THE’ GROWTH’ TO ‘SMART’ CITY
For decades we Jaipurites hung onto an analysis made by a leading news magazine ( 1981) that next to Bangalore, Jaipur was the fastest growing city in the country. Boy! Were we ecstatic! 1981, incidentally, was also the year when Jaipur was ravaged by an unprecedented deluge – thanks to two-and-a-half days of constant downpour. The Officers’ Training School(OTS) on the up-market JLN Marg got totally washed out as did the petrol pump to Amba Bari where I normally got gas filled in my Dad’s hand-me-down Bajaj scooter. Sadly, a large number of lives were lost. The tiger’s open enclosure next to the cage in the zoo got filled up with water. The tiger floated out and when the water receded he was found on the lawns of Statue Circle, amiably gazing at the passer bys. But that was 1981. A lot of water has flown in the ‘Amani Shah ka Nala’ since then – a seasonal nala through which gushed the flood waters of the great inundation. The OTS was back in a few years’ time in its full bureaucratic glory and ‘Amani Shah ka Nala’ is being developed as a tourist destination. God alone knows what happened to the petrol pump.
This city, Jaipur, has amazing tourism products. Even a kid this size knows that. There are the forts and palaces and museums and a walled city painted ochre-red, which surprisingly people call pink. And now the city is being developed as a ‘Smart City’. It figured in the first list of the 20 cities in the country to be developed as smart cities For the uninitiated, we have been told that a ‘Smart City’ quintessentially means that it will be green, have inclusive growth, quality of life, convenience of living and an extremely high happiness index. Whoa! That I guess would be like being ‘Banished to Utopia’, to lift a line from the famous cartoonist, RK Laxman.
WILL MISS THE ZOO
The Jaipur Zoo, all of 140 years old, has been shifted to the Nahargarh Biological Park. I will miss its earlier location. Located near the Albert Hall Museum and the Ram Nivas Garden – I have some very fond memories of it. Reminiscence go way back to my grand-dad taking me there; my dad ; my uncles ; my elder brother taking me there. Later my son and daughter accompanied me when they were 4 or 5 years old. Tanmay, my son, on his first visit to the zoo got very excited on seeing the tiger and even started clapping and screamed: “ Papa dekho tala ( lock). “ His excitement apparently was on seeing the lock on the cage. For the uninitiated, the zoo opened in 1877, and has housed as many as 550 animals. It was divided into two parts; one for mammals and the other for birds and reptiles. In 1999 a mammoth ‘Alligator Breeding Farm’ was set up – perhaps one of the biggest in the country. My former boss in RIICO, conservationist Harsh Vardhan, would often tell of us how once a tiger in the zoo took a swipe at one of the forest officials, splitting his face. Fortunately, he survived.
WHERE THE HECK IS THE NIGHT LIFE?
A few years ago, a lady friend from Indonesia, who was attending the Jaipur Literature Festival ( JLF) said let’s go check out the City’s night life. The time was 10.45 pm. So I took her to Henry’s Bar at Hotel Park Prime. After downing a Long Island Tea – she said the selection of the recorded music is good as is the LIT – but where the heck is the night life? This is it, I said sheepishly. She screamed, ’This is it!. So why on earth did you leave Jakarta ?” I wish I knew.
In all fairness, however, some very earnest efforts have been made in the Pink City for the late evening / night entertainment. Let’s begin with Henry’s itself. It has been a popular joint – no one could deny that. Live bands from Philippines and Thailand have performed here. The Jaipur crooners have also sung on the weekends. The location is central. And then my young friend Titu Naila changed the night scene with his popular weekend parties at the Naila bagh. There was throbbing rock music and drinks and swimming and dancing. At any given time a whopping 300 odd Jaipurites would having a ball. I was pleasantly surprised when visitors to Jaipur would express a desire to go to Naila Bagh for a weekend evening. Ever since Titu has changed the location within the bagh – it really hasn’t taken off. Meanwhile, the Grunge in Hotel Fern arrived in the city with a big bang. Suddenly, the Jaipur’s grooving crowd could now be seen dancing away on weekends to DJ-ed music. It had become the most happening place. Titu once rued that the Grunge had taken away the Naila Bagh crowd. And then came Hotel Marriott with its Lounge 18. Grunge grudgingly gave way to this most happening place in Jaipur. The parties on a week end would continue till wee hours of the morning. Meanwhile, the Alfresco Bar of Hotel Clarks Amer – Tablu would continue to have its loyal clientele on weekends with groovy music and psychedelic atmosphere.
And now comes the two hottest joints in Jaipur – the world renowned ‘F Bar & Lounge’ as well as the ‘House of People’ (HOP). The HOP, at hotel Las Vegas, with Sunny Singh of Replay behind it also has the much sought after live music with sufi on Wednesday nights and rock on Friday nights. On Saturdays it is DJ. F Bar & Lounge at Hotel Golden Tulip on MI Road is just 10 days old but it is chock-a-block already on weekends.
So Jaipur’s night life is slowly but surely changing for the better.
JAIPUR’S AUTO RICKSHAW DRIVERS
The auto rickshaw drivers of the Pink City are known. They are known for fleecing passengers by not using the meter, are uncouth, rude and downright arrogant . And now one of the drivers has added to the shame by raping a three year old girl. Let’s hang our heads in shame.