Monday, October 24, 2005

A Desert trip

We visited Rajasthan last weekend. Jodhpur's impressive Mehrangarh fort tired us with its beauty. Unfortunately for my friend who wanted to breathe in the beauty of every sculpture on the hill, the other two of us werent the sculpture-breathing variety. We were more interested in observing foreigners being flummoxed into taking auto-rides and buying Indian spices at princely prices.

The practice of grafting has developed into an Art form. One could find auto wallahs, hoteliers, guides, restaurants, antique sellers, gift shops taking turns in extracting money from foreign tourists in various ways. But it was a small dilemma whether to intervene or not. Arent even airlines in India charge differential rates for foreign nationals ?

The magnificient palace of the Jodhpur Maharajah impressed me for all the wrong reasons. While the plaques and exhibits in the museum sing praises about his drought relief measures for the poor in 1930's, His Highness's concern for the poor didnt come out very strongly in the middle of the Officer's parties, hunting trips and flying clubs. BTW, the Maharaja's method of drought relief was to build a 350-room palace in sandstone providing employment to peasants in the process. Now thats what I would call truly multipurpose.

Rajasthan has breathtaking beauty in its historical monuments. The sand dunes in Jaisalmer are a sight to see. A picture I took of my friends there.