The Faces of Rajasthan- Part1

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Hariram is a musician. He even made his own instruments from bamboo and coconut shells. The string he said was a guitar ‘C’ string. He said they are called Raavanhatha (name of string musical instrument). The three strings on top are used only for the vibrations, while music is played on the one string below, like a violin. There were many on display. I thought back to my time in Hampi- a similar story, a different instrument, how I wanted to buy one then. So I did. He said he has a small music school in his village where he taught students. The beautifully tied cloth decorations hanging from his instrument showed how cherished and beloved his instrument was to him. I asked him for a picture and he quietly acquiesced. I left wondering how many such talents lay hidden in India’s vast number of villages.

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He was sitting outside Jaswant Thada, the ornate memorial for the maharajas (kings) of 1800s. In his hand he held the Raavanhatha (musical string instrument), which seemed to be so famous in Rajasthan. He sat there quietly, playing his instrument, looking at the people passing by. I wondered what worries those lines on his forehead hid.

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He said his name was Shurzaram, as he played the Raavanhatha for me. This was his routine; it’s what he did day after day, everyday during the peak tourist season in Jodhpur. Sitting near the walls of the spectacular Mehrangarh fort, maybe he dreamed of playing in courts of days gone past, or maybe in hopes of the same.

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Jaisalmer fort was now a home to many locals. Its many doorways and rooms provided accommodation to perhaps hundreds today, nearly one-fourth of the city’s population. The yellow sandstone walls grew out of the golden city, towering over it. I felt this man knew how little everything mattered, how he was just one of hundreds and thousands of people making the best out of the tourist season. I wondered how many such seasons he had been through, how many stories he had to tell, how many people he saw come and admire his city,and how he is now perhaps living his life knowing that nothing really matters.

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