Exploring the Old City

Jodhpur’s old city is a labyrinth of narrow streets surrounding the great Mehrangarh Fort, which rises from a colossal rock at the center. Everywhere I look, vendors sell clothing, household goods, and an assortment of foods that I’ve never before seen or tried. Pedestrians, motorbikes, and auto-rickshaws constantly fight for control of the road. It’s an astounding and overwhelming place.

Several days ago, as I was passing through a relatively quiet neighborhood, a monkey rushed past me, pursued by a group of children. I watched dumbstruck as they scampered down the street, out of sight by the time I reached for my camera. I paused for a moment, thinking to myself, “Where am I? Did that really happen?” In this city, there’s something new at every turn. I have no idea what to expect.

Walking through the old city, or any other part of Jodhpur, I stand out unmistakably as a foreigner.  I can’t help it. I’m a white guy. My clothes are different. I try to photograph monkeys. These things separate me from the general Jodhpuri population.

Strangers approach me to ask who I am and where I come from. What am I doing in Jodhpur? How long will I be staying? They’re inevitably surprised to learn that I’ll be here for ten months. Foreigners don’t stay for ten months. They come for a day or two, visit the fort, and then continue to another part of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is more of a pit stop than a destination.

Children take the most interest in me, but their English isn’t good enough to ask a lot of questions. They gather around, shouting for me to take their photos. Sometimes they want money. I’m a spectacle to them, something out of the ordinary, briefly diverting their attention from the flow of daily life. They follow for a while, but when we’ve gone too far, they turn back, and I disappear like a wayward monkey into the maze of streets.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Exploring the Old City

  1. Gary Soltoff (no relation)

    Thank you for sharing. I am looking forward to reading about your further explorations. Be sure to pick up a Jodhpur Hillel tee shirt.

  2. And the cows and the dogs and the bakari (goats!) 😀 😀 😀 and buffalo (baas) – ahhhh so awesome! I love the little who kids who can say so much as “Hi! What is your name?” 🙂 Anyways, enjoy 🙂 I’m acting like a stalker right now. An envious one!

  3. Kathleen Smith Zorn

    When the children shout at you to take their photos, and “sometimes they want money,” is it a quid pro quo? Do they want money to have their photos taken? Are any of them photogenic? Do they need an agent? This could be a win-win. Just a thought. More photos of children and monkeys, please. And don’t tell me, “The kid wants to direct.”

  4. I’ve never been to India, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your posts. I like your writing style and sense of humor. Thank you!

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