Near the iconic Hawa Mahal and City Palace, the brothers Tikam Chand and Surendar have been using their antique box camera to take instant photographs for anyone who is willing to wait several minutes and pay a price for an one-of-a-kind vintage experience. Known as Pahari Master, the grandfather of the brothers was the former maharaja’s photographer. Given as a gift from the maharaja, the 1860 German made Carl Zeiss Jena camera was Pahari Master’s apparatus to make a living. Gone were the days when Jaipur was ruled under the maharaja. The 1860 Carl Zeiss camera had since then become a family heirloom from Pahari Master to his son, and then to the brothers Tikam Chand and Surendar. In the last three decades, the brothers had been taking instant photographs for people in the historical heart of Jaipur. Bloggers and media outlets such as CNN and LA Times have written about the brothers and their grandfather’s antique camera. In recent years, their photo stall has become a small tourist attraction in its own right. For us, checking out the 150-year camera and having a photo of ourselves taken by the vintage machine was a top priority in Jaipur. Fortunately we made it just on time to be Tikam Chand’s last customer of the day, before it get too dim for photography.
At 5pm, we left the City Palace and began our quest of the 1860 vintage Carl Zeiss camera. We found our way through the Jaleb Chowk Square and Naqqar Khana ka Darwaza (Drum Gate). In the old days, court musicians would station at the upper level of the gate to announce the arrival and departure of the maharaja.
Then through Naqqar Darwaza Gate we finally stepped out of the former royal compound and arrived at the market streets of old Jaipur.
Known as the pink city, many buildings in old Jaipur have been painted in the iconic pink colour.
The market streets of old Jaipur are full of merchandises of all sorts. As the capital of Rajasthan, many people in the desert state come to Jaipur for shopping.
Before sunset, we finally found Tikam Chand and his 150-year Carl Zeiss camera.
While chatting with Tikam Chand, we sat down on a bench and get ourselves ready for the one-of-a-kind vintage photo shoot.
Many think a vintage 1860 Carl Zeiss Jena would be locked up in a glass display box in a museum. It was hard to believe that this valuable artefact could actually work properly after 150 years.
Looking into the back viewfinder we could see an upside down image.
Tikam Chand first took a negative portrait of us, and developed the photo in a small box at the back of the camera. Then he took another shot of the negative to get a positive image as the final product.
Newspaper cutouts and vintage photographs served as the best advertisement for the brothers.
By the time we bid farewell with Tikam Chand and the 1860 Carl Zeiss camera, darkness had already fallen upon. Just a stone throw away, we stumbled upon the magnificent Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Wind.
The picture perfect Hawa Mahal is perhaps the most published image of Jaipur.
At Hawa Mahal, we flagged down an auto-rickshaw for Peacock rooftop restaurant, a popular dining venue that we discovered from online research.
The Peacock rooftop restaurant was neatly decorated based on the peacock theme.
The food was decent and the cozy atmosphere was enhanced by the lovely live music.
Established in a former mansion, Arya Niwas was the mid range hotel where we stayed for the night.
The old wing of Arya Niwas had its old school charm.
Across Sumida River from Ryogoku and south of touristy Asakusa lies the low key Kuramae (蔵前), a hub for young artists and craftsmen in Tokyo. After visiting two interesting museums in Sumida, we opted for a moment of relaxation just a stone throw away at Kuramae. Like many up and coming neighborhoods, Kuramae contains a rather leisure atmosphere. Without the tourist crowds that we would normally see in other more popular areas of Tokyo, there were still a considerable amount of local visitors in the area. Queues were lined up in front of some of the most popular shops such as Kakimori, the wonderful shop of handmade stationery, fountain pens and anything related to writing. We started off at Camera, a cosy little cafe selling good coffee, snacks, and handmade leather accessories.
We started our brief Kuramae visit at Camera cafe.
We sat by the long counter with coffee and snacks. There were a few racks and shelves of leather accessories on display behind us.
Maito offers a wide range of clothes and accessories made with dyes extracted from nature, such as flowers and tree bark.
The most popular shop in Kuramae we encountered was undoubtedly Kakimori stationery shop. Visitors lined up outside the shop waiting for their turn to put together a custom made notebook with self-selected paper, cover, ribbon, etc.
Inside Kakimori, other visitors were busy checking out the fountain pens, ink, and other writing accessories.
Dandelion Chocolate was another highly popular bean-to-bar chocolate factory originated from San Francisco.
We also spent some time at Koncept, a trendy shop with cool merchandises from all over Japan.
After Kuramae, we took the metro to visit another interesting trendy fashion and design store, the La Kagu. A grand wooden staircase provided a welcoming gesture for all pedestrians and visitors.
Converted from a 1965 warehouse of a publishing company by renowned architect Kengo Kuma (隈研吾), La Kagu immediately became a retail landmark in at Kagurazaka (神楽坂).
La Kagu is consisted of different lifestyle zones: food, clothing, shelter and knowledge.
After La Kagu, we walked along the high street of Kagurazaka (神楽坂). Kagurazaka (神楽坂) is a traditional Japanese neighborhood with a French twist, thanks to the considerable number of French expats living in the area.
Cafes, restaurants, bakeries and boutiques line up the high street of Kagurazaka (神楽坂).
In a side street, we stopped by a ramen store for dinner.
We ordered our ramen from the machine outside.
The friendly staff then prepared our bowls right in front of us.
No complain could be made by ending the day with a bowl of delicious ramen in a local neighborhood of Tokyo.