It’s not my first visit or the second, I have been to Jaipur more than a dozen times in the past. But this time it was different than the rest – in experience, outlook, ambiance, and offerings. But I am not writing this as a general memoir of the awe-inspiring experience rather about a different context that this place compelled me to write about in, about the civic sense of the city and its people.
I am from one of most crowded metros in the world, and this is not the ‘good’ crowded like New York or Shanghai or Beijing but more of a chaotic one. People from all over the country see Delhi as that one remedial shrine where one can get rid of their problems; they come here in overwhelming numbers, every year, only to realize that the grass only seemed greener this side (cliche). For some Delhi is start of a more ‘exposed’ career, some come here to experience the vanity, few for a piece of its history, other seeking medical care, some others to varnish their political sail, and a whole lot to scholar from its colleges.
With all that ‘pouring in’, everyday, the civic outlook of city doesn’t get any better – no matter what is one coming from – they all treat Delhi as a medium of their salvation – whatever it is they (we) are seeking; none gives a damn to what happens to the city (not counting those few who do for that is an infinitesimally small number) so, it keeps looking disorganized, dirty, and unpleasant.
Jaipur on the other hand, though almost as crowded (and with narrower roads), had learned a few things and beside working on erecting structures local administration had done some good work and the participation (& dedication) of people is remarkable. For starters, one thing you would always find frustrating about Delhi is that there are far less public toilets than how many are required for a city & population this big; on the contrary, you can find a public Toilet in Jaipur more conveniently and frequently. Conveniently, because not only they have made these amenities, they have made sure to put up signage in place to let people know how far the next facility is. Isn’t it great! I for one sure was relived to see these signage, for I prefer to mostly travel on foot for I love to see the places and their people closely which gives me a sense of belonging, and for those moments I feel like walking in my own neighborhood. Another advantage of course is that I get to photograph them in their natural setting! Alas! Well, this was #1.
#2 is very exciting, and I find it ‘very promising’, that a place always flooded with millions of tourists every year has self-pick-self-drop-off bikes available at every other crossing. Go green Jaipur! You did it!
On the roads with PEDL bicycles
I always have fascinated about it – riding a bicycle through these amazing places, capturing everything in my lens, and stopping wherever & whenever I want – but I couldn’t get this to turn into realty – until recently, when I finally found, to my utter amazement and delight, that there was a bicycle stand at Hawa-Mahal, just across the road! Normally I hire an auto-rickshaw or take a bus or some other motorized vehicles from one place to another before I get to walk into the streets for those are the only ones you can get, which had almost always left me longing for more. I needed independence and control of what, where, and when I can visit. Cycles seemed only logical solution and were missing, but now I had it. If you are visiting Jaipur anytime soon – before you try a ride in newly commissioned Jaipur Metro – try cycling through the city. If you love freedom of commute, and respect your space and utility of time – you will love it. I say ‘utility’, for however slow it might seem to you – it will really help you escape road-routes with heavy traffic and cut corners (literally) wherever you want plus you can almost take it anywhere – from crowded markets to spacious parks, and when you feel like you don’t want to hang to it – just leave it at the nearest drop-off stand and take a different ride. I would love to see other cities replicating it. Needless to say, not only it will give commuters a relief, people with cars and motorcycle who use these to travel even the smallest of the distance would take it handy – no more parking in-&-out, and no-more traffic hassles, plus it would help reducing carbon footprint while giving people a good healthy exercise alternative who can’t find time otherwise.
Now what could top the above two? An even more exciting practice – garbage collection & segregation – starting at the basic level.
Unlike Delhi, where municipal authorities have put up relatively huge dustbins, and at some places dumpsters – such as in markets, to facilitate garbage collection and one can see government posters stuck on the walls asking to not litter everywhere – ironically defeating its own purpose, Jaipur had made sure they provide you with no opportunity to litter. Sound interesting? Here is how: Every shopkeeper, no matter how big or small (yes, even those panwaalas) keeps a dustbin outside of their shops that shoppers and visitors can use to throw garbage into. So, whether you are visiting the market or just passing through – you can use these – and not litter around. Now, it is up to people to enforce the practice which Jaipurians are doing great at.
Dustbins At All Places
Hence, amidst all the development works for Metro, widening of the roads, and building flyovers that make Jaipur look like an under-construction site at so many places, these three things are making it better than the rest of the cities.
Visit Jaipur if you haven’t recently and see it all in action, it would really amaze you; and don’t forget to comment and share how you felt!
Checkout the photographs from this trip here.