Old men walking…

Pagri!

Got a turban? Take it for a stroll. In Mehrangarh Quila, in Jodhpur.

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Perfect imperfect art

Traditions

Women paint the ground outside Mehrangarh Quila in Jodhpur.

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Rising right out of the rock face

Towering Mehrangarh

Mehrangarh, the picturesque fort of Jodhpur, towers above the city. It’s a museum and heritage site today, fascinating for its alcoves and exhibits of royal life, weaponry, artifacts and art.

The fort itself rises out of the old Blue City and is an imposing feature of the skyline whenever the crowded markets and teeming bazaars provide a view.

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Accoutrements of luxury

Motion blur = falling stars

During a visit to Jodhpur, friends and I had a wonderful meal in the luxurious Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, the home of the Jodhpur royals sprawled across 26 acres on a hill above the city and now a Taj hotel. We had not the finances to spend a night there, but the eats were good. (Many thanks to Katie and Simon for picking up this poor teacher’s share of the 11,000 rupee bill.)

The palace is sumptuously adorned as palaces are wont to be. The above photo comes from a dining patio lit by the stars and candles (and motion blur). Those below are from the lobby and public places around the hotel’s marble and stone interior. And yes, that was, at one point, a real tiger.

My only regret is not photographing the meal. Though the mood lighting wouldn’t have allowed it anyway.

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I’ll never be your beast of burden…

You still look like an ass to me.

Donkeys plod the crowded market lanes of old Jodhpur.

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City in blue

Jodhpur, the blue city

Welcome to Jodhpur, the Blue City of Rajasthan.

It’s really not that blue, to be honest. The old quarter, nearest the towering fort are bluish, but even then, not every building pays homage to the city’s moniker.

And the reason for the blue paint? Jodhpuris themselves are uncertain. Some claim it’s to keep away the mosquitoes. Others say it’s religious. Still others just say that’s tradition. Who knows?

See below for more perspective on Jodhpur’s blues.

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Details, details….

Fantastic texture and color from Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur, India’s “Blue City” in Rajasthan. The fort is spectacularly preserved as a museum and towers over the sprawling, grungy city. Inside are alcoves and hallways and galleries of marble and wood and ornament.

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One big trunk on the streets of Delhi

Pachyderm lane?

Meet a Delhi elephant. There are a few dozen of the beasts captive in Delhi, taken care of by their very loving mahouts (traditional, often tribal, elephant driver) as well as some wildlife NGOs. Their life isn’t great, but this is a facet of Indian culture that isn’t likely to wither under the animal-loving glare of the West.

Here, they are used for weddings, festivals and other ceremonies, though outside the city in parts of the country they are still beasts of burden. Sounds weird to say it, but these elephants are domesticated.

I’m sometimes a little leery of posting photos of the colorful juxtaposition of India’s traditions alongside her modern ambitions. What I don’t want is for this mediocre shot — from an abnormally uncrowded Aurobino Marg, a major Delhi traffic artery — to give the impression that India is simply a backward, funny land.

But this is also reality in a major Indian city, a glorious if also quirky reality. There aren’t many places in the world to find the urban elephant.

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And we’re back… tanned and tired but a certified divemaster

Descent

This week I’ve returned to the dusty, human crush of Delhi after more than three weeks on Havelock Islandtraining as a divemaster. I spent my time interning at a dive shop — the very one where I learned to dive a little more than a year ago.

That meant long hours — 12-hour days — of managing divers, helping lead dives, sorting/cleaning/lugging gear, skills tests, timed swimming trials, science and protocol exams and, thankfully, a fair bit (more than 40 logged in the three weeks) of diving. I’m now a certified Enriched Air diver and one posted envelope away from being a card-carrying, certified PADI divemaster.

The above photo, by the way, is my reflection in another diver’s bubble’s on a descent 100 feet or so to the bottom at Johnny’s Gorge, one of our celebrated dive sites.

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