Travel Diaries day 3 & 5: Story Within a Story

What? Were you expecting a proper structure? You won’t find that here, because the current order makes the journey more sensible.

The third day of the grand tour begins at Bangaluru’s International Airport where I’m sitting at 7:00 in the morning, cursing the airline company that rescheduled our 4:30 pm flight to 8:30 am. While waiting for the flight, I spot two gentlemen who look like they are from Southeast Asian countries and head over there to eavesdrop on their conversation.  They are having a conversation about major companies.

The first guy, let’s call him Lee, was making a comment about Google. The company, he said is facing high attrition among its employees as they leave to start their own ventures. Employees are sort of using major firms to get good money, knowledge and exposure before they start their own businesses. The second man looked Indian but his accent gave the impression that he was an NRI.
Replying to Lee’s comment, he said that the way people see companies has been changing over the years. Boardrooms are becoming less secretive and opaque than the past as the print as well as social media talks more and more about how companies are being governed.

It was this conversation that foiled all my attempts to resist sleep.

We hit Amber fort straight away after arriving in Jaipur. Jaipur, by the way, is the kingdom of the famed Mirza Raje Jaisingh who cajoled Shivaji into visiting Agra. The guide at Amber fort, Jaisingh’s home, told me that because Jaysingh had promised that he won’t be harmed in Agra, the latter’s son Ramsingh helped Shivaji escape. Marathi people who were there did not agree to this version of the story. Also, according to the sound and light show at the fort, the Kachwaha Rajputs shifted their capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1726 to escape attacks from guess who? The Marathas. That’s right. We are the villains in their story, folks.

We visited the City Palace the next day, and below is the thread for that,

 But what I really want to share with you is an idea I had when I visited Mehrangarh Fort on day 5.

We got there just as the fort was closing. The audio guide stall was closed, and we just had to roam the fort on our own. It is an intimidating structure which has about 4 floors, three levels of high walls, and seven gates. The walls form dark, narrow lanes which open into beautiful little courtyards surrounded by intricately carved buildings. The fort witnessed a major siege by the forces of Jaipur in 1806, but held out to the end, crippling the enemy.

Mehrangarh is a true testament to the Rajput culture of war, and that brings me to the core idea: story within a story.

Visiting Mehrangarh brought back an old story idea I had. It had originally come to me when I once stumbled upon an interesting Wikipedia entry about an abandoned African town called Kolmanskop.

Here’s the idea: A magician suddenly appears in a desert and starts building a city.
Who is he? Why is he building the city?

Mehrangarh unlocked some of these answers, and the story just took off.

It is still a developing idea, but who says a story has to be complete or structured? Why not try to enjoy some weird incomplete ideas?

So here goes:

The magician (inspired by Dr Strange) is building the city (which looks exactly like Mehrangarh)  for a secret society of warrior-assassins called “Shantidoot” (meaning messengers of peace; inspired by the Assassin’s Creed). What people do not know is that the society is led by the country’s crown prince who is a shrewd and practical as a fox despite his noble goals. The prince, let’s call him Chakradwaj, (after Lord Vishnu)  does not agree with the policies of his father and the conventional values of his nation’s society which values war, sacrifice, and honour to a fault (like the Rajputs). The country is at war with its neighbour as their ancestral books say that a city deep inside the territory of that neighbouring country is sacred land promised to their people (Israel-Palestine). This has led the army led by the king’s cousin to become powerful and thrown the country’s economy into ruins (think Pakistan)

The prince wants to give up the claim on that city, establish trade with the other country, and bring peace and prosperity. Also, he wants to change the ways of his people, making them value knowledge and logic over foolish notions of bravery and honour. To that end, he has a two-fold plan:

1. Assassinate major arms traders, politicians, and military suppliers from both sides and disrupt arms trade.
2. Facilitate research that will make food and scientific technology cheaper,reducing prices and encouraging innovation that would drive people away from war and towards prosperity.

The secret city in the desert is his base operations.

So, how does Prince Chakradhwaj achieve his goals? What challenges does he face?

These two questions remain unsolved. Maybe they will be solved later or maybe they won't. But who said a story has to be complete in order for you to enjoy it? Instead, why not celebrate an incomplete idea? It's a curious and exciting point to stop, don't you think?

FAQs and forgotten threads:

Q: Where is day 4?
A: Day 4 and 6 were spent in train journey from Jaipur to Jodhpur and Jodhpur to Jaipur respectively and it will be dealt with in a separate post later.

Forgotten thread:


Popular posts from this blog

The Comeback

How to learn a foreign language

Rules for the New Bookshelf!