Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chokhi Dhani- A mere deception?

It’s Thursday morning, 9 A.M. and thanks to shutdown, I have the luxury of lazing around right now, curling my feet on my cosy bed. Life’s good (mostly) these days with lots of time to do the lot that I usually want to. I went on a short trip to Jaipur with my friends last weekend. Though, I did manage to enjoy owing to the company I had, the trip offered few major disappointments. A big spoilsport being Jaipur’s scorching heat, there was another bigger let down. The main item on our Jaipur itinerary was Chokhi Dhani- a much heard about place in Jaipur. Almost every now and then, I hear Delhi’s much of the elite heading towards this place and I well, was quite tempted to check this out. All that I feel about it now is that it’s evidently more of a fad than anything else.

Chokhi Dhani is a resort in Jaipur which tries to capture the cultural heritage and charm of Rajasthan and its village life. The question here is, why do we even need this? Ain’t places like Chokhi Dhani a dime a dozen in a country like ours which inherently is the “land of villages”. Even today, the Gandhian belief that villages should remain the main building block of Indian society stands so true. When roughly 750 million of India’s 1.1 billion population still continues to live in it’s 680,000 villages, Do we actually need these village kind setups?

I guess the only people who get actually benefitted by these places are it’s owners. The place is way overpriced and considering the crazy hordes of people who rush there every weekend, I bet, the owners have their hands, all in black. But what does it actually offers to an average middle class Indian like me?

Imagine the plight, a place jam-packed with minimum 1000 people, scorching heat, dust all around, and after literally an hour of waiting in a queue, I get to have the so called traditional Rajasthani food, which again was just average considering the other places that I tried in Jaipur.(Here’s a tip: We tried a place called LMD in Johri Bazaar. It did assuage the disappointment that Chokhi Dhani offered. ) By the time our turn came, half of the dishes were simply not available. It was evident that they were just not able to manage the large number of people who have turned up but still we had to pay a whooping 350 bucks per plate for a disappointing meal.

India is a land of diversities. With more than 29 languages spoken by more than a million native speakers, and radical cultural shifts every thousands of kilometers, India sure has lots to offer. I would like to see and experience every bit of it in it’s actual manifestation rather than by paying thousands of bucks to some rich businessman. The owners of Chokhi Dhani have surely done a great job in bringing multiple facets of Rajasthani culture at a single place. Such places do nicely mimic the whole village set ups but they can never capture the essence of India’s ethnicity.