Monday, 1 April 2013

road repair in Jodhpur

The morning I arrived in Jodhpur there was a tall stack of rubble and two overturned wheelbarrows blocking the newly paved street to my guesthouse.  The still wet cement was decorated by an array of dog prints, hoof prints and bird-foot prints, like an intricate tribal wood-cut design.

Adding my own marks, I stepped lightly in the pre-dawn dark, making my way to my next stay.

Later that afternoon, one man was filling one of the wheel barrows that had blocked the road at dawn with sand and pouring it atop the now dry cement, creating a street not unlike one long sand box.

Early evening I literally gasped as I turned the corner of the street on my way back to my guest house.

A young man with a hose was turning the entire street into a gloppy river of mud. There wasn't one inch dry enough to walk on without the mud sloshing over the top and sides of my sandals and oozing between my toes.  Adding to the muck was cow piss and shit, otherwise somewhat avoidable, but now ingredients of this street soup.

"What are you doing?" I asked the man with the hose as he continued to add more water to the mess.

"Road repair, Madame," he answered as he sprayed.

By the next morning I sighed a sigh of relief.  The gop had dried and once again there was terra firma. I happily made my way to the clock tower to sip masala chai with the guys on the tiny narrow wooden benches.

But evening brought a new wave of incredulity.

Once again the young man was hosing the street and again turning it into a mass muck of mud.

"What are you doing?" I asked, my mouth gaping open in horror and disbelief.

"Road repair, Madame," he answered without averting his eyes from his task.

All day, tourists and locals alike sloshed through the river of mud and cow piss, searching in vain for spots of dry land.

By the third day of this cycle, I stopped asking.  I knew what he was doing - street repair Jodhpur style.

I've left Jodhpur but can't help but wonder if he's still at it.

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