Chokhi Dhaani / Jaipur

Funny I read actor and former VJ Rahul Khanna’s fabuloulsy written post on encountering a cockroach just at the time when I am these days faced with similar problems – albeit involving a completely different species. Rahul’s tryst with a cockroach is funnily narrated. But my daily face-to-face with lizards hardly tickles my funny bones.

My enemies are not the cockroaches; I can bear them, buy information pills medicine and they look pretty mild, patient as compared to the animal that seems to be here, there and everywhere in my house – the lizard. When the mercury soared this month, I had to open the windows and doors; else I’d have died of suffocation and heat. But instead of any cool relief, all I got were these creepy crawly things running over the walls, and sometimes on the floors.

I have a total lizard-phobia; so much so that my heart stops whenever I see one in my room. It’s something from childhood, or probably inherited from my mother, who has an exponentially higher quantum of fear towards the reptile. When we lived in Delhi’s R.K.Puram a neighborhood lady once came up with a solid black mark on her cheek. “A lizard walked and pee ‘ed on it,” she explained ever so casually to my utmost horror, even as I struggled to catch my dropped jaw and dropped heartbeat. Whether she meant it as some perverse joke or no, but that night I barely slept, digging further into the flimsy sheet I had wrapped myself in. Then, there was a movie where a lizard jumps into the kheer. Lately, at Jim Corbett National Park, two passionate lizards – either fighting or making love, I didn’t bother to ask them – made a dive onto the bed with a repulsive plop; I stood watching aghast in a shocked stupor.

At home, my father is the lizard-catcher. I often look at him in awe as he goes about ‘the mission’ , doping the animal with an insect spray, picking it up between two brooms and throwing it out of the house all this, while I peep stealthily from a respectable distance! I tried doing this in Nepal (and here too) but the very sight of a live lizard wriggling at the end of the brooms is enough to freeze the blood in my veins!

It’s ok when the reptile stays within its bound territories far up the wall, in the drawing room. But when it assumes the role of a conqueror (or rather a CEO of an expanding company) surveying its territory and increasing its base, my own animal instincts valiantly arise and I have to protect my terrain (read my bedroom and bathroom!)

Now, I simply call a friend when I find the menace rising a bit too much out of control. Last week, he was here to do the cleaning up job, and I watched with amusement as he directed two perky lizards out of the drawing room with the tip of a broom – all along I jumped and pranced, like those extras behind a hero in a film song, and offered much sound, but no help!

Rahul gives a philosophical twist to his tale of the pesky cockroach:

I’m a firm believer in non-violence but I m also aware that we all have limits we can be pushed to. I have often wondered if driven to it, could I kill?

Frankly, I never gave it this deep a thought. But when I see the thing rushing all across the wall, I am sometimes ready to murder, though I don’t think I will be able to really give result to such a thought ever. Yes, it’s murder on my mind, but it simply remains there rather than transferring it into my hands. I don’t want a Lady Macbeth-ish guilt in my hands. Plus, a dead lizard’s sight is worse than a living one!

My moot question – when there are sprays and other assorted means to wipe out a mosquito or a cockroach (even a rat), why hasn’t anyone invented any such easy device to repel a lizard? My ideal would be some sort of a machine that I put on, and they miraculously disappear – no running after them, no dead bodies to account for!

I accept they are part of the grand food-chain and have an important place but can they (and their food, the mosquitoes) please do this great ecological cause out of the confines of my home?

Related Reading – Nocturnal Sounds – The Initial Nights in Kathmandu
A Snake In My House

Jaipur impressed me. While driving on the University Road leading up to Hotel Clarks Amer, seek it gave a feel of a mid-Eastern city (Dubai or Doha) replete with gigantic grunting construction machines peeping out of neatly-defined very foreign-looking boundaries ( I guess a World Trade Center is getting built there). The smooth wide road dotted with street lights (that actually worked) and lined by steel-and-glass architecture gave a very international feel. For me, this Jaipur is an old halt – I have visited it several times, done all the touristy things and even once got my car accidented. But it’s the first time I felt that the city has actually progressed well. Compared to Agra (the other angle in North India’s Golden Triangle), it came off as the bigger, neater and more responsible cousin. However, the drive to Jaipur didn’t offer anything smooth as this portion of the axis is still under construction – perhaps a couple of years down the line, Agra-Jaipur Highway will give stiff competition to the current Delhi-Jaipur one.

Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhaani is an ethnic village resort, on the outskirts of Jaipur, on Tonk Road. The place is extremely well built, presenting five-star rooms albeit inside ‘huts’, imparting it a rural touch. The entire place is in brown and ochre, the color of mud! ‘The Village’ inside the resort is a happening place. Even though I have stayed at the resort sometime circa 2001, memories had somewhat dimmed.

‘The Village’ has all the trappings one finds in an actual one, though of course, the setting is suitably sanitized. The ambience is feral and festive. There are several rides – elephants, camels, bullock carts and merry-go-rounds (typically wooden as found in rural fairs). You can try your luck and aim at the various ‘game stalls’ – shooting off balloons with air-rifles, or throwing darts and even using an exotic bow-and-arrow. Lose yourself in the mud labyrinth, and once you find the way out, play human ‘snakes and ladders’ with a large cloth-dice and your own selves as the counters. Alternatively, loose your wallet at the mini-shopping arcade selling local ethnic-ware.

To refresh, you can just watch the colorful ladies dancing to folk music, or better witness the flexible steps of little artistes (who’d move from the folk to the film music, depending on your interest).

The village’s further section is the most interesting. There you can taste a traditional hookah, and once high, dance with the ‘tribals’ to the beats of a huge drum placed atop a machaan. It truly brings out your inner wild spirit as you dance holding a stick atop your head in your hand, with your feet raking up the sand in a feral cloud. Climb the machan, and you can even beat the gargantuan drum with the sticks! Feeling naughty? Click yourself with a life-like statue of a traditional lady in bright Rajastani dress (complete with the veil). A little distance ahead is a ‘cave’ carved inside an artificial hill. Dark and deep, the end will surprise you as a ‘tantrik’ sits, enveloped in smoke from a fire that burns. (The fire is real, the ‘tantrik’ is a larger-than-life statue).

Tired? Return to the village square (or ‘chaupal‘), set up for those who need some rest. It’s filled with khaats (jute cots), and some cemented seats filled with thick mattresses and oblong pillows (the kind that the royalties used), under a thick banyan tree. Nearby, you can view the ‘puppet show’ and some meters away the henna girl applies the deep mehdi on the women-folk. Food is aplenty – from the syrupy ice-candies to the spicy jaljeera to the cool kulfi (ethnic ice-cream made of thickened milk) to the chatpati chaats.

If the village sojourn exhausts you, head back the tiny bridge to the main section of the resort to the Chandi Bar, and refresh yourself -no, not with some local spirit – but with the choicest brands available.

Related Reading – Rangeela Rajasthan

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8 Responses to “Chokhi Dhaani / Jaipur”

  1. hey! im so tired of having people think of jaipur being some kinda rural town and believe me when ppl say “its a backward city” it really pisses me off !!
    And yes , i’m from jaipur!
    The only thing i dont like is the sweltering heat! lol!

    P.S.- i’d read the story called a scandal in college that ud written and i thought it was petty good! i dunno why i didnt comment then..

  2. Exclusively_me A warm welcome to my blog! Many many thanks for reading Scandal In College 🙂

    Yes, true Jaipur can’t be called ‘rural’ or ‘backward’. (BTW, what is the road called which I have mentioned in the post?)

    Hope to see you here as regular…

  3. Junlei says:

    City of Jewellery, City of Sangamarmar and City of the Palaces.

    Pink City ki Chokhi Dhaani……

    very well description.

  4. Mehak says:

    Will comment later in detail on this post.

    Tara Rum Pum :: typical Yash Chopra movie….perfect family with beautiful house, designer kapne..n cuteeee doggie….khushi gam khushi….

    When do we get to read your take on the movie on RE????

  5. Mehak – My take on the movie is out now 🙂

    Juneli – Thanks 🙂

  6. Mehak says:

    Very well written desc of Chokhi Dhaani….have never been there…T has a couple of times & has also visited the one in hyd……yeh padh kar mujhe toh Haveli (Jal-Ldh highway) ke yaad aa gaye…

  7. Manish says:

    I will repeat myself. The concepts like Chokhi Dhaani sounds good of if we want to fool foreigners but not us. They have over done this.

  8. Mehak – Thanks 🙂 Havent been to Haweli though…

    Manish – It’s good fun though… at least when u r with colleagues/friends, it always is…

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