Lit­tle Jaipur has qui­etly mor­phed it­self into India’s cap­i­tal of cool

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - News - BY SWAPAN SETH

In his bril­liant piece for the John Adams In­sti­tute on what makes a city cool, Ross Tilchin draws one’s at­ten­tion to Am­s­ter­dam. He writes, “Am­s­ter­dam has a strat­egy wor­thy of your at­ten­tion. Since 2000, the city has ad­min­is­tered a ro­bust set of poli­cies aimed at sup­port­ing artist stu­dio spa­ces and cre­ative in­cu­ba­tors. A mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment agency known as the Bureau Broed­plaat­sen helps groups of artists trans­form aban­doned or un­der­utilised spa­ces into places for cre­ative work. The agency pro­vides sub­si­dies, credit guar­an­tees, project man­age­ment ex­per­tise, and le­gal as­sis­tance to get the in­cu­ba­tors off the ground, and then the spa­ces are run as in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions. With a fif­teen-year bud­get of only €48 mil­lion, the city has cre­ated over 60 in­cu­ba­tors hous­ing over 170,000 square me­tres of highly af­ford­able cre­ative space. Thou­sands upon thou­sands of artists have ben­e­fit­ted.” I see Jaipur headed in the same di­rec­tion. I have al­ways main­tained that over the past few

years, it has swiftly mor­phed into the cool cap­i­tal of the coun­try. There is a sub­tle sass in its stride. A silent swag. And it is all un­der the radar. Very few cities in the world carry the weight of tra­di­tion with the gait of cool. Jaipur does that. It plays ef­fort­lessly on the see­saw of the then and the now.


I al­ways stay at The Su­jan Ra­jma­hal Palace. It is crush­ingly cool. The ho­tel is old-world in its ar­chi­tec­ture yet hip in the chem­istry it ex­udes. There is a vi­vac­ity in its calm. Where else will you find ul­tra-vi­o­let cush­ions rest­ing on teal­coloured so­fas? Or a bot­tle of 4711 Eau De Cologne in the wash­room? They have a guy who walks around the cen­tral gar­den wav­ing a flag to keep the pi­geons away. And be­cause Jaipur is rather windy, the ash­trays have lit­tle stones. Sand has this habit of fly­ing in the wind.

De­tail is the pre­sid­ing de­ity at Ra­jma­hal. And the food has its own flour­ish. The Ra­jma­hal Café is now the din­ing ta­ble of the dis­cern­ing in Jaipur. I had the Lal Maas Slid­ers – a bril­liant fu­sion. There’s the Coniglio Kaachar Pizza – rab­bit meat cooked the Ra­jasthani way. There is a sur­prise in ev­ery serv­ing, a wink in ev­ery course.

Ra­jma­hal serves as the per­fect pref­ace to the posh­ness of Jaipur.

Tapri is an­other hip­ster hang­out. Tea with Parle-G bis­cuits. Maggi Noo­dles with tadka. The Kala Chana Chaat is play­ful, as is the Kachum­bar Khakra. Tapri is no jaded café. It is wit in wheat, satire in se­vaiyan. It is run

Tapri is no jaded café. It is run by two m en who are show­ing their mid­dle fin­gers to con­ven­tion

ma­jes­tIc A dec­o­rated gate­way at the Am­ber fort in Jaipur brings alive the his­tory of the roy­als

cool anD clas­sIc The Ra­jma­hal Palace is old-world in ar­chi­tec­ture yet hip in the chem­istry it ex­udes (be­low)

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