Since arriving in Jaipur I have been woken up every morning with the call to prayer at 5.30 am. The first voice booms as if from my balcony and in a manner of minutes more join in and the whole of the city is simultaneously nudged from sleep. Some of the chanting is more melodious and seems to float on the dusty clouds, others bellow out the words Allah is Great and woe betide you if you are not listening.
Soon after, the familiar whirring of the tuk- tuks making their way into the backstreets delivering or picking up passengers with the more than occasional honk and the pigeons starting to coo in the tree outside my room.
The swish- wish of the sweeper and the clearing of many throats follow- and I note with some amazement how they can clear them at all. In a week of being here I can feel my lungs trying to expel the dust and dirt and failing. Towels show marks of the dusty day and skin is dry as parchment.
The breads are being made and the smell of garlic and ghee and sizzling spices add to the mix of heady smells and people are bundled up and waiting for the sun to start working its magic.
All night long the music blares whether from the front lawns of the hotel where a Rajasthani band is brought to amuse the tourists or from megaphones placed strategically by your ears as you walk down the street. The trombone player was part of a wedding band that we encountered in the hotel which hosts the wonderful music concerts of the Festival at night. I was swept in to the procession by one of the hosts and gaily danced down the street with them. Late that night their party was coming to an end as ours too was winding down. We saw them sitting on their peacock throne, a little subdued it seemed to us all. Perhaps the excitement was proving a little much even for them and their bed beckoned for that much needed salve before the Iman sang again.