ajay singh shekawat, my poorly spoken english “guide” in the shekawati region, known for its stunningly painted old mansions [havelis], was a direct descendant of the royal family. he lived in a fort. it was an ancient and slowly decaying one in a small village surrounded by fields, but was still a fort.
as part of my haveli tour of the region ajay took me there to visit his family and see the life of fort dwellers.
an integral part of every fort is a “waiting room” which faces the main gate, where the maharaja would lounge about and wait for visitors. its usually decorated quite lavishly and with photographs of the importance ancestors. in ajays waiting room i noted that there was a pin up of the latest model of tractor amongst the family portraits [wtf?!].
in ajays village we visited some old and notable havelis, and also tombs of his great grandfathers, which are well regarded for their well preserved ceiling artwork. ajay pointed to the tombs and said to me “I’ll be there one day”. I assumed he meant a long way into the future but from his deadpan expression I was not so sure./p>
As we waited for 2 hours for the non-arriving bus back to Nawalgarth [the village I was staying in] he sent for the fort servant to bring a copper pitcher of water to the bus shelter where we were waiting so he could have a cool drink.
*note that I am trying to scam an invite to his wedding in december or jan, I think that would be very interesting