Home > India, Rajasthan, Travel > The Fort and the Foolish Footballer

The Fort and the Foolish Footballer

We arrived in Jodhpur, India’s blue city within the vast Rajasthan desert, to find no rooms at the Guest House we‘d chosen. But this is India, and the owners weren’t going to let customers slip through their hands; no rooms, no problem. That night we slept on the roof, and although it got a bit chilly up there we had a wonderful view of the magical Jodhpur fort that towered over us and the blue city. We paid 80p for our foam beds and were rewarded early in the morning by the spectacle of the sun accentuating our surroundings as it arose from its slumber. The rising sun made our backdrop even more enchanting. The city was completely still but for some early rising monkeys on neighbouring roof tops. The small cramped streets that spewed cows, rickshaws, touts and tourists by day lay motionless in the gentle orange light. The fort seemed to whisper a gentle awakening to the city, waking it as a mother would a baby. Carl and I watched in awe as slowly, one by one, the engines started and life returned to this crumbling blue desert milieu. After been given a normal room within the guest house we joined the familiar Indian circus of the city.

Walking the narrow streets of Jodhpur proved to be quite an effort. Small shops selling nuts, spices, jewels and Diwali decorations oozed out of their confines and onto the lanes only to be trampled by passing cows and run down by rickshaws. Toes were trod on, shoulders met and as usual we were lost in a maze, trapped within the confined streets that all look the same. We needed out. We headed for the fort.

Somewhere we took a wrong turn and ended up by a small lake at the bottom of the fort. We could see the entrance and a nice looking paved road about 1km from us, but we couldn’t work out how to get to the road. We asked a group of Indian teenagers who were coming from the direction in which we wished to head. They pointed to what looked like a crumbling wall that crossed the lake and would take us nearer to the entrance. We soon realised when we started climbing that this was part of the fort that was maybe damaged in battle and that it was anything but safe. We were breaking into the fort. Carl was wearing his makeshift turban and Liverpool FC t-shirt, he called himself Indiana Gerard and demanded that we carry on. My flip flops gave in and broke half way over but Indiana Gerard chose to blissfully ignore my predicament and urged me forward forgetting that I was in fact a flimsy little Welsh girl and mistaking me for an adventurous barbarian with a spear.

We finally reached the other side of the lake and landed in grassland filled with thorns which was rather irritating considering my lack of footware. Indians started to peer over from the wall in front of us. I think there may have been some pointing… maybe some laughing too. We finally reached the wall and again had to climb over; me with one shoe and a number of cuts on my feet and legs. We’d also managed to get quite dirty. To Carl’s disappointment we emerged just next to the ticket office. We had broken into the part of the fort that requires no ticket… probably because no one apart from Indiana Gerrard would want to go in there.

The foreigner entrance fee into the fort included an audio guide that was presented to us by the most enthusiastic audio guide giver man I have ever encountered; and I have encountered many in my time. “Are you ready to experience the best audio guide in the world?” he asked in the style that a ring master would use to introduce a circus act if this ring master had a Queens English / Indian accent. His act continued for about 10 minutes as he spoke to us and another foreign couple about how stupendously marvellous this brilliant audio guide was. His enthusiasm never dwindled. As soon as he’d handed us our audio guides and bid us farewell he started his speech anew with the same zest he’d shown us.

To be fair, as audio guides go, it was up there. Carl and I stood stroking our chins, keenly listening to the animated battle scenes and factual information that the guide provided. The Indians, who got in for 20 rupees, no audio guide included, would shun the sandstone castle and take ‘snaps’ of all these foreigners standing around nodding their heads, ahhing, hmming and muttering to themselves ‘interesting’. Despite the superiority of my audio guide I must confess I remember nothing of the forts history and if that is what you’re interested in I invite you to do a google search. There were canons, venomous spears and daggers, old battle gear, clothes, paintings, elaborate rooms and other items of interest that one would usually find in a fort.

As we looked out onto the surroundings that we had clambered over earlier we saw a group of boys heading that way. Carl and I nudged each other – lets see them do it, eh! The boys walked confidently to the spot where we had begun our climb and to our surprise slipped through a secret tunnel and emerged the other side of the wall onto a footpath. So that was the way Indiana Gerrard and I meant to take. I glared at Carl to which he replied “what, that way wouldn’t have been any fun”… a phrase I’d herd a few times before and would surely hear again.

I was still struggling with one flip flop so we decided to leave the fort and buy me some new footwear and sample the famous saffron lassi which is a delicacy in Jodhpur; it tasted like a refresher bar. But of course, we could not leave before Indiana Gerrard had played with the canons some more.

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