Just a month before the pandemic- November 2019, I experienced the best vacation of my life.
My dad and I have a small tradition.
We go on a sort of a daddy-daughter trip to different places except well, we don’t get very far. You know, a walk to a park, to get ice-cream or to a bookstore. That kind of thing.
For the first time we planned to go to Jaipur( in India), the furthest we’ve ever been together, alone.
My dad has travelled a lot in his life. Going to different places and seeing amazing stuff and all. So going to Jaipur would not be as thrilling for him as it was for me. This bugging thought had existed in a corner of my mind as I packed for the trip.
Nonetheless, I shook it off and then we finally stepped out of our house.
Bidding a tearful farewell to my mom and sis, we vanished in a cloud of purple dust leaving behind nothing and a toothbrush (later, on a particular morning, my dad would find its disappearance very alarming)
Just kidding. We boarded a flight but we did forget the toothbrush.
Anyway, we finally reached Jaipur, the sudden gust of hot wind making me shiver as we stepped out of the plane.
We checked in at a hotel and beelined straight for our room. And then we patiently and intricately made a list of the places that I had wanted to see.
Soon after this, my dad started showing obvious signs of an idea to drift off to sleep. I laughed nervously and got hold of his arm and hauled him, nope, politely lead him outside the hotel to our cab.
First stop, The Hawa Mahal, a must see building in Jaipur, I had been told.
Hawa mahal, being brick red was glazing in the sun with its fancy clustered windows shone like jewels.
You know sometimes, you keep seeing a picture of an enthralling place but you’re absolutely sure you’ll never see it for real, physically because you know, it just belongs in a picture. That’s how I had felt about hawa mahal, before. When I got there, I couldn’t stop staring at it like a….a dead worm, while my dad took pictures of it!
Souvenirs and presents for mom and sis and friends.
In the late evening, we set out for the shopping streets for that purpose.
Jaipur is also called the pink city of India because it’s buildings are essentially a shade of pinkish brick red. In the morning, when we saw it, it had been bright, sunbathing in the dazzling sun.
But in the evening, it was all lit up, literally lit up. Yellow focus lights were lit up in every corner of the buildings, illuminating them with a soft, dim and suffused glow all over the streets, almost making them feel somewhat divine. I was ecstatic, I kept looking out of the window taking photos and pointing out every single detail to my smiling dad.
Our cab stopped at a street and we got out to shop. Cute little shops lined the street, loud with the heavy throng and vivid lights. My dad immediately showcased his extraordinary shopping skills obviously provoked by his long years of experience while I tagged behind wide-eyed. My dad floated in and out of the shops buying surprisingly nice things and I looked excitedly at the traditional antics, Jewellary and clothes etc…
We had a lot of fun that night, our bags loaded with goods. Later I realised it that it was the first time that my dad and I had shopped together other than for ice-cream or books which mostly involved me, choosing and him, paying!
For the next few days, we visited a variety of places- the city palace, nahargarh fort, jal mahal, Amber fort, jantar manter and the Albert museum.
(Forgive me if there are any mistakes in the names as I only write from memory!)
Jaipur is known for its ancient forts and palaces. And out of them, what I really liked the most was the Amber fort.
On our last day, we drove up to this place, our faces glowing with eagerness.
Amber fort was gigantic, with sand coloured paths running in a sloped manner up to the fort.
We walked all the way up and it was completely worth it. It was absolutely fantabulous! The fort harboured a traditionally native and daedal architecture. It was filled with archways with delicate vintage patterns. It’s time- stained walls made me feel pointlessly nostalgic.
There were a lot of things to see and admire. There was a place entirely built from coloured shards of mirrors. There was a place where pictures of kings who ruled it lay, along with their long names. We saw the queens’ quarters and a display of weapons used in wars. There was also a puppet show and a food stall for breaks. Overall, it was quite overwhelming. We took hundreds of pictures, my dad transforming into a photographer for this scene. One word. It was totally……. enchanting!!
To finish off our day, we went to a light and sound show featured in the fort. We were seated in a high terrace with the fort directly in the front, the full moon shining above us. The show started. Voices and songs aligned with the lights which were dancing on the fort. The fort was practically illuminated with different hues and the voices told us the story of the fort and it’s kings and the songs sung us back in time. It was a dazzling experience. Somewhere in between, a plane flew above and I smiled at the contrast of the situation. My dad too noticed and smiled back at me.
‘Are you enjoying this trip, darling?’
‘Yes dad. Very much! Are you?’
‘Although I have been to too many places, this one is the best trip yet because you came with me.’
My usually clear eyes fogged up with tears at this.
‘Thank you dad!’
Soon enough the lights became dark and it was time to head back. Tomorrow we would travel back home.
And later, we planned to visit different places like Jaipur. My dad also promised that he would take me along to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal the next year. But alas, the pandemic strikes!
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