Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quenched sentimentalist: Rabb bhi Deewana Laage re

Bias is a passionate vehicle. When I first visited India in 1994, I hated it. My arrogant teenage sense was easily offended by the superficial grime and slime of cities that are burdened by the sprawl of their citizens demands on match-stick infrastructure. But then, India made certain that I fell in love with her before I left, and I have travelled back and forth more than a dozen times since.

Needless to say, I have never encountered a more resilient, more colourful, or a more diverse, emotive country as India is. And she makes this claim rather unpretentiously. But it holds fast in the minds and hearts of all who must make their way through her at some point; those who must, inevitably, be drawn to her, and who will fall madly in love with her as I have.

We touched-down in Mumbai on 20th January before we flew on to Jaipur. Tomorrow, after some eighteen months, I will be reunited with the energy that is Mumbai, the same vibe that echoes in my veins.
The romance of Rajasthan is unmistakeable; age old charm embraces the city within, while every conceivable public space is fragrant with the whisper of the poets of old. At the airport, instrumental background music brought the words of the old maestros to my lips. We dined and stayed at places called Peshawari, Jal Mahal, and Rajputana; then went on to fraternize in heritage sites like the Diggi Palace and the Birla Auditorium. We walked the streets of the Pink City and were embraced by the same winds that would have veiled a different era of nobility, grandeur and impression. The verse of the ghazal singers lingers in our ears. It's the begin of the Basant season. And not coincidentally, its also the begin of the wedding season. Everywhere we go, we are met with wedding processions led by boisterous walking drummers, tamboreen artistes, trumpeteers. The bridegrooms follow on horses bedecked with flowers, jewels, finery not very unlike the armour that they themselves have worn.

The images fade to a blur on my last night here. But the scent of celebration remains. And Mumbai beckons to me. Farewell, Jaipur... The memory of a beautiful week overwhelms me, makes my head reel. There is something magical about the soul of a city filled with contemplating, reflective people from around the world, brought together at one point to share sips of something to quench the restless seeker.

Quenched, indeed.


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