My connection with Jaipur dates back to the year 1970, when I was merely 8 years old, travelling to the city with my parents to attend a social commitment. This was one of the earliest memories of travel, the only earlier being one to Amritsar, to attend the marriage of a cousin. This memory is very hazy, though Jaipur’s memory is comparatively clearer. Memories of visit to hawa mahal and amer fort and lazy stroll through colourful Johari Bazaar still fascinate me.
Next visit was more than good 15 years after the first visit. This was a month long visit to attend training programme and this entailed serious sightseeing , shopping and eating errands with friends. As my then employer was head quartered in Jaipur, between 1985 and 1994, there were umpteen visits and I must admit that I fell in deep love with the city. The comfortable pace of life, clean and green environs, colourful bazaars selling great collectible, varied eating options, forts, palaces and temples having fascinating past and of course, friendly people all made Jaipur a great proposition to an extent that I dreamt of making the city my permanent abode.
Fast forward to 2019. It’s been 25 years since I last lived in Jaipur. My visit to Jaipur since 1994 to date has been rare. Therefore, I was naturally excited when an official engagement landed me in Jaipur a couple of days ago. It was a short visit and entailed an official engagement too, still I didn’t forget to take a quick detour of the city. Iconic MI Road is still there, but it’s one way and yet traffic is extremely heavy. Old joints such as Niros, Jal Mahal, Lassiwala, Indian Coffee House still adorn MI Road, but there are newer , glitzier and swankier restaurants paling the old icons. Chhoti Chaupad, Badi Chaupad, Johari Bazar – all look haggard being dug up for underground metro that’s under construction. LMB and Rawat Mishthan Bhandar are still there, but I doubt whether the new generation will support these traditional places or whether these will fold up like other iconic places in Delhi and Mumbai. I am told another icon Raj Mandir no longer inspires awe that it used to in its glorious past.
Of course, the haunting tune of ” Kesariya Balma padharo maare des” still evokes the nostalgia of the past. The new Jaipur will have metro, malls and more cars and people, but will the Pink City maintain its traditional attraction is anyone’s guess! Having seen and experienced the best of Jaipur in the prime of my life, I wish the city, with which I seem to have a cosmic connection, all the best!