would be without those malls.The sprouting malls ,the investment that is put being pumped in are signs of Jaipur's development.At one place you criticize the real estate cash & at another place you criticize a not so great Airport - which are in fact related to each other.Even Jaipur has to grow Mam.It cannot rest on its medieval past and stagnate.

Jaipur has been my adopted home for the past 3 years as a student, there is no doubt about the fact that this is the city to visit - a city which boasts of an almost perfect mix of tradition & modernity.A place where most of us would love to settle in spite of the money & muscle power which calls the shots.

Deepak Murthy said...

Interesting comment Ms Shobha De. Wondering why Jaipur is called Pink city. Is it because men can dress up like women (its all hormonal and internal for me). I prefer being a heterosexual (both male+female) instead of a homosexual (either male or female).

Thanks,
Deepak

maha said...

amazing facts about jaipur...

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