Photostory: A red-canopied welcome

“I think someone important is coming.”

“Do you think it is SRK?”

“No, it must be the Maharaja himself.”

“I’m telling you it must be some firang (foreigner).”

I can’t help overhearing this excited chatter and squeals of anticipation as I step out of the Museum of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. A group of 20 somethings is standing to one side and craning their necks over a barricade to see something that I cannot. I am intrigued and join them as do some other tourists. And soon we are looking at the entrance to the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, which was abuzz with some activity. What happened next is not really an unusual sight in a 5-star hotel, but as a tourist in a touristy place, I couldn’t help be one myself. πŸ˜€

A bright red silken canopy is being unfurled and readied.Who is the visitor, I wonder? So do others and the guesses are flowing fast and thick.

Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

And now they are almost ready to unfurl it… Who is the visitor? The group that has collected to watch this ‘welcome’ is now placing bets.

Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

As the canopy is unfurled, a hostess comes down the steps and almost on cue a car comes up the long and curving driveway to a smooth halt. The guessing game has reached feverish pitch now. Who is it? Who is it? The car door opens and a firang steps out


And then another firang emerges from the car. The hostess is all smiles now …Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

She welcomes the guests with a handshake and a smile.

“What ! No namaste, no garland? Whatever has happened to the Indian traditional welcome”, someone comments rather loudly.Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

And the canopy holders welcoming committee look back to see if the guests are inside…

Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

And the, in the blink of an eye, the red silk canopy is folded…Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

…taken inside and then …Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur

Never knew being a canopy holder could dirty my hands, is what the person on the right seems to be saying to the person on the left πŸ™‚Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, JodhpurI’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the comments of those watching this canopied welcome unfold or photographing the actual welcome as it happened. When I photographed this series of frames, it was a fun thing and I never really thought much about it. It is only when I was organising my photographs that I saw the narrative emerge as a photostory. And that’s how this post came about.

I ‘d love to hear what you think of this maiden attempt of mine. So please, please do leave your comments:-)

42 thoughts on “Photostory: A red-canopied welcome

    1. Thanks RM. It was really one of those things that happened. I guess the firangs must have loved the canopied welcome and all. I would probably have cringed or gone red with embarrassment if welcomed like this. At the hotel in Bikaner, I almost ran away when they came to welcome with marigold garlands and tikka. πŸ˜‰


    1. Yes, I could have added more of the conversation. Thanks for the suggestions. The guesses for who the visitor(s) could be were SRK, Brangelina, the Dalai Lama, the US President, a rich Arab, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Anil Ambani, Madhuri Dikshit, Dhoni …

      The comments were not really critical, they were more light-hearted and with a wish to be received like that. πŸ™‚


      1. Entertaining to be in such situations. I overhear the most hilarious conversations on the Delhi Metro. One lady telling the other how to manage her boss, relationship advice, political discussions, once an entire gang of Indians who have lived in Russia as students talked about their experiences…..could make for a book actually!
        Love your posts!


        1. Thanks, Mukta πŸ™‚

          I’m actually amazed at how much people share their private lives in public. My daily bus commute is highly entertaining and I’m actually working towards a blog post on that sometime next month.


  1. The comments along with the pictures of the unfurling canopy were hilarious…..Well! I notice that the firangs travelled by a Toyota Innova. If the visitors were Indian celebrities, most likely they would have arrived in a BMW or Mercedes or Audi etc. Now, that may have been much more fun to watch. Imagine Preity Zinta sending one of her aides to check out the wash rooms ahead of her….


    1. Glad you liked them, TGND and thank you so much for the appreciation πŸ™‚

      I would like to develop the Photostory into a series, but this will depend on when I can spot and shoot potential narratives. Let’s see πŸ™‚


  2. This is really interesting! I wish instead of handshake she had garlanded them and said Namaste, that would have made the traditional indian welcome more complete.!!

    A visual treat! πŸ™‚


    1. Welcome here, Kislaya and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Maybe this was only step one of the welcome process. Maybe there was a garland and namaste and tikka and aarti and welcome jaljira or whatever πŸ™‚ Who knows what happened once they entered the lobby !


    1. A welcome like this would have seen me running off ! But I wouldn’t mind spending a night or two at the Umaid Bhavan, if nothing for the experience πŸ˜›


  3. That was funny Sudha, and I loved the style. Do write more of this kind.

    P. S. Being married to a hotelier and knowing some of the Umaid Bhawan traditions through him, I know that the Indian style welcome of namaste, garland, tikka happened inside. There also might have been some sprinkling of itr or rose water on the guests..;)


    1. Thanks, Atula. I enjoyed writing this one too.

      Thanks for this info. But tell me why the canopied welcome? Is it specific to the Umaid Bhawan or other Taj hotels as well?


      1. The canopied welcome is specific to Umaid Bhavan, where royal guests were welcomed in similar style in the era of the Maharajas. It is practical too, knowing the scorching heat of Jodhpur. Someone already prespriring from thoughts of meeting His Highness, might not want to show it one the face too…;-)


        1. So, it looks like I have captured something unique and specific to an iconic place like Umaid Bhava. Thanks for sharing this piece of information, Atula πŸ™‚


  4. So, from travel posts to photo stories πŸ™‚ And, re one of your replies, I too feel that embarrassment in the Club Mahindras and hv this irresistible urge to say “Dispense with the garlands and the tikkas and get me that cool drink” πŸ™‚


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