The search for identity wasn’t only Buddha’s pursuit.
Each person’s own sexual and gender identity is core to this search. Am I a man or a woman? Who and what decides it? Whom am I truly and deeply attracted to? Should I conform to a norm that a majority or a community prescribes? What is making me want to fit in? There are so many questions carpet bombing my mind.
Pride month is celebrated all over the world. There are arguments or views on why the world suddenly awakens just one month in a year. It hasn’t been easy to convince organisational leadership to invite them to learn more and promote understanding for all.
In the organisation I work for, it has been an amazing journey over the past two years. To go from thinking “deviants” may be one or two to taking baby steps with five people identifying last year as a part of the spectrum to this year with over forty-eight people identifying themselves.
Gathering vocabulary that provides clarity on sexuality, being able to distinguish gender identity, body types, sexual orientation, and much more has been a powerful journey for me.
Human beings are more than the binary understanding we have been conditioned to.
To begin with sex is assigned at birth. That’s not just the factor that defines our sexuality. Our sexuality has more dimensions than the sex assigned at birth. Gender and sex are not the same thing.Fit is based on the genitals but may not be based on what the child may grow up and identify as. Gender is largely how you feel about yourself. It is what you believe about yourself and identify with. Gender is a social construct.
Let’s take another step forward. What’s your sexual orientation? Somewhere along the way, we begin to find ourselves attracted to or attracting potential suitors to procreate. Humans (and dolphins) are the only beings capable of engaging sexually in both recreational and romantic contexts.Here comes our attraction, which may be inconsistent or consistent with our identity by assigned sex or programmed or resonating gender. When did you first realise you were “straight” or “heterosexual”?If the answer is “I just knew”, then that is the case for others as well. Very naturally.
Lastly, there are expressions: how we choose to express our identity and the way we show up and interact with the world around us. The clothes we choose, the makeup we wear, and the roles we play in our intimate interactions.
The world of ourselves offers a window to find out more for those who are curious, open-minded, and non-judgmental about what is around us. The rules of that world include “don’t yuck my yum” and being “accepting” of other people by telling them “Come as you are.”
For many years now, I have found my birthday week a very difficult time to process. I am anxious, cranky, oversensitive, and want to hide and disappear. People who are close to me know I don’t want to be wished on this day. I have almost always wished I was never born. In a world where there are rules and there is a need to tame the wilderness inside of us, I find myself a misfit. The fearless state of being vulnerable, expressing, and experiencing is often determined by how others outside of you will feel.
Last week, at a gathering, someone offered to go trippy on mushrooms. I was advised to receive the mushrooms in a spiritual, natural, and ceremonial way. With my birthday around the corner, this seemed like the perfect gift to mark the completion of my 42nd year and welcome the gift of life for another.
On Ceremonial D-Day
A dear friend facilitated the much anticipated ceremony. After a gentle spiritual cleansing, we consumed the magic potion of carefully weighed shrooms and reflected through a meditation exercise. A soft melody began to play. My stomach was churning a bit.
Tripping the trip
As the day was ending, twilight was alive, and soon the colours around me became enchantingly enhanced. The stars in the sky, moonlight through the clouds, layers of red in the bonfire, flying sparks of fire and the vibrance of people around me were all intensified. It was better than an 8K HDR surround experience.
Another level of the journey began after putting on a blindfold. I transcended into an extraordinary world of rule-less formations and colours I had never seen before. With the sense of space, time, dimension, and direction lost, it was a free flow. I wanted to further explore that alternative virtual space. The closest comparison I can think of is an extrapolated version of the dancing screen on an iPod when playing music.
My Kind of Celebration
Laughter came easily, even with a difficult stomach. The palms of my hands and my feet had separate identities. I felt disintegrated into the ground with no sense of the rest of my body. “Now I get it” and “Now I know” ran through my mind a few times. It reinforced my belief that godliness is inside of us.
I recall reaching out to my grandmother.I saw her younger self in a very abstract form, her struggles with birthing and raising my father. There was a moment where I was questioning the human idea of wanting to capture Mars, and if the life of music and art are formations.
