Monday, September 12, 2011

Jodhpur's Sardar Market

Other than to celebrate my birthday and to find a couple rooftop restaurants to enjoy surprisingly cold Kingfisher, the only other planned objective of Saturday's quick trip to Jodhpur was to wander the market in the old part of the walled city.
Clocktower at Sardar Market
Our guide on our first to Jodhpur in March mentioned that the market was once recognized as the eighth best market in the world. The only reason I remember this is because it was peculiar level of specificity. I have no idea the criteria used and have no expertise on what might qualify the Sardar Market as the eighth best in the world versus the seventh or the ninth. However, I figured anyone willing to make up a story that specific must be telling the truth.
Just another colorful Rajasthani market
After stepping in my first pile of cow crap (I guess I was finally due; on a side note, in a country known for random cows walking around, Jodhpur might win the prize for most wandering cows because I've gotten to the point where I don't even notice cows in Gurgaon but that wasn't the case in Jodhpur), I followed Lindsay and our friend Kristin into a store called J.G. Art & Crafts. By the time I walked in, the multi-generational shopkeepers had fully embraced the women. Not only were they set to receive the non-guided tour price on items (they readily admitted prices were inflated 35% to account for the commission owed to any guide or tout that brings someone into the store; I appreciated the honesty), Kristin had already ordered her first cup of tea (she literally had three cups of tea with the family which may be why they pulled out the family photo album at one point).
The second cup of tea, freshly poured from a plastic bag
The patriarch of the family was rumored to have been running the store for 76 years. Seeing as how he was "only" 86, either the math was bad or 10 year old kids had a lot of responsibility in 1935 Jodhpur. We probably spent more time than necessary with this family and probably spent less money than they would have hoped given the investment of time they made; however, it certainly made for a memorable day wandering around the lively market.
The patriarch of J.G. Art & Crafts
Other than the abundant number of cows, the other noteworthy thing about Jodhpur is that the people seemed genuinely friendly and readily engaged in conversation. Of course, most of those conversations involved telling us, in one way or another, how Mick Jagger and Richard Gere were recently in town (separately, I presume).
One of Jodhpur's many, many cows


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