Jaisalmer pt 1

            We’ve been to two different cities since last writing as well as one more day in Udaipur. It’s hard to keep up with all that’s been going on and everywhere we’ve been. The last day in Udaipur we went around to temples in the city. First we went to the City Palace, Bagore ki Haveli, to the tourist part of the city for some shopping, with an amazing lunch at this place Santosh where we had dal bhati (a food typical of Rajasthan). The Palace was awesome, and involved various rooms that had many different motifs. I love Indian Palaces because they’re party still in use and many of them were built quite recently. There was one room with tiles from Portugal and China. The Udaipur City Palaces belongs to the oldest serving dynasty in the world as well. All the palaces, so far, have these things called jails, which are windows with tiny tiny (and very intricately designed) holes for women to look out from; people from the outside can’t see in though.

After the Palace, haggling over a bottle of water for which we were overcharged, we took a rickshaw to Santhosh’s where we indulged in an amazing thali, Rajasthani style. For once no one made a big fuss over Aaron or his hair – at one point Gayatri had to tell a man off for saying something in Hindi about Aaron and his hair. Aaron is a very good sport and it’s hard to explain that many people might never have seen a black man before, on top of that a black man with long dreadlocks. The food was amazing and we had the dal bhatis which were made in the fire and rotis that were exquisite. The kitchen is just attached to the room where we ate and we allowed ourselves to be touristy enough to take pictures as well.

From there we went to the Bagore ki Haveli which was originally a house and has been converted into a museum. We allowed ourselves time to be absolutely ridiculous and silly on the roof of the building, which had an excellent view of the river and the Lake Palace Hotel. It was a fun museum besides that. We took a quick round of the touristy area for a little shopping and ventured right back to the Haveli to watch a typical Rajasthani dancing show. There was a show of six different kinds of dancing (including one with puppets). All of it was so well performed and for certain ones I wanted to cry because it was so beautiful. Afterwards, while speaking with the MC (because of course we were the last ones to leave and had to converse with everyone (I love us!)) he said that he saw how invovlved in the dances we were and that it happens with a lot of people – dance evokes emotion. It was beyond beautiful.

In a bit of a rush we packed up our stuff, ate a quick bite, and went on the bus to Jaisalmer. It was an interesting ride throughout in a non ac sleeper/seating bus. We all opted for the sitting seats because the road can make you go rolling up and down and probably are quite uncomfortable while lying down.  Quickly we all slept. Most of the others on the bus were foreigners as well but they took the sleeper bunks. When we woke up, in the light, many folks kept ascending and descending the bus. Many men with different coloured turbans kept getting on the bus. Each turban indicates a different profession (traditionally). At one stop, a bunch of uncles got on who all smelled really good. Gayatri told me that Rajasthanis are known for being very well put together in terms of presentation. I would have to agree with her.

As soon as we got to the hotel we figured out the rest of our plans with the owner who was very helpful in getting us settled. We decided to chill out for the morning and go for a camel ride safari in the desert while sleeping in the sand dunes and under the stars. This was the best part of the trip so far (with a lot of competition of course).

On the way to the grounds we went to an abandoned village (with a really cool story that basically says one day an entire village disappeared overnight), the Cenotaphs (mausoleum), and a sample house. The climax, of course was the camel ride safari.

We made friends with our safari leaders – the leader I spoke most with is Ganpat, a young boy. He let me lead my camel, Raja by myself later on. ImageImageImageImageImageWe spoke about Rajasthan and his family (between the two rides there and back), and I learned a bit of Marwari as well. Him and the rest of the guides, Bhati (a 27 year old who puts off being married every year, for another) and Harish who will turn 20 in September led us through the desert, through some sand dunes and finally to our resting spot. They made us chai and an amazing dinner, set our sleeping area, and then provided answers to the many questions Gayatri and I tend to ask. After indulging in too much food and chatting too much, we made our way to the beds. This wasn’t before we had fun playing with the thousands of desert beetles; no matter how many times you shooed them away or put them in a box and relocate them, they kept coming back. They didn’t bite, not really, but nibbled a little.

Aaron finally caught a bit of a stomach bug, but not terribly. There was some mirchi sauce that went with the dal and sabjee. Gayatri and I dug into it, but Aaron probably shouldn’t have had it. Although, we both agree he’s doing an amazing job with all of the new food and cultural items.

There was no moon to look up until waking up in the middle of the night. It clouded the stars with its brightness. Until that point, the stars were numerous and glimmering. The night was amazing. We slept without any lights or noise from any part of the world. I don’t remember the last time I was around such silence.

The next day we woke up to a coolish desert, the bright sunrise, chai, and another hour and a half camel ride back to the jeep that would take us back to the hotel.

To be continued…

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