5:40 p.m. Sarai Rohilla station.
The Delhi-Jaipur double-decker express whistled to mark its journey onward and suddenly, a low tone was capturing my mind. My mind jumped cut to Mukul exclaiming, “Sonar Kella”.
Sonar Kella, ‘The Golden Fortress’ marked a milestone in Indian Cinema as well as Bangla literature, adding a golden feather to the master filmmaker’s hat. Satyajit Ray, one of the gods of Indian cinema did it all.
From literature to films, children’s fiction to adult aesthetic art l, everything that an artist can and should do, Satyajit Ray did it all. And as I began my journey towards the Land of Kings, all I had in mind was Ray and his work around Rajasthan. Gearing up for the experience, I unzipped my bag and took out the book, ‘Childhood Days’, authored by Satyajit Ray himself.
The book has two sections, one on his childhood and the other on making films. As the scenery outside was changing from urban landscape to open fields and dry, red hills, I was sinking in the book reading Satyajit Ray’s experience with camels, trains, sand dunes, and mirages; enriching my internal scenery and somehow expecting a lot from this short trip. It felt like a dream coming true. Traveling to a place where one of my favorite fictional characters once traveled to, seemed like an achievement.
Feluda, the Indian Sherlock Holmes, originally named as Prodosh Chandra Mitter in the film ‘Sonar Kella’ was traveling to Jodhpur with his set of Watsons, Topshe and Jatayu in search of Mukul and his golden fortress. And here I, consumed by wanderlust, was traveling to Jaipur to introspect my golden desires. But before I could finish re-reading the book or scheduling my future fantasy trips, I was welcomed by the multi-colored tiles, with a majority of the color pink, at the Jaipur platform. Jaipur, the Pink City of India became my first stop in the list of ‘places to visit’.
The whole idea of exploring self through different cities, different air, different tastes, and different cultures was giving me a thrill and somehow, in my two days trip, I had it all. From winning cheap deals at bargaining in the Johri Bazaar to acknowledging the tinge of extra ginger in the chutney served along with Samosa, the city embraced me with all its warmth. Each place had something new to present. The whole city was painted with strokes of royalty.
Somewhere a patterned balcony says something, somewhere the colored glass gives you a new perspective and somewhere a huge gateway will make you recall your history lessons.
A city like Jaipur will give you all.
Not to forget my visit to Nahargarh and Jaigarh forts and the beautiful Jal Mahal on the way, that contributed to the divine stream of thoughts within me and all I could think of was Keats, whispering, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” As I was strolling through the lanes, trying to sieve my vocabulary to define my observations, my experience, the quote was getting embossed in my consciousness. I didn’t care to struggle as I could see my answer right there. In a corner, I saw a shack lit with only two bulbs but even then the array of colors reflecting from the jewelry, the handicrafts, the costumes etc. defined Jaipur in one word for me. Rangeela. Yes, colors.
My blank canvas like mind was enveloped with colors. And what do colors do? They pump up life. And suddenly I could appreciate the gang if giggling women, making extra noise from their jangling jewelry; street photographers extending a hand to let you make a memory; a burka-clad woman enjoying cotton-candy with her lover and children demanding camel rides.
So, this was Jaipur. The real Rajasthan for me. And as the dawn broke and it was time to travel back home, I re-opened the book to embrace the colors, the life that this land of kings had to offer, expecting a return as soon as possible to some other stop on this big cloth of royalty stretched from north to west of the country. I crumbled back into my seat by the window but this time, I had an envisioned mind and ‘golden’ desires in my heart. The double-decker whistled and the Feluda tune was again set on rewind.
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