Rajasthan Roadtrip continues...
13.11.2010 - 16.11.2010 71 °F
About four days ago we were in the strange arid waste of the Thar desert....
Endlessly patchy shrub land broken by stretches of wavelike dunes... We had arrived in the Thar Desert by way of the mud-and-straw village of Khouri. Our guides? One: older man with creases on his face that intensified his smiling demeanor clothes in a white robe and a magnificently brilliant turban. Two: A shining if slightly bored, teenage boy named Bikram who jostled between camel ropes and his shiny phone/mp3 player. Both were not only guides but camel jockeys, cooks, and companions for a short two and a half day safari.
The trip itself had no great events of notes. That is, it was largely growling camels and long walks through dusty dunes. But, magic is in the details! Excitement was woven in the dusty but delicious homemade meals of honey-chapati and fresh yogurt... Wildlife astounded us: hawks, gazelle, and strange colorful birds.... A horizon unspoiled by any man, building, or polluted haze.... and a night sky fantastic and sprinkled with sleepy stars.
The days were spent reading Rushdie and doodling elaborate mandalas in the sand. At night, we wrestled with jokes and stories between sips of the (extremely foul) "desert moonshine" of the locals. All in all, the desert provided that powerful relief from chauffeur and car, crowd and city. Re energized, we headed to the golden city of Jaisalmer - an ancient hub of the East-West caravan routes - reduced to a sandy military-tourist outpost tickling the Pakistani border.
We went to the city not expecting much of anything really. But we quickly revised our mood, reveling in the astounding beauty of the place. Maharajas and wealthy merchants tinkered away sculpting a fantastic city of honeycombed palaces, and windy golden alleyways. We honestly did not much of anything there except backing in the loving artistic soul of the place. Chatting with local store oweners and gazing up at the sunny havelis (historic palaces), we instead chose to fill ourselves with the ancient echoes of cosmopolitan caravans.
By dusk and dawn, we were serenaded at the aptly named "Artist hostel" by brightly turbaned Sufi musicians. It was Eid-ul-Azha - a Muslim the world over - and we happened to be in a spiraling soulful Sufi city! Our small gem of a hostel was set on the very edge of town, was German managed but musician operated. Every night (and really any moment we wished) was a Rajastani cultural performance complete with outstanding homemade meals and picturesque views of Jaisalmer fort.
We probably stayed too short in the honeycombed wonder of Jaisalmer but its impression lingered with us perhaps longer than anywhere in India.