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Frame of mind

“If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?”

It’s actually like a series of paintings, each capturing a different mood. All of them are extremely lifelike, even on closer inspection, they look like photographs ;-)

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There is this image that reflects a never-ending, lonely journey in a hostile desert environment, feeling lost, chasing mirages in the relentless sun and rippling sands.

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No hope. No nothing.

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“What the hell do you want from me?! I told you I’m on holiday.”

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“I told you I’m absolutely not going anywhere today.”

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“No, not anywhere means nowhere, not anywhere!”

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“Gonna bite ya.”

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“When you are not looking, I’m actually kind of like the king of the desert, but incessant complaining is a lot more entertaining and enjoyable.”

 

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If walls could talk

“You’ve just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?”

Haha, couldn’t have thought of a better prompt for the opportunity to post a few photos of Rajasthan’s majestic hill forts :-) Inasmuch as you can call them crumbling grand mansions. But why not?

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Of course, I would do up my mansion following Unesco World Heritage’s strict guidelines, open a museum, and rake in the money :-) But unfortunately, the relevant government bodies and / or royal families have beaten me to it.

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In Jaisalmer fort, I would strongly encourage the drying of laundry, especially colourful saris, off the balconies, for an enhanced photographic experience for visitors.

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I would clean up the area around the bastions and make it possible to walk around the perimeter of the fort on a nice, clean walkway for 360 degree views of the town and desert.

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Some anti-pigeon measures would be necessary, though strongly adhering to the Jain principles of not hurting any living being. You don’t want to upset the richest local community.

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Otherwise, of course, Jaisalmer fort is an endangered monument and still needs a lot of conservation work to stop it from just crumbling down the hill. I promise I would not embezzle the relevant funds.

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Now, as for Amber fort…

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I would deal with the elephant and jeep mafia, and make it easy for everyone to ascend the slope. If I’m still alive after this, I would make sure drinking water is sold inside the fort…. shouldn’t be a big deal.

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I would do some kind of treasure hunt or dress-up game for visitors. The fort is beautiful, but too deserted (it was abandoned 300 years ago, they ran out of water as well), too lifeless, too plain in a sense. It needs to be more alive somehow. I know many people would hate my ideas, but if it’s my “mansion”, I could do as I please, right? :-)

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By the way, I love the architecture here. There is a lot of Mughal (Persian) influence in the designs, but the ruling family was actually Hindu.

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The Hindus had the same segregation of males and females as the Muslims. Even the queens were nothing more than hi-so prisoners looking at the outside world through marble or sandstone lattice windows….

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…which are amazing artwork, my favourite feature of the Taj Mahal and all the other places as well. But it’s sad to think back to those days. I’m glad we’re living in different times, even in India.

(But just maybe, there is a market niche here, some rich western ladies would like to get locked up and pampered like queens for a day or two, while their husbands go on a camel safari? Should do some market research here.)

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(And I really need to add this photo of my favourite Indian so far. He was giggling and laughing and screaming with delight when he saw me.)

I’m yet to visit Jodhpur fort (I can see it outside my room), I might choose that one for my crumbling mansion. How long is the offer standing? :-)

This is my 100th post in this blog. Thank you so much to all my readers and friends who have supported and encouraged me along this journey.

Daily prompt

 

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Careful what you wish for

In the land of so many powerful gods and djinns, and yet, doesn’t look like a lot of prayers are coming true. Or, maybe, people are wiser and know better what to wish for?

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Details from Amber fort and City Palace (Jaipur)

Last time I went to a shrine where people make wishes, I didn’t make one. Why would I? The gods are looking on us indifferently. Or, they grant us anyway what they know we need, irrespective of what we ask for. Totally in vain trying to interfere with destiny.

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In Fatehpur Sikri, people make wishes by tying threads to the delicate marble lattice windows around the shrine of a sufi saint, who is said to have granted the king the birth of a male heir.

