I was in the movies you made, don’t you remember? Pretty much a character myself, like the actors who danced on my soil, like those bangle adorned women whose songs echoed in my deserts, like the Rudali who wept through my sands. I was in your music when Aerosmith played the sarangi in ‘Taste of India’. I was in your food, each time you added a dash of spice. Yet, to the undiscerning, I was & I am, dead as a desert. No wonder you never realised I had a soul too. That somewhere, in the middle of the very same desert, buried under those sands, lay my spirit, my soul. I know, I know, you couldn’t see it. How could you? You were the tourist. You came all the way from the west and saw only snake charmers. But you never listened to the music that charmed its way through my alleys. You saw the palaces, the havelis and the repertoire of huge vessels in their kitchens but you never saw the oodles of affection that the mothers and grandmothers of the havelis poured in those vessels. Heck, you even ate the ‘ker-sangri’ and you never figured out the one ingredient that made those bitter ‘ker’ edible. My soul. You only saw what you wanted to see.
Yet, every now and then, a few crazy souls roam around in these sands, those who’ve probably lost themselves but end up discovering me. I know it in their eyes. I know it when they see me..
..in the vibrant hues of the turbans that adorn me…
Or in the smiles that run as wide as the pride in my glorious moustaches..
Or in the valiant chapters of history that my eyes behold..
In the music that wades through my streets and alleys..
Or even in the poverty that snakes its way into the hands of my children..
In the graceful walk of my women..
Or in the not-so-grand humdrum of my grand palaces..
In the countless tales of men & women crossing the border to meet their kin..
And of the camels that accompanied..
In the innocence of my kids..
And in the solitude that this innocence meets..
In the endeavour to find your own God in the middle of my desert..
..perhaps you may just find yourself here, as you explore my people and my land.
I was & I am the spirit of ‘Rajasthan’!
This is the second in my series – ‘Us & Them’ – capturing the people I’ve met along my travels
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