The visuals I saw with the blinds on and off were very different and both worth it in their own right.
My sense of gratitude for allowing myself to experience this, under the gentle facilitation of my friend, was soul-fulfilling.
It was great to wake up with no hangover or side effects and to be able to remember most of what I experienced. I celebrated my birthday with a grand party in my head. A party that was just mine, thrown by me for me.
The humble mushroom helped me celebrate the day of my existence to its fullest worth without shame or guilt for who I am.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme for 2022 is “Together for Mental Health.” It prompted me to revisit my path and publish this blog, which I had written some time ago but had since updated with some new learning.
In 2000, the number of death by suicide was 1,08,000. In 2020, this number increased to 1,53,000. NCRB data for 2020 says India has about 45.7 million people suffering from depression.
As I recount my journey, I want to highlight that I am not a “Baba” or a “know-it-all.” But I’ve been there and done that, and it is humbling if my path and experiences might benefit someone else.
Over the past few years, friends, family, and acquaintances have reached out to me asking how I survived depression and made my way back “successfully” from the low. Our discussions hovered around some common thoughts that cross our minds in times of crisis. Our judgment of ourselves is paramount. We hold on to the misery without giving ourselves a chance to get out of it.
Along with losing my head, I had lost all faith in my abilities. I failed to believe I was good at anything. Neither as a son, a husband, an employee, an entrepreneur nor as a dreamer. I was not good enough to make anything work successfully. These thoughts had been weighing on me for a fairly long time (let’s say 6 years or so) and the triggers only got stronger after a toxic conversation in my family. That invalidated me for being who I was.
Over the next 6 months, I wrestled with myself until the day I choked on it. I couldn’t rise from where I sat; broke down for no apparent reason; was breathless; felt I was sinking.
The pain was unbearable when I was at my lowest point. Panic attacks, breathlessness, weight in the chest, regular headaches, inconsolable sobbing, lack of food, inability to sleep, focus, or remember, acute blazing wrath, insecurity of desertion, and dread of loss were all common occurrences in my life.
I was then nudged by my wife to pursue the long-pending item on my list – to seek help.
From then to now, it has been about four years. The ride has not been an easy one. Nevertheless, seeking help and staying on the path was the best thing I ever did for myself and for the gift of life I have.
The good news is that if you get out of your comfort zone and want a way out of the discomfort you are in, then seek help. You and your soul WILL make it out alive.
My Two Cents on Seeking Help
There is so much taboo around addressing mental health that I wanted to share a transparent point of view and set realistic expectations.
Seeing the therapist is the first step. Find one who has learned psychology (the art) or psychiatry (medical science) from an institution of repute and is recognized and licensed by the RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India). NIMHANS, AIIMS, and PGI are some of the institutions of repute.
Spiritualism is not an alternative for those who need therapy. Vipassana, Baba business, Yoga, and visiting coaches or religious institutions will not fix the problem. A dispassionate approach to making you strong enough to solve your issues is the need of the hour.
Choosing a Therapist
Please take help while picking a therapist. References do matter. Your therapist should be capable of handling your situation. It is non-negotiable that they are RCI registered and licensed. Ask for their accreditation license.
Therapists are not one-size-fits-all.
Once you kick-start the process, do not go “therapist” shopping. It will damage you. You will have to re-live your low moments every time you meet a new therapist.
Pick one and stick with that person for good. A therapist is someone you want to be as sure of as your partner. They have to deal with your mess in the head and fix you up. Trust them to do their job.
You are NOT going to a therapist to get advice. If you are, then you are wasting your time and money.
It is critical to understand that you are the solution to your problems.Therapists know how to get you to solve problems, so long as you are committed to solving them.
If anyone is advising you with solutions, trust me, they have no idea or patience to do what their job expects them to do. Avoid therapists who act as advisors.
Likewise, if your therapist starts you on medication without really making you push your mental limits of confronting your uncomfortable truths, run from them too. Find another therapist.
Medication is NOT the first step. My intent is not to create resistance to a medication when you need it, but rather to emphasize that refrain from taking an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drug to feel better.
