i feel the joy virtually pulsing through my body as we walk down the jodhpur streets: finally, finally we are in the real india where real people live and breathe and go about their daily lives. the streets are packed, likely because tomorrow is the holi festival. already the vividness and vibrance is upon everyone, men and children bathed in pink and yellow, coloured trails on the floor and sandstone walls. shop owners lounge in store fronts flanked by metal wares, open white bags of spices, sweets in time-blurred plastic containers and colourful snacks suspended in long strips watching the world move by. the honking is a song that has no start and end, in small streets we cannot move, sucked into the traffic and pollution, the visible white smog that envelops us all. wheelbarrows and cows, motorcycles and pedestrians crowd the lanes and we are all suspended in time together.
luxury is enjoyable but such settings are also what the soul craves- a mouthful of reality, not knowing when to cross roads and grabbing each other, squealing and leaping across. people unexpectedly receptive to the camera, families waving from windows posing for a picture, children jostling each other to fit into the frame. boys boldly saying ‘hello’ and waving (seemingly proud of their english vocabulary), a young girl in a tuk-tuk looking at me and hesitantly raising her hand before shyly dropping it, giving me the sense that some feelings transcend the barriers of language, how a wave is so universal and a smile so welcoming. happiness so open and simple: a game of badminton glimpsed in the back alley, sharing a packet of sweets excitedly and later seeing grape flavoured candy wrappers strewn across the floor, gathering to watch brave souls make the dive into the unbelievable step well like it was a football game, good-natured strangers exclaiming ‘happy holi!’ and giving us purple smears across our cheeks to remember the festivity by. pastel façades not postcard perfect but lovely in a worn, warm sort of way, cracks creeping up walls and discoloured structures, rugged and natural, not artificially conserved. a beautiful water body behind all the buildings like a hidden gem, an unexpected break from the sandstone sights, sitting there a moment to take it in. what strikes me is how time slows down and how everyone is completely alright with the gradual moments- no rush here. the locals are spectators with the day off and they watch us play our game, scurrying around, perpetually pressed for time. people leave their doors and gather outside, revel in each others’ company in noise and in silence. nobody is using their cell phone and there is no hurry at all.