Chokha Dhani

I had been to Jaipur last year. Thinking about that trip always reminds me of one episode etched in my memory. It was about an unforgettable episode in Chokhi Dhani. This trip was with my family which consisted of my parents, my three cousins, their parents and me. In all there were eight of us. On that particular day, we had been to Hawa Mahal in the afternoon and decided to visit Chokhi Dhani in the evening. It was a fun place for the first timers. Right at the entrance, we were served a hot and sour welcome drink. Then the fun started. There were four types of live dance shows. Then there was a Kathpulti dance. Then there was a rope walker. Then we sat in a giant wheel. Then we had an elephant ride followed by a camel ride. Finally we headed for dinner. Dinner was a sumptuous meal of Rajasthani Thali. Besides the usual suspects of Dal Bati Churma, there was a plethora of other dishes. When we were through, each of us rued having gorged so much, we were barely able to take a few steps. So we decided to laze around.

There was a magic show going on close by, and us kids decided to participate in it. The magician was a tall, lanky, middle-aged gentleman in traditional attire. Most of his tricks were, at best, mildly amusing. A couple of times, I was able to spot the tricks up his sleeve, literally speaking. Then he asked for a volunteer and I raised my hand. He called for a coin and I obliged by giving him one. He made a show of making it disappear, enthralling the audience in the process. Finally, I could not take it anymore. With a knee jerk reaction, I caught hold of his hand, raised it up in the air and fished out my coin from his sleeve. He was belittled and it showed clearly on his face. The audience began to heckle him. I stepped down and politely asked for my coin back. He stared at me angrily and flung it over his shoulder. I walked all the way there and I picked up the sandy coin and turned and to my horror, I found no one there. There was no Chokhi Dhani, no manic magician, no melodious music, and no cousins but instead there was a dry, vast, sandy land. I was lost. I was petrified for a while but then I saw a faint light far away. Wondering that fifteen steps from Chokhi Dhani had brought me so far away, I went closer to those lights. Finally while reaching there I saw that it was not Chokhi Dhani but it was merely a group of dilapidated and strange stalls. Disappointed, I still gave the stalls a try by checking them out. I entered the first stall which was a miniature jungle with elephants of the size of a palm and giraffes of the size of a foot. I thought it was all machinery and asked the cost of an elephant. The shopkeeper replied that it cost a hundred and seventy rupees as it was a mini magic elephant. I went to reach it when I heard it say ‘Namaskar’. Baffled, I asked the shopkeeper about it being able to speak in Hindi. The shopkeeper did not answer at all. Bewildered, I soon came out of the shop, entering another shop. The other shop was a diamond shop. I was not so interested in diamonds at that time but I noticed a peculiar thing in one of the diamonds. It was not showing me as it should have due to the reflection but it was merely showing a door. I asked the shopkeeper whether that diamond was a magical one. The shopkeeper replied affirmatively and said that it showed the future. I ran outside to search for a door that could transport me back to Chokhi Dhani.

After some time I saw a man in a corner. I went closer to find that he had displayed doors. At last I had my luck. I asked the shopkeeper about the specialty of the glass doors. The shopkeeper replied that as that place was known as the Magic land, the doors could transfer any person to any place he/she desired to go to in a very less cost. I asked the cost of transferring me to Chokhi Dhani and the shopkeeper replied that it would be only one rupee. As my luck had it, I reached for the coin which was due to which I was here and handed it to him and he let me enter the door and in no time I was back in Chokhi Dhani. I saw my worried cousins and anxious parents looking around here and there hoping to catch sight of me. I approached them and they were very delighted to see me. I narrated the whole incident to them and then when I pointed towards the magician, I saw him grinning ear to ear at me. Puzzled about the reason of his merriment, I approached him and was astounded to know that he had made me pass through one of his invisible doors to prove that he was a real good magician. He wanted to show me ‘the best magic place ever’. He also gifted me his door as a reward for me being so intelligent in magic tricks. He also gave me a piece of advice to use the door only if very urgent, lest the door will take me to another land and not the desired place. I will never forget such a wonderful experience. God has made me so lucky that I even had one rupee coin and was also lucky enough where no one has ever gone before not even my own parents or my cousins. Thank you God!
PS: This is obviously not a true story it’s just an imaginative one so don’t be too scared or surprised by it.

– Shikha Punjabi