Monday, December 5, 2011

       Today, where the rich gold of shifting desert sands provides a backdrop of drama for sylph-like women clad in saris of saffron, carmine, emerald green, fuschia, blue and gold, little has changed over the centuries. 
Shopping in Jaisalmer Fort
        One can wander along narrow cobbled alleyways for hours. Traders sit cross-legged on the floor at the entrance to Lilliputian shops. Chewing betel-nut, they spit streams of “paan” with remarkable accuracy on walls long stained with splashes of crimson. Their merchandise ranges from Kashmiri shawls and silk carpets to hand-painted miniatures, silver chapatti boxes and opium canisters.
       Seeking respite from the heat at midday, we stood in the shadows beside a fruit and vegetable stall where the sweet aroma of peeled mangos mingled with the pungent smell of ripening vegetable.
       Like the locals, we ate naan (unleavened bread) and biryani (vegetables and rice) with our fingers. Risking a dose of India’s notorious “Delhi Belly” we quenched our thirst with lassi, a delicious iced drink of yoghurt blended with sweetened mango pulp and ice cream and topped off with ground pistachio nuts.
Jaisalmer beauty parlour
       Refreshed and ready for further exploration we moved on, attracted by the resonant boom of a gong that rushed from the doorway of a Jain Temple.      Directly opposite, across a narrow alleyway, an ill-hung and battered door gave entrance to a disreputable looking building. Red paint lettering inscribed on the wall announced the presence of an Indian ‘beauty parlour’ with the words “Henna, body massage, head massage, waxing, manicure, pedicure and shampoo”.
       Next, we came upon a familial confrontation. From an exquisitely carved balcony festooned with drying bed sheets snapping in the wind, a Hindu mother leaned out, chastising her teenage son on the street below. He, unaffected by her scolding, tossed his hat in the air and sauntered around the nearest corner. 
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Tuesday, 6th December, 2011


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