In December, we went to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India with
mother and sister. It was an amazing place. Incredibly different from being
in South India. I guess it must be something like the difference for
foreigners in the USA going from Wisconsin to New Mexico. Completely
different cultures, language, and animals (camels!).
As we drove there from Agra, I kept looking at the map and noticing how much closer we were getting to Pakistan. I don’t know why, but I get more interested in visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan every day. I can’t think of many good reasons to go there these days, and there plenty of reasons not to go. Still, I can’t get over the infatuation.
We took a taxi down (I couldn’t talk the family into going by camel cart) to the main shopping area in Jaipur to feed our collective addition to consumption of goods. For some reason, no matter where we go in India, I’m always drawn toward the back alleys. From one small, cramped street to a smaller and more cramped one until there are no choices to turn around and go back.
Everyone else went into a saree shop, so I took the opportunity to start my regular descent into the depths of the Indian shopping streets. I didn’t get very far when I noticed a saxophone hanging in a window. I stopped and asked (in Hindi—no English here) for the price. It was about $10. Not bad for an alto saxophone, even if it needs some work. I decided not to buy it, and walked back to the saree shop to meet up with the family. A minute or two later, a man approached me, inviting me back to the small music shop. I’m thinking “Oh great, now they’re going to try to bargain with me”, which I don’t really mind. The best time for me to practice Hindi is when people are annoying me. The more annoying the person, the better. I lose any inhibitions I might have of making mistakes, and just dig right into it.
It turns out they just wanted me to come back and talk to them. By the time I got back to the shop, the number of people there had grown from 3 to about 15. Apparently, they were all members of the Rajasthan Brass Band. They proudly showed me the official band photos on the wall, and introduced me to the band’s conductor. They insisted that I come in and sit down with them for a solo trumpet performance by one of their star players. He played a rousing version of Brazil.
Before I left, they asked that we all pose for a picture together with me awkwardly holding the $10 saxophone. Kelly took this photo, which they asked for us to send to them (we still owe them a copy).