Friday, August 31, 2012

The Jodhpur Diary: Vignettes

August 24, Friday: Drama Queen

On the 22nd I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist. I have been having some problems...some minor and some sort of major....with my eyes. I decided to wait till I came to Jodhpur as I happen to know the 'eye' doctor in question.
We were advised to be there early or we'd be overtaken by an influx of patients and would have to wait for anything from three to four hours. We were parked, and at the gate of the hospital early along with a couple of early tricklers like ourselves.
I was happily walking ahead when 'M' called out to me. That's when I noticed her standing next to a shoe rack, a big one like they have outside mandirs (temples) What! we've got to take off our footwear outside by the gate? I couldn't believe it. If there's one thing I dislike almost to the point of hating it is mud, dirt, anything even the tiniest grain of sand, stuck to my feet. It is a major irritant. Typically of me I began to babble....and muttered my way to the entrance. How do they expect us to walk barefoot all over the place, I can't do it, I don't like it, this is so, so.....'M' was ahead of me and as she pushed open the door, she heaved a loud sigh of relief.
"Thank god they have carpeted the place!" she exclaimed, "It wasn't there the last time I was here."
I followed her in and did indeed calm down considerably. But did I mention the sky was overcast with dark, ominous clouds that threatened to pour down visciously on my pretty red chappals that were lying out in the open in a horrible metal shoe rack? No, I didn't tell you that before. Well, now I had something else to stress footwear getting drenched. I like that red pair; what will I wear if it gets wet? I'll have to walk back out the gate and into slush all the way to the car. Yuck!! I responded mechanically to the receptionist's instructions, paid whatever she asked, not actually registering anything. 
I hardly paid any attention to anything else until I was told: " Sit down. Put your chin here, and press your forehead against this metal band, Aunty."
"Aunty...???!!!!" All of a sudden I became very aware of the people around me, of the wobbly, round, steel stool on which I was trying hard not to wobble and of the fact that I had become the technician's aunt! I mean I know the way society functions in our parts, I'm 'auntyji' to cab drivers, my domestic help, the younger women who reside as my neighbours and anyone who thinks I'm worthy of their 'respect'...but not in places like hospitals, malls, restaurants etc, etc. Ridiculous....if my emotions and thoughts could be viewed as a film, I'd take the Oscar for Drama Queen! I was totally into all the hullabaloo I was making about nothing really. Come to think of it, I was beginning to enjoy the cultural differences I was encountering along the way. It's amazing how even city to city in India can give you a culture shock if you're not accustomed to the culture of the region. I had been away too long in a different environment and it took me a while to see the other point of view. 
I was on a roller coaster ride that day....and I had leeway for full-on drama. However, by the time I heard the final diagnosis I had spent myself and was tired. The doctor informed me I was headed towards Glaucoma and there would be a medical it operation if you will. 
That did it. I had had enough drama for one day....

I took out my camera and we headed into the main city to just drive around, shoot and enjoy the ride in a light drizzle that started after I had retrieved my precious red chappals and was safely in the car....It didn't matter that there was a 'bandh' in the city that day. To my mind it was a minor event after my experiences!!
The Mall: Mac Donald's
I was happy to hear the city boasted of a Mac dee's (colloquial term for Mac Donald's) and we headed there. It's tourist season and there were a lot of foreign tourists coming in to have a bite. The place faces the walk way into the mall, and has a glass front. So people on either side could look in or out as the case may be.
No sooner had some 'goras' (Whites) settled in at the tables against the glass front, a horde of young boys collected outside and pressed their faces, noses and all, against the glass and began staring at the food much to the distress of two women. A man sitting all by himself was not the least bit bothered by this and I thought he must have been warned or was made of stronger stuff. But the two pretty young things were horrified. They found it hard to even lift a burger off the plate...biting into one under those staring eyes seemed almost impossible. We ourselves found it quite offending, but what can one do? The guards chased them away but they would sneak in again...short of tying them up there was nothing that could stop them. One more very new and different experience for me!!  
I decided to help the women out and told them to take our table which was further inside and would distance them from the unwanted audience. They were so grateful, because no other table was vacant. We laughed as we made the change and they were able to laugh it off too.
It happens, perhaps not only in India...I'm sure of that!

31st August, Friday: Nincompoop photographer

It rained with a vengeance today. I tried to capture the sheets of water pouring down onto an already drowning garden.....but realized you can only do that much and no more with a tiny camera and total ignorance of photography!! So the snaps came out with the rain resembling scratches on the surface, and I stuffed them into a folder thoroughly disgusted with my lack of expertise!

A drive and two hot paneer pakoras later, I was feeling on top of the world and a few wasted pics didn't make a dent on my restored good humour. There'll be other rainy days and hopefully a better camera and a more knowledgeable me.....till then I'm content.



  1. Wonderful writing Joy. I'm glad your shoes didn't get wet!

    1. Maxie, Yeah, I love that red pair!! Thank you.

  2. Sounds like you have had some adventures. Hoping that your weekend gets better from here. :)

    1. Karen, I'm having a great time, thank you!

  3. You make the little everyday matters sound so amusing--always a joy reading you here! You are right about how different it feels across the different states of India. Thanks to my Dad's transferrable job, I enjoyed different flavors of India growing up. Never been to Rajasthan though :)

    1. Thank you SB! Sad you didn't visit Rajasthan...honestly it is a very interesting place with all its orthodoxy, superstition and conventional life style, all of which exist even today. From the desert of Barmer and Jaisalmer to the green hills and lakes of Udaipur, Rajasthan is nothing short of a kaleidoscope.