My fleeting visit to the city of Jaipur in pleasant September, and it was a chance for my constant companion of recent times – the Sprocket Rocket, to capture some Lomo magic of Jaipur’s historical soul. Truly, Jaipur and the Sprocket Rocket are a match made in heaven!
September 20, it was time for that much-anticipated visit to Jaipur to catch up with old friends. We were a group of 5 who have known each other since our first year in Architecture school and that was way back in 1988.
Hitesh comes from Mumbai, Suresh and Shailesh comes from Delhi, Dinesh was our host from Jaipur, and yours truly traveled all the way from Goa with the Sprocket Rocket in tow.
The Jaipur experience kicked off in the best place possible…in the old city and strolling on the main bazaar street leading to the Hawa Mahal.
The ‘Hawa Mahal’ when translated, means the Palace of the Winds and ever since it was built by the poet Rajput king Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 AD, it has been this city’s iconic building showcasing everything spectacular about Jaipur’s old-world charm.
Standing tall on the edge of the street, the Hawa Mahal is identified by its front wall, intricately designed with viewing galleries on all its floors, to allow the women of the royal household, in the old glory days of the Raputs, to watch the street life below.
With this honeycombed facade, Hawa Mahal in the fading evening light, looks very much like where the ghosts of the Rajput King and his family reside, still presiding over the life in their city. It is the most beautiful piece of local architecture and is a compulsory visit for everyone in Jaipur.
The walk had begun with anticipation rising as we approached the Hawa Mahal and in preparedness, I readied my Sprocket Rocket, taking a few trial shots of the street.
Lo and behold, our leisurely stroll got instantly converted into an impromptu Hawa Mahal Lomo roadshow. Many stopped to stare at the Sprocket Rocket at work, most were intrigued by the winding action while I forwarded the film. Some wanted to hold it, a few wanted to just touch it, and many wanted to take a picture with it.
Among the onlookers was Tikam Chand in his loud maroon shirt that matched the vibrant colors of the bazaar, shade for shade. He looked like he belonged, and seeing the vigorous nodding of his head while I explained all about the Sprocket Rocket to those curious around me, it seemed he appreciated everything about analogue photography.
After the crowd dispersed, Tikam Chand introduced himself and there perched behind him, bang in the middle of the footpath, was his own analogue camera, a majestic looking antique wooden pinhole camera mounted on legs with the hood and all held together by all kinds of tape and strings and adorned with the pictures of a few Hindu Gods and some of his family too.
It was a moment to cherish, the tiny light newbie Sprocket Rocket meeting the big daddy of analogue photography Tikam Chand’s heritage pinhole camera with legs. The roles were reversed and now it was my turn to want to hold it, touch it, pose with it, and of course, take a picture with it, but mostly I wanted to take it away with me.
Surely, besides the Hawa Mahal, Tikam Chand and his beloved pinhole camera is a pair that one must not miss meeting in Jaipur. Both of them are sitting on the right side of the Hawa Mahal, if you’re standing facing the palace.
And if there is time, please do ask Tikam Chand to capture a moment of you, through the pinhole. He will gladly do so for a charge. Remember bargaining for a good price is very much acceptable and without bargains, the Jaipur experience will be very much incomplete.