Thursday, January 27

When did you leave heaven

As the faithful reader (ahem, ahem) would know, I was to take a long-delayed family holiday a couple of weeks ago. Well, that holiday happened and our destination was Rajasthan, specifically Jaipur & Jodhpur. Now it'd be easy (and probably consistent with the whine-fest tone of the blog) for me to go on an extended bitching session about travelling with family, why I've never been an ardent fan of such holidays & how the most recent experience reinforced my beliefs. But, I've decided to try and turn over a new leaf and tone the "यह मेरे साथ ज़ुल्म क्यूँ, पर्वत्दिगर ?" down a notch. Instead, I want to try a short description on you, the very suspecting public.

The Jaswant Thada in Jodhpur is a mausoleum built completely of white marble. Further details can be found here. I can't exactly say how beautiful it was because, well... I can't. I'm no authority and I don't believe words can ever do complete justice to a personal experience (aka, I'm not a good enough writer, yet). I will say that the carvings were impressively intricate and the view of the city from the monument was very nice. Inside the building, peace is manifested in an almost physical state. The acute sense of 'hush' is probably not everyone's cup of chai, but I enjoyed it & were I by myself, would have spent more time there than I did.

What the websites & guidebooks failed to mention though, was the man in the traditional court livery of white dress & colourful 'patka' who sat on the right side of the pathway to the monument. Only he knew whether that seat allowed him to escape the fierce sunshine or to allow his dark eyes to rest on the greenish waters of the lake opposite. A thin rug that had definitely seen better days was the only thing between the man and the ground. A lunch box and a thermos probably containing hot chai sustained him throughout the day.

As I started on the path to the monument, he looked up, paused for an instant and then started to play a slow tune on the Sarangi. If you've never heard the instrument, I suggest you look it up on the internet. For me, in that place, at that time, it was like being struck on the face by the lamentations of Grief herself. If Pain, Longing and Comfort were ever to be weaved into a quilt, the thread would have to be drawn from that sound. Wave after wave of melancholy & anguish seemed to crash and ebb darkly around us, the effect heightened by the surreal cheerful blue skies framing the scene.

Jaswant Thada
People hurried past me, and him, anxiously on their way to photograph a mausoleum. I agonized over whether to go over and speak with him, afraid that if I did, the music would stop. I eventually decided not to. I did not take a photo. The picture could only have shown a man holding a bow and a stringed board.

Eventually, he stopped playing, no doubt miffed by the tourists' reluctance to part with any money. I too left for the next stop on the list. All that is left is this post, bereft of both a picture of him and a song. No matter. The effect of the music was much more, but it now reverberates in the deep unknown of my mind.         


Gauri Gharpure said...

The place is one of the many such that speak of past grandeurs and nostalgia. Only a sarangi, or an Ektara, simplicity so to say, can convey feelings of such an ambience.

And did you pay him???

girish said...

I didn't think of the instruments that way, but you are right.

No, I did not pay. Couldn't bring myself to do it & can't explain why.