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Jaipur musicianA TOUCHING MOMENT IN RAJASTHAN 15/06/09

Having become infatuated with India from our first visit, my wife and I found Rajasthan one of the most memorable places.

We liked the scenic Aravalli hills and the beauty of the cities, particularly Jaipur and it’s surrounding sights. We have returned to Jaipur 3 times and visited the Amber Fort on each occasion, a magnificent piece of the region’s history and Mughal influenced architecture, with views over the hills and valleys forming a great backdrop for photographs.

On our first visit we noticed a local musician seated on the steps up to the palace entrance. He was an old man dressed in the Rajasthan multicoloured turban, playing a teeth grating stringed instrument. He had a face sculptured by the dry sunny climate over many years and a pair of spectacles that sat precariously above his permanent smile. On being presented with this photo opportunity I asked him if I could take his photo and he nodded and kept on playing, I left a few rupees at his feet and continued our guided tour.

The following year we returned to Jaipur before going on to ‘new’ cities in Rajasthan, we went up to the fort again and there was the old man sitting in the same spot, playing what sounded like the same “tune”. I took another photograph or two and paid my dues.

Last year, again passing through Jaipur we were taking my brother-in-law on his first visit to India and of course Rajasthan. My wife had suggested that maybe I should take a copy of my best photo of the old man with me to give him as a surprise. When our guide took us into the main courtyard he could see that I was looking around trying to find something and he asked if he could help. I showed him the photograph and explained I wanted to give the old man a copy. He recognised the old man and said he would go and ask some of the other locals that frequented the fort for their business.

Jaipur musicianWhen he came back he said that he was sorry to say that the old man had died. He could see the disappointment on our faces, but he said he had a surprise for us. A minute later a young man approached wearing the same clothes and distinctive turban as the old man and he was carrying the same musical instrument. He was not wearing spectacles but he also had a grand beard and moustache, favoured by the men of Rajasthan.

The guide introduced him as the old man’s son. I gave him the photograph and asked the guide to explain our previous visits and our original intention of giving it to his father. The young man started to cry and came over to give me a huge hug. When he finally let me go he said through our guide that this would be the families’ only photograph of his father.

Quite an emotional thing to happen on holiday, it gave us an even better reason for loving Rajasthan.