Reunions, hold different experiences for different people. But no matter how it turns out, you would invariably end up traveling back in time and relive those innocent, silly, and adventurous days of your early adulthood. For me, I find it unburdening amidst the chaos and grind of the responsible, adult life. College reunions can be exciting, especially, if it comes as a surprise to you! Just like it happened with me a few months ago. It was early summers and I was on a solo trip to Jaipur, attending a literary event. Little did I know that my work trip will turn into an exciting weekend!
The accidental meeting
I had just finished speaking at the seminar I was attending when I bumped into two of my college buddies, whom I hadn’t seen in almost eight years. After exchanging pleasantries, I learned than they were here for the same event and they had met a few more of our college friends who were having a vacation in Jaipur. Immediately, we agreed to meet up later in the day.
That evening, we gathered at the Indian Coffee House. It is one of the oldest cafes and a popular hangout for artsy folks like writers and artists. I had no idea that the art graduates of my class would eventually become literary geniuses. Age and life had caught onto them but it was comforting to see that we were still like-minded and shared the same passion for literature, music, and modern art. The café’s ambiance with high-arched ceilings and vintage décor also contributed to that warmth. The post-sunset crowd was still shuffling in, some already huddled in their respective corners, surrounded by the faded walls that had stood the test of time. The heady aroma of coffee and other concoctions filled the air, while we got lost in each other’s experiences. At the end of it all, the two friends who were on a vacation proposed that we explore Jaipur together and celebrate the reunion. Next day we booked a spacious tempo traveler in Jaipur, so we could all travel together.
I visit Jaipur occasionally but had never visited with my friends. Also, the last I toured Jaipur like a tourist was when I was in school. So, this trip would be a unique experience in itself.
Exploring Jaipur with friends
Needless to say, as art students, our interest always lied in the ancient architectures. Amber Palace was the first place we visited. The 16th-century fort sitting on a hilltop was an icon of Rajputana artistry. It was a little outside town and took us almost half an hour to reach. The golden sandstone exterior contrasted the green surroundings and crisp, blue horizon. One of our friends was a professional photographer who spent almost half the time and an entire memory card on capturing the edifice in various frames. The interiors were no less exquisite. From the ornate Belgian glass work and intricate enamel detailing, it was a feast of the eyes.
Outside, at a walk of about 2KM, there was an ancient stepwell, also an archeological site. Availing a reliable and hassle-free car rental in Jaipur, made it much easier for us to travel back and forth, without much ado.
Next, we stopped at the Hawa Mahal. This iconic structure will always remain a mystery to many and one would never understand the technicality of its architecture. A legacy of its own, the huge palace is pure art on pink sandstone with more than 950 windows.
Later in the afternoon, we came back to hang out at the Jal Mahal. I still remember the ghost stories I had heard about this otherwise stunning palace inside the huge lake. We spent the evening admiring the marble work and the sunset views on the lake, while the lights of the palace lit up the water body and cast a warm glow around it. Two of our friends wanted to see if a woman actually appears at night and sings. To make it eerier, it was a full moon night and that is when supposedly these so-called paranormal events take place. I wondered if a spirit would be so keen on visiting amidst all the light and chaotic tourists. Much to my friends’ disappointment, nothing happened or appeared and we resorted to our hotels.
The next day, which would be our last, we decided to have a lavish dinner and toast to this unexpected rendezvous. But before that, we went to see a few more sites around the city. The first was the Albert Hall Museum, which has been preserving the state’s history since the 18th-century. As a history writer, museums are more like a working ground for me. The rich display of art, artifacts, weapons, jewels, and much more, help stories of Rajasthan in three-dimensional objects.
We also did a short trek to the Nahargarh Fort, which sits high on a hill and offers the best views of the city. It reminded us of our treks we would often go for in our college.
Sitting on the hill, watching the city below, we felt revived, not because of the trip, but because we got the opportunity of revisiting some of the best times of our lives, even if it was for a few days.