28 December 2008

Christmas Day, 2008

Christmas Eve found us for the first time feeling a sense of loneliness and dislocation. We had spent part of the morning meeting with Shasthri about his plans for me to address the NLU faculty at its upcoming three-day in-service on teaching and skills training. My topic will be the pedagogical strengths and weaknesses of traditional case law study versus fully developed case studies and problem solving exercises. After picking up some of our misdirected luggage, the afternoon found us touring the massive Mehrangarh Fort with Digvijay. We have seen some large castle fortresses in Europe but none compare in size to Mehrangarh and none exceed it in beauty. (Its walls and ramparts extend for 10 km.)

Christmas morning brought Shasthri, Leela, and Digvijay to us with Christmas cards and a gift of a German chocolate cake decorated for Christmas. An encouraging act of service. Digvijay had located a church with a Christmas morning service but when we arrived we found an overflow congregation with a service in Hindi. We were directed to another nearby church whose services were in English but it had ended shortly before we arrived. Oh well.

We toured Mandore Gardens late Christmas morning and the Umaid Bhawan Palace that afternoon. The Gardens has been built for the Rathore Dynasty who ruled large parts of Rajasthan (the Marwar region) from the mid-fifteenth century until India’s independence in 1947. The founder of the dynasty, Rao Jodha (after whom Jodhpur is named) had built the first stages of Mehrangarh Fort. His ruling descendants lived there until the 1940s when the Maharaja Umaid Singh built what is now known as the Umaid Bhawan Palace. We toured the public parts of the palace early Christmas afternoon. Part of the palace is a five-star hotel and the remainder is occupied by the current head of the dynasty, although he was stripped of his royal title by the Government of India in the early 1960s.

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