A night in the Desert

The cold desert winds, a clear sky overhead, shivering under a layer of blankets, which seemed to hold little or no defence against the brutal cold winds… and yet I could feel nothing other than a sense of complete exhilaration and bliss. A completely surreal experience, it took me awhile to believe that I was actually living my dream – to cover some of the known yet unknown places in Rajasthan.

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Amongst the most popular destinations of the country, Rajasthan probably is in the travel bucket list of every kind of traveller. My first visit to Rajasthan was years back, and then trips to Rajasthan meant one destination Jaipur. This time around I wanted to explore the lesser known areas of Rajasthan.

After painstaking research, planning and pouring over different maps, I decided on keeping the top cities of Rajasthan as my base camp and from here I would visit the neighbouring villages. So in the middle of February I headed out on my 2 weeks journey down the very famous land of kings!

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The cool February winds found me in Jaipur, my first base camp.  Soon with a sense of complete joy, exhilaration and freedom I began my very first solo exploration and road trip! If I were to write about my whole journey it would probably take more than one entry to explain the journey, so in this particular entry I will restrict myself to visiting some of the villages in Rajasthan that were en-route Jodhpur to Jaisalmer… and this is where my story begins.

It began one night at a hostel balcony at Jodhpur. Over a cup of spicy masala chai, I got talking to one of the fellow backpackers and in the course of our conversation I happened to learn about few unknown villages on the way to Jaisalmer and one of these caught my attention – Jhamer.  I was told that the village was located approximately 50 kms from Jodhpur and most buses that heading towards Jaisalmer pass through this village

Intrigued, I fired up the search engine and began the hunt for – Jhamer, and I found one Wikipedia entry of few words: Jhanwer is a village in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India. Jhanwer’s population is around 9,000. – Wikipedia.  That was the end of the page! Nothing like a blank search on the internet to get me excited! So looking for the earliest bus Jaisalmer I hopped on!

Tightly huddled with layers of clothing and my journal I embarked on my journey to Jhanwer. At 11 pm the biting winds and deserts welcomed me… in my haste I had forgotten one essential thing, figuring out where I can crash for the night!

Shivering in the middle of the desert at 11 pm the first emotion that struck me like a wrecking ball was fear, unbridled raw fear… I truly understood the meaning of fear, it was fear that I never felt before the fear of survival (this is not the fear that you feel every day or when that sudden pedestrian or cyclist zooms past your vehicle)… this fear is more base. I felt the pump of adrenaline into my system… a shiver ran down my spine, and I am not that sure if it had anything to do with the weather. Somehow, this feeling had completely skipped through all my grand plans… I guess you can never account reality and baseness of an experience in your plans.

Nevertheless, braving the weather and my fear, I walked on for what seemed like miles, carrying my huge rucksack and my bottle of water. Walking in the cold with a heavy pack, in an empty desert landscape can be quite an experience. The winds were howling, each step on the strip of desert land felt like lead and a sinking feeling began setting in, would I be alive after this ordeal?

When I saw a few villagers carrying bags and walking further down, my fear seemed to ebb away. Trying to keep pace with these men and women I increased my stride, fortunately for me, these villagers took pity on me and offered me shelter for the night. Breathing a sigh of relief, I now began my excursion towards the hut of these simple folk.

As the night progressed and I found myself in the home of some humblest people on the face of this planet. I felt all my earlier reservations and fears dissolving in the warm glow of the candle light and lantern of the hut and verandah. Not for the first time I realise how much we actually complicate life, here nothing mattered except the simplest pleasures and happiness of life.

The smiles and laughter came easier, lying down on the rooftop with a warm blanket under the clear starlit sky, I realised thought my body was weary, my mind was free… and a smile played on my lips as I felt my eyelids close on their own accord.

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