Your therapist has a life. Therapists are not grocers or traders, please do not ask for discounts. That is their bread, let alone the butter.
The average session will cost you about Rs. 2500 an hour in the metro/cosmopolitan cities. With an average of 1 session a week, you will be spending about Rs. 10,000 a month.
If you take stock of the money you spend every month on other incidentals, the therapist fee will still be less than that.
Go to a psychologist first, and you will be recommended appropriately to a psychiatrist if necessary. They are two different roles in the area of mental health. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe medication as they are qualified medical doctors.
It takes about 4-6 sessions before you are likely to build rapport with the therapist. You are likely to have some difficulty confronting your innermost trauma-causing moments. Be patient. Bear through the pain; it will pass in its time. When you are ready, let it go.
Some people find themselves feeling good after 3–4 sessions and decide to stop going to see the therapist. Do not stop until the therapist tells you that you can stop. Behavioural changes take time. Let the therapist decide for you.
You will have healed greatly throughout and after the therapy, but it does not imply you will not experience lows. When triggered, you’re likely to have a meltdown, but you’ll be able to handle them far better now.
Do not come home and tell your loved ones and friends what you shared with the therapist.As much as they love you, they are not equipped or trained to handle the issues you are going through. Your sharing with them could trigger them. Let this be the dark matter that only your therapist can handle.
Things to Keep in Mind
It took me 12 months before I decided to take charge of my life and do the right thing. The first step takes time. It is less for some and longer for others. Trust the process. You will come out healed with some bruises and holes. But you will live to tell the story and help another person.
If you think someone needs help, let that person come to terms with that fact. Otherwise, it can backfire. You can take the horse to the water, but you can not make it drink. Therefore, do not force it.
At times the triggers are the closest blood relatives in the inner circle. The trigger could be your parents, siblings, spouse, or children. It might require cutting the source of the trigger to be able to heal completely.
Lastly, going to a psychologist is like going to any other doctor. You are not mad or schizophrenic because you are not able to handle your emotions. Professional support makes it easier to get through those. It is simply the right thing to do.
Mental health claim lives
We can see a decline in the suicide figures if we treat mental health without being ashamed of it and don’t condemn those who are going through a difficult time.
Let us make a commitment to stand together for mental health.
On my travels, Agartala, Tripura’s capital, was the most unexpected place I visited. It feels like eons ago when we all didn’t have masks as our constant companions. I was on assignment to assist with a story-telling workshop at NSD (National School of Drama). Agartala is a city bustling with activity. It is located on the banks of the Haora River, near the Bangladesh border. Since I happened to be there in February, the weather was cool and pleasant.
After a busy week of workshops, Exploring the city and its outskirts was possible with limited time at hand. The hustle-bustle of the metro city hasn’t choked this place yet. Therefore, it was easy to cover most parts by walk or a short ride.
Like any other new place, I visited the marketplace and found myself checking out clothes. Amidst many shops was this quaint, neat, cute, small store with a colorful traditional artisanal creation calledFitBird – A resource of Art & Humanities. The staff in the shop couldn’t converse in Hindi or English, and since I was window shopping, I popped in and popped out in a jiffy.
As I waited for others to finish shopping, a very smartly dressed woman in traditional wear passed me. Our eyes met, and we exchanged smiles. And I noticed her going into a particular shop… the neat, cute one, and I noticed her talking to staff in an owner-like demeanor.
I went back in; she was indeed the store owner, and now I started exploring the shop to understand what each item was, and I fell in love with a particular piece. A traditional red wraparound called “Rignai” is worn by the women of Tripura. Such a bright outlook on the prosperity of the region and women.
I was so smitten by that piece of fabric and the owner that I pestered her to give me that piece as a barter gift without taking any money. I was experimenting with finding kindness, and besides that, I was low on cash too! Just to tip the balance in my favor, I threw in a date with the owner to a place of her choice in Tripura for an exchange of my travel stories and to get to know each other more. She was kind to accept, and her name was Lovely.
