National Geographic : 1960 Oct
tomically thin foil. "No," my dinner partner said. "You eat the foil. It's pure silver, and very good for the digestion." I popped it into my mouth. The silver foil gave no trouble, but an acrid tartness shriveled my tongue. Trying to disguise my expression, I swallowed hard as my partner added: "There's nothing like pan-I think you call it betel-after a fine meal." 40 Feet of Muslin "Build" a Turban From Patiala we went to the pink city of Jaipur.* Renowned for its rose-pink build ings, its Rajput paintings, its brasswork, and its warrior kings, Jaipur shines in the heart of Rajasthan with the brightest colors of the dyemaker's art. "Wait until you see the turbans they build in Jaipur," we had been told. And "build" them they do, with as much as 40 feet of thin muslin in blues, purples, yellows, and reds. Viewed from the top of any building on market day, the crowded streets look like never-ending beds of animated sweet peas. On other days, when there was room to move around, Helen and I walked the streets, marveling at the varied handmade products being fashioned on the sidewalks, the en ameled brassware, the boldly patterned wood 464 block prints on cotton, the delicate tied-and dyed saris in designs traditional for centuries. Paintings of elephants and soldiers on walls of buildings and homes caught our eyes, and we asked our guide about them. "In the old days," he told us, "the maha rajas had their private armies, and at the gates of their palaces they posted guards. The people wanted the same protection, but since they couldn't afford it, they had the symbols painted on their walls." The feudal magnificence of India's princes has all but vanished because of high taxes, soaring costs of living, and assimilation of estates by the central government when India gained independence. Yet each year in New Delhi a pageant of a different nature keeps some of the traditional splendor alive. We arrived in India's capital just before that pag eant, the Republic Day parade (page 466).t Since midnight the crowds had been wait ing for the festivities to start. Trees flanking the Raj Path were filled with villagers cran ing for a glimpse of Prime Minister Nehru * See "Around the World and the Calendar with the Geographic," by Melville Bell Grosvenor, NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, December, 1959. t For a vivid description of India's seat of govern ment, see "Delhi, Capital of a New Dominion," by Phillips Talbot, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November, 1947.