I was revisiting a back catalogue of photographs from my first trip to India. I had chosen to shoot both colour transparencies and B&W. Viewing the negs. I came upon a series shot in Jaipur, then a bustling city of largely unpaved roads.
A bicycle seemed the obvious way to commute in the wacky races traffic chaos of the city. Jaipur was fun to navigate on the old ‘sit up and beg’ solid frame with the approximate weight of a small donkey. I raced kids and carts through the streets until I reached the road to the Amber Fort. The road was a gradual climb through the Rajasthani landscape, passing the derelict Lake Palace, a mahout and his elephant and two young guys sporting a new Royal Enfield motorbike.
The Fort occupies a promontory overlooking the city offering splendid views of the surrounding landscape. The ride up on the iron donkey afforded plenty of opportunity to take in the views as I approached the fort. So on entering the courtyard I thought myself deserving of some light refreshment, a cool beer. In keeping with the spirit of this grand fortification I purchased a bottle of Cannon and sat back in the evening light and heat to savour the moment. I was a solitary visitor in the company of a tribe of monkeys on sentry duty on the roofs and battlements.
A steep cobbled street led back down to the city, a pedestrian approach with a few evening strollers. Fueled on Cannon and astride my two-wheeled steed I shot off downhill, a boneshaker of a ride spiced with the excitement of a roller coaster. I may have yahooed en route, cant be sure. It was the drink, Your Honour.
Late evening commerce clogged the streets as I cruised into town. A barbershop doing a brisk trade seemed a likely place to tie up. I reasoned that a two-week old growth inhibiting an even suntan needed the attention of a cut throat wielding barber. Lathered up and laying back the deft hand swept the blade across my face and throat. So good was this guy that he had acquired an audience, or maybe I was the evenings entertainment. As he removed the gown I motioned to a cluster of upper lip growth that had escaped the cut throat. A gestured response indicated that all Rajasthani men wore moustaches, as was verified by the reflected gathering. My protests were met by a shaking of heads. The moustache had to go and duly and reluctantly the Barber, the gathering, and the present Hindu Deities relented.