The date of the conversations just opened up so much more about her. She had foundational experience at Hindustan Lever and was involved in promoting women’s entrepreneurship journey for the women in Tripura. And furthermore, all the pieces she sold were handwoven or handmade precious pieces by the tribal women. The business was, therefore, an outlet for cooperative and collaborative efforts, enabling the tribal economy. She was an ecologically and economically conscious human being, making an impact in the most unlikely of places in India.
Fitbird is a venture that should be on everyone’s must-visit list while in Tripura. It is located in a crowded marketplace. You could miss it, but it is a treasure trove of priceless work, worth a little search and treasure hunting. Check them out on www.fitbird.in and follow them on their social media handles – Facebook
It was a short work week, so I decided to take some time off work and travel. Explore some of the unexplored places in the Himalayas.
My places of interest were Keylong and eventually Jispa. These two places are 20 km apart. Jispa is probably the last habitat till one reaches the Ladakh region.
I took a local bus to Keylong. By the time I reached there, it was already mid-morning. The bus to Jispa was only available in the evening.
Hiking me way to Jispa
With a lot of time at hand, I decided to walk 20 km. After walking almost 5 km uphill, I decided to try my hand at hitchhiking. There were many, many rejections of the hitchhike requests. I had almost lost hope of getting one when a local stopped his pickup truck to give me a ride.
He proactively set the expectations that he wouldn’t be able to drop me at my destination but only a little distance ahead. He was building a shack at that spot. For me, it meant short rest and covering a bit of a distance, followed by a brief conversation with kindness. He offered me water from his shack. I thanked him and continued to walk. I had yet another 12 km to cover on foot.
I continued to face more rejection from riders and drivers alike in the second leg as well. I began to think about what it was about me that made people not stop. Is it me or is it their perspective of me? Just before my mind began to spiral into thoughts that could wear me out, kindness arrived again. A biker headed towards my destination stopped and gave me a ride to my destination.
This walk and the hitchhiking were not because I couldn’t afford a taxi. It was just me pushing limits on surviving a mission that could break my spirit, break my ego of being privileged, and much more about reaffirming the abundance and existence of humanity and kindness.
Unexpected kindness and affection
The experience of receiving didn’t stop at this. The place I stayed was the ancestral home (renovated now) of a local chieftain with a historical past and the connected royal family of the Ladakh region. I happened to be their first guest of the season. The owner of the property was a retired diplomat. An intelligent, pleasant man with distinguished achievements and a great capability for wonderful conversations. We spent time together over dinner and the following morning at breakfast. As I packed up to leave, I went up to the counter to pay my bills. The property didn’t have a card machine, I wasn’t carrying cash, and the internet payment via payment apps just wouldn’t work.
Damn! It was embarrassing. The gentleman then came to me and said, “You are my first guest this season.” It was wonderful to host you. I am making this stay complimentary. Please don’t pay anything. Just come back another time. “
I swelled up, and this reaffirmed my belief that humanity and kindness exist in the most unlikely places.
What are your acts of kindness?
What are you willing to give wholly, even though it might pinch you?
What are you willing to receive without the need to repay but probably pay forward?
What are the limits you are willing to push to keep your ego in check?
Eda, how do we know what app to look for on the phone? asked my 78-year-old father after observing me doing something on my smartphone. While growing up, I saw him pride himself on being hands-on with technology.
Times gone by
In the 70s and 80s, a person with tech acumen was able to operate, repair, and improve the experience of electrical equipment like TVs, amplifiers, ovens, lights, and pipes in the house. We prided him on being able to comprehend, apply his intelligence, and make things functional. He was electric and electronic savvy, so to speak.
Ever since he saw the first computer being installed in the company he worked for, something the size of a monstrous generator, he flipped. He was scared and cautious about interacting with a personal computer. The language and terms were tough to comprehend for him those were big reasons for his unwillingness to learn. He was operating from a space of fear and insecurity and hence couldn’t take this learning journey at the pace that was needed at that time.
With the entry of smartphones into our lives, this learning gap has widened further. There are two generations handling this very differently. One whose lives almost depend on it and another who can’t seem to understand how anyone can do almost everything on the phone.
