A walk through the bazaars of Jaipur on a winter afternoon and it is a visual delight – a kaleidoscope of cheerful colours, a vignette of simple things of life, bright innocent and happy. There is it, a constellation of non-descript shops selling jootis, embellished lovingly with threads in an explosion of hues – carnation pinks, copper sulphate blues, luminous greens. And there, an indisciplined row of rickety stalls offering kites and spindles, the kites in a riot of look-at-me colours, proudly flaunting their patterns, an eclectic mix of chappan chhuris, chand taras, tirangas to name but a few. Then the sunless lane that houses the spice market, the loud yellows of turmeric in raucous disagreement with the violent reds of the chillies. The alley of the silversmiths, on display small boxes of silver in a motley of shapes, squares, rectangles, paisleys, diamonds, the mute gloss of silver, some blemished by a kiss of air, adorned with intricate meena work in a spectrum of electric blues and luscious greens. The moss – smothered brick wall from where hang the puppets, man and wife in their vibrant red – green attires, they spring to life with the tug of strings and then drop to lifelessness again.
And the Bandhnis.
A humble ball to start with. In no way inspiring. Impatience. Cynicism. And then a tug. A firm twist. A pull and a stretch by two helpers. A couple of vigorous flaps. Millions of tiny threads fly out. In anger. And the full nine yards reveals itself in all its glory. A feast of colours. Precise involved designs. A marriage of sharp contrasts, a blue wedded to a sublime pink. Or green to vermillion orange. It’s a theater, a metamorphosis that unfolds under your awestruck eyes.