So many times I made promises and wishes, I got them back all twisted, like someone out there is laughing at me. Not malignantly, but playing around. I’m not really asking anymore.

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Ganesha everywhere on the walls of Jaisalmer

Not sure about what it is, gods or fate. Faith or fate.

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All I can say, if you want me to grant you a wish, come and ask for it, and then we’ll see if it’s simply meant to be. Like the cow in the header, banging on the door with its nose. How would I know what you want or need if you don’t tell me? And if even the gods mess it up, so many times, then why would you trust my power? Just careful what you wish for. Small things. And the big things, that’s not our playground. Even if I was a genie with magic powers.

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Paintings at Galtaji (monkey temple) in Jaipur

Daily post

 

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Dreams of honey and gold

I’m yet to write about four or five places, long backlog, and then comes the amazing honey-coloured Jaisalmer fort, seven hundred years old, but still very much alive, and just knocks me over. So here I am with 498 photos and just staring at the screen blankly. This is why I wanted to come to Rajasthan and this is why India is all worth it.  :-)

Iftar – breaking the fast at sunset on the rooftop of my guesthouse, with the fort in the distance. (I would not survive without food and water, I have no idea how they do in this heat.)

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Like a huge sandcastle made by playful giants frolicking in the sand, the fort is made up of 99 bastions in sandstone, some of them really wobbly, it’s actually an endangered monument. The hill forts of Rajasthan, a group of several monuments scattered in the state, got their World Heritage inscription just last year.

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Inside the fort, it’s a maze of streets and old palaces and temples and houses, and life goes on.

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Intricate details from the royal palace.

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Off on a camel safari tomorrow!

 

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An Odd Trio

Come on, what sort of an assignment is this? :-)

I’m allergic to cats, I had the worst asthma attack of my life when I was taking care of a dozen kitties and their two mothers. I haven’t seen a beach for two months. And I’m only dreaming about a bowl of soup, in my current state of stomach.

Sounds like the kind of silly little five-minute assignment I would give to my students for fluency practice. And now I’m failing at my own game. Epic. :-)

But I have found some photos of fabulous trios for y’all, like….

a family on the beach in Bali (sans towels)

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a family in Nepal

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monkeys peeking in the gaps in Jaipur, India

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happy guys on a Pelni boat from Ambon to Banda, Indonesia

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rickshaw drivers in Melaka, Malaysia

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young novices right after their ordination in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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our kittens Pötyi, Blacky and Tiggie

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some of my 4th grade students in Yangon, Myanmar, on national day

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I did mention soup, beach towels and cats, didn’t I? So am I getting a passing grade? :-)

 

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Tickled pink

In the pink city, far from being in the pink…. but I managed to stay strong enough to walk around and visit the sights…. though not really the bazaars and markets, I only saw those from the rickshaw. The heat is not so bad, the wind has picked up….

Windows have always been my favourites and I truly had a chance to knock myself out!

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It’s a fairytale, I’m still lost in some ancient desert epic, one thousand and one nights…. and constantly stunned trying to imagine that people not only survived in these places without fridges, aircon, running water (not to mention wifi), but in some areas, in some periods, even thrived, waged wars, traded, conquered, dreamed big. The omnipresent hilltop forts tell about raiding armies and battlefields, with sands and rocks and the all-consuming desert trying to eat up everything. The streets of the pink city tells about royal comforts, harems, riches, heavy brocades and gentle music, as well as brisk trade in the shophouses, sprawling markets, camel caravans coming and going, a swirl of languages, dresses and colours. And least that’s how I imagine it. That’s what it still looks like.

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Some royal grandeur in pink

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Actually the buildings were only painted pink 160 years ago, to welcome the Prince of Wales. And then it stuck. Now everyone in the old city is required by law to keep the faded orange colour.

All is well, and I really enjoy a lot of places, moments…. but I’m really tired and homesick. No pink glasses.

 

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