I spent the entire last month with my parents, and it was a very insightful time for me. I observed them keenly, their rituals, thoughts, outlook, insecurities, survival techniques, and much more.
It made me think about the kinds of challenges that lie ahead for our generation and beyond as we transition through our age timeline.
What is it like now for an average person to interact and transact on the Metaverse, Blockchain, or other newer concepts? What more evolved technologies and innovations will enter our sphere, making life simpler for some and more complex for others?
Soon, silver will shine in our generation. Time is moving faster than we can comprehend. Remaining relevant and productive will become more challenging by the day.
I wonder if there is something we can build as communities. Focus on enabling the middle-aged generation as they interface with the technology and lifestyles of the future.
What can be done proactively for the multi-generational workforce so that they are purposeful and fitting in times to come? How can we leverage the collective power of the present to prepare for the future and stay productive and grow together?
It’s about time we started building muscles and preparing as a society. This opportunity definitely has a silver lining. There is immense scope to learn and grow together.
I recently attended a workshop called “Jokering Justice” by Sambhaavnaa, something which was on my to-do list for a while. This experience turned out to be a deep reflection of self and what it’s to be like in the shoes of the oppressed. Penning a few lines on my journey with the Theatre Of The Oppressed.
Tiny fluttering desire Fleeting thought to aspire
Searching for something An unknown in the world of known
Looking at the wide blue sky Deep longing to be free and fly
With enough on body and belly Soul still trying to find meaning
What about those who despair Live with out gratitude, unaware
Finally, I found the way to ride Make a journey to the other side
An experience insurmountable Thoughts, actions, words all on table
Learned the every path is not linear Grateful for all that made me sear
Chinonye J. Chidolue is a Nigerian actress. She is an experienced Creative with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Sharing these lines written by her on the occasion of International Women’s Day
A little over two years ago, thirteen men met to walk the banks of the Narmada as part of a leadership walk. Eight days of spiritual and humbling walk to find out their purpose. No wallet, no mobile phones, just being with ourselves and the brotherhood to figure ourselves out.
The bond of divesity
While all of these fellows were exceptional people, these two were the ones my heart connected with the most. One was a 31-year old entrepreneur with an unheard-of kind of name, of Persian descent, divorcee, and the other was a 25-year old Tamil Catholic, unmarried adulting man, naive, confused but supremely kind soul. They opened their heart to me, a 40-year old Malayalee, an atheist, a separated human on my own journey.
We walked, talked, cried, climbed, hurt, laughed, shared, stripped, ate, and slept together those eight days. This journey forged a brotherhood tighter than we ever imagined was possible. Read more about the walk here
We parted after the walk. I continued my learning journey until the day the pandemic kicked in. As a solo traveler, I was always on the go and had no place to nest. I was not comfortable going back to my hometown and finding shelter given my state of mind then. The 31-year old opened up his home for me. I could live with him as long as I wanted and grew wings to be on my own again. The 25-year old would do frequent sanity checks on me as we all were in the same town.
Something positive during Pandemic
The bond we had forged grew stronger. Our time together was in the space of naked truth and unburdening, with unfiltered conversations and unconditional love and support for each other.
When the first wave subsided, the three of us decided to backpack and revisit a few stretches from our walk. Our picks were Gokarna and Murudeshwar, after a brief stop at Goa. Initially, a few other friends were traveling with us. The space the three of us had made a few people jealous. There were fights about the closeness we shared and how it impacted our intimacy with others. But, we three reveled in the company we shared.
A piece of me
On that trip, we spent Christmas on the beach. As a token of love and appreciation for the wonderful brothers they had been to me, I gifted them my most prized possessions: My Two Watches. At one time, I took pride in wearing them. Now I wanted these two gentlemen to keep them. For me, it meant that they had a piece of me with them.
The present day saga
Time passed. The youngest, 25 years old, decided to get married. We were all looking forward to this reunion and celebrating in full glory. Just then, I contracted the virus. I sat sulking in isolation, hating that I had to miss this occasion. Something I had been looking forward to with much anticipation.
