In times like these when a pesky virus wreaks havoc all over the globe, it’s tough for us mere mortals to not sulk.
The negative vibes are more difficult to handle if you are a denizen of a city that thrives on tourism, and has suddenly been shorn off life. Jaipur, the Pink City of India, is a melting pot of foreign tourists.
Obviously, it was a sore sight for me when everyone made a beeline for the flights back home as the Corona pandemic struck.
In this part of the city known as C-Scheme, trees and shrubs don the landscape. It is an idyllic setting. On a slightly overcast day, a peacock had already puffed its iridescent plumage
But history books tell us that whenever a transformation is in the offing, the first draft appears vague. It’s initially difficult to fathom, but as it progresses the plot starts to make sense.
Centuries ago when the Maharajas of Jaipur were laying the city’s foundations, they seemingly sprinkled hospitality on each cornerstone. Foresight, it’s said, comes naturally to the pedigreed.
The Jaipur royals regularly hosted the aesthetic Mughals and foreign emissaries. It’s probably during those banquets that they foresaw travellers falling for Jaipur’s charming palaces and castles.
Fast forward to the 21st century and a tête-à-tête with the French, Italians, British, Americans, and Australians is as common as froth on a sizzling cappuccino. Amazingly, now you don’t have to wait for the tourism season to bump into them.
Many have shifted base here, visiting their homeland once or twice a year. “It’s the hospitality”, they say that makes them lay anchor in the city.
They throng the annual Jaipur Literature Festival and occupy most of the seats in the surrounding cafés. Their cameras incessantly capture the different hues and shades of the fabled Hava Mahal, Amber Fort, Jal Mahal, and the glittering armoury at the City Palace.
The more adventurous ones track spotted felines in the city’s Leopard sanctuary.
This foreign influx keeps the hotels and resorts in good shape. It prods local tour operators to be on their toes all the time. Ever increasing footfalls to the palaces and castles means that they are well-maintained and regularly renovated.
Every now and then, a glitzy cafe springs up in the city extending open invitations to discerning tourists. Gladly, some foreigners have also embarked on entrepreneurial activities where local talent is hired.
So, you can imagine how I felt when the exodus began? Amid self-isolation blues, as I tried to find solace in a cup of coffee and Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kalimanjaro”, something drew my attention.
World appears like a canvas
I rushed to the balcony in the hope to catch a glimpse. If you are living on the fourth storey, the world underneath appears a canvas anyway.
And in this part of the city known as C-Scheme, trees and shrubs don the landscape. It is an idyllic setting. On a slightly overcast day, a peacock had already puffed its iridescent plumage.
The very next moment, a flock of pigeons glided through the horizon and settled on the ground to feed on wheat grains.
While they fed, a pair of doves joined them. And for the first time in ages, a black tailed drongo appeared from nowhere. It sailed above the undisturbed feeders and perched on a Mahogany.
A new script
As the first drops of rain fell, chirping squirrels headed for the tree trunks. And then I realised that nature was done with the first draft of the new script, and had moved on to the second one.
Chaos precludes order. It’s in these middle stages that nature recreates the stage for the ensuing harmony.
Recently leading global dailies reported that the Ozone is healing. With planes temporarily grounded, cars back in parking lots, and factory chimneys at rest, the atmosphere is getting back to normal.
Oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams are also having their share of luck.
Hemingway said that the first draft of anything is disorderly. Being a recluse, this must have dawned upon him in isolation. As it did on me!
Salman Danish Khan is a freelance journalist and writer based in Jaipur, India