I tried to keep myself busy on the day to not feel anything. There was an eerie silence on the Whatsapp group too. Then I got a message from them. Something which overwhelmed me made me gooey and felt loved and included beyond words.
It was a beautiful photo of their wrists adorned with the two watches I had gifted them.
The brotherhood found a way to make my presence felt even when I was miles away. A part of me was there with them at the wedding. What a way to toast – Inclusion, Diversity, and Friendship!
Hard hitting questions
This feeling will stay with me all through my life. It made me think about how we go the extra mile for those we love and care about in our personal life.
What about diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Why do we find it so challenging? These questions so categorically came up.
Do we consider a colleague in the minority, who nevertheless contributes to the company aim, when they aren’t there in the room and we’re planning an outing, an offsite, task distribution, or any other choice that affects their work lives?
Are we addressing the elephant in the room?
Are we aware of any potential prejudices we may possess?
Are we treating the person with respect, regardless of their identity, which we may or may not share?
How can we, as HR professionals and business leaders, make intentional space for diversity, attract talent, and ensure that our company’s goals are met?
What can we do for inclusion and diversity – for persons of all faiths, races, dietary preferences, sexual orientations, disabilities, gender identities, and generations in the same space?
Be Human and Humble
Times are rapidly changing. The race against time and money will soon be won by a few. Leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves with what is left of humanity. Being human and humble is a choice we all should consider making. That’s what will keep our body, mind, and spirit alive. That’s the part that makes us feel like we have a sense of belonging, involvement, and citizenship. And we are cherished, trusted, and respected.
Stay and accommodation in Rajasthan is generally on the higher side, especially in season. The season in Rajasthan is from October to February. There are several hostels in Jodhpur, most of which are located close to the Ghantaghar (Clock Tower) Area. These are all the good names, like Zostel, Hostelavie, etc. Some very up-market hotel names like 360° Panorma at Pal Haveli are also there. Upmarket hotel accommodation is available inside the Mehrangarh Fort.
I stayed at a budget hotel very close to the Jodhpur railway station called Hotel Shiva. There were families as well as groups staying in the hotel. Room charges were Rs. 800 per night. No hot water was available, and the quality of the beds and facilities was just about average. We would have paid the same amount had we stayed at the hostel. I strongly recommend staying at a hostel. They are close to the tourist places and most of them offer a great view as well.
What to See
The top most touristy places to see are Umed Bhavan, Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Mandor Fort, Ghantaghar, and Osiyan Temple (about 60 km away from Jodhpur).
For Slow and Budget Travellers
My focus was primarily on the areas around Mehrangarh Fort. It took me a good 4 hours to explore this fort and its nooks and corners. The fort houses a museum of exhibits from the historical era as well. I walked down from the Mehrangarh fort to the Ghantaghar area. This walking trail is one of the best kept secrets in Jodhpur.
The next day, I walked from Ghantaghar to Nav Chokia. The way leads to the back entrance of the fort, which houses two beautiful and not-to-be-missed water bodies. Nav Chokia is the place to be if you want to experience the Blue Cityfor what it is. It is ancient. Some of the structures are a few hundred years old and seem to have stood the test of time. It is a must-do if you are a traveller by foot, bike, or any other budget format.
Local villagers recommended that I take the walking path to visit Jaswant Thada. This was another worthwhile trail. Jaswant Thada is a nice marble structure near a water body. From this place, you can get a mesmerising view of Jodhpur City and also of the fort.
The entrance fee at the fort was about Rs. 300 (entry and audio guide).
The entrance fee at Jaswant Thada was Rs. 30.
Since I didn’t visit the Umed Palace, I don’t know the entry fee, but I managed to see photographs of the clock collections and the car collections at the palace. As I understand it, the royal family stays at the palace, so a very small part of it was converted into a museum of sorts.
Mandor Fort is about 9 kms from the city. This can be accessed by train and then an autorikshaw or by taking a rickshaw.
I took the train to Jodhpur from Jaisalmer. The sleeper class ticket fare was about Rs.575. On a budget trip and in the right weather, the AC train can be totally given a miss. People on the train were kind and accommodating. There were no incidents of thieving either.
Taxis, auto-rickshaws, and other local transport are easily available.
I moved around using the hitch hike, shared auto model, and foot.A lot of this can be covered on foot. You don’t have to pay more than Rs. 10 or Rs. 20 when you use a shared auto.
The Uber service is poor. Taking a regular autorickshaw or TukTuk would be better. Negotiate shamelessly. No one feels bad.
A Special Musical Performance
After enjoying Mehrangarh fort on foot for over 4 hours, the mood of the day was to devour some laal mans and garlic naan. The winding stone-paved road and my search for Rajasthan’s more revered dish led me to a corner building which hoarded a sign saying “Live Classical Music Performance.” There were some foreigners trying to make their way into the building.
I paused my search for laal mas and stepped into this little performance space. The tourists were beginning to lose patience waiting for the performers, and they were as brattish as 5-year-olds, trying their hand at the tabla, and, of course, endless side-eyed selfies with a pout. After a brief wait, two young men stepped in with instruments. They laid out the Santoor and the Saarangi. The men explained the instruments.
The Santoor is an instrument with 100 strings and lets out sounds that are meditative, pleasant, and set the mood of happiness for the listeners. With Arbaaz on the santoor, he managed to take us through an elating and enthralling experience. Soon, his multi-talented brother, who accompanied Arbaaz on the Tabla, unpacked a vintage Saarangi. The sarangi is a desert violin, which has 36 strings and is connected to four main strings bunched with horse hair. It lets out music, which is very much akin to intense vocal expressions.
I asked if he could play something in Raag Yaman (Kalyani in Classical), and he generously played an outstanding composition to mark the end of the evening. I set out to find my gastronomic muse, the legendary Laal Mans of Rajasthani Cuisine, after making my Rs. 300 contribution and thanking them.
Eatsin the Blue City
For breakfast, we ate a place called Janata, which is brand with over 400 shops. Kachori chaat was very nice. Price Rs.35
On the road towards Ghantaghar (Clock Tower) There is a Shahi Kachori, a corner shop just before the clock tower. Price is Rs.20 from what I remember for both Pyaz (Onion) Kachori and Samosa. While the place is usually over crowded, I felt the items were salty. The stock is always fresh though.
Bombay Tea shop on the same road has some amazing bun maska. Price Rs.15. They serve chai, but I didn’t enjoy what they served. Price of Chai is 10 for what they call as single chai and it is quite a size.
Past the Clock tower, as you enter the road towards Pal Haveli, there are crowded tea shops who serve Kulad Chai at Rs.30. I found the coffee to be better Justified. Price Rs.15
Just opposite to these tea shops there is a much talked about Omelette shop. You wont miss it. They open after 11.00 am and stay open until night. They have an excellent menu of omlettes. I tried the “Cheese Masala Omlette”. very good and filling indeed. It cost me Rs.60. It is well reviewed in tripadvisor and tripto, but it also seemed like a local favourite. It is usually crowded, you are unlikely to miss it.
Managed to find a place called “Curry’s”. This is the roof top cafe above Zostel, Jodhpur. The order was served without much too much wait. I judge the dish 2.5 on 5.0. It missed the dominance of garlic, which needed to cut through the red chilly powder and the fat in the dish. Nevertheless, the succulence of the meat (chevon) and their Rajasthani hospitality was worthy of mention. The bill was about Rs.400. With slight disappointment I set out to explore some dessert. Mishrilal’s Doodh Bhandar is a vintage milk and sweet shop near the Clock Tower and is known for a few dishes. The Makahni Lassi and Doodh Jilebi. I pursued the Makhani Lassi which is glass of sweet yogurt with a dollop of home made white butter in it. While I couldn’t finish it, I must mention is a wonderful treat that you shouldn’t miss. Price is Rs.40.
Ended both days in gratitude to the numerous people who made my exploration of Mehrangarh Fort, Rajathani music, It’s food and finally in being able to scout and spot the “Blue in the Blue City” and further “Immersing in the Blue” a very memorable travel.
If there are any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section. I will happy to answer and connect with you.