Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Desert

Well, I was wrong about there being no place in India where there are not throngs of people. The Rajasthani desert is a place where people are as scarce as water. It just proves that grand generalizations are always, always wrong.

Also, everyone but Thom and Usha has now succumbed to some kind of intestinal bug. It makes sense that Usha has averted it, but we are wondering why Thom has remained unscathed. The only difference in behavior that I’ve noticed so far is that he comes to breakfast every morning in excessively pressed shirts. Or maybe it is his iron constitution. All I know is, he walks like he knows where he is going.

When I first heard about a camel/tent outing in the desert, I had envisioned that we were going to ride the camels out into the desert with all our supplies and then setup the tents and hang out over a campfire and then ride the camels back the next day.

Then I learned that the tents had bathrooms in them and that we were riding jeeps out to the campsite about 4 miles from Manvar Resort. The word “resort” should have tipped me off. It turns out the tents are more like cabins made of canvas. It was essentially a little tent city out in the desert:

And each tent was basically a hotel room:

The most uncomfortable thing about the tent was that the hot water being piped in wasn’t quite hot enough to account for the open air shower, and I was ever so slightly chilled after turning the water off:

So, yeah, we were roughing it.

In the evening, a singing group provided entertainment. They were very good – the energy, if not the instruments, reminded me a little of the singing during Capoiera play, a Brazillian dance/martial arts form that all the Schreibers do.

Just when you think you are at the end of earth and getting a taste of what entertainment was like for a thousand years in remote parts, the swami-looking guy on the end pulls out a cell phone during the performance to take a call. He is apparently more technologically advanced than my daughter Jasmine, who still has to wait another year before she gets a cell phone.

Food-wise, the resort was OK, but didn’t compare to other meals we’ve had. They had a buffet and I had rice, naan, a potato dish, paneer (cheese cubes), and dal (a lentil soup, which we’ve had at most meals). And yes, that is pasta next to it all. My advice is not to go to India for the pasta. The lemon sorbet was excellent though.

We went on the long-anticipated camel ride the next morning and it was a lot of fun. There is a rhythm to riding a camel that reminded me of the few times I’ve ridden a horse, but more so, because it’s less stable on a camel going up sand dunes.

Unfortunately, Cindy was not feeling well enough to go the camel ride. But at least she got to sit on one:

We had 3 camels and felt like the 3 wise men at times. Or maybe the 3 wise guys.

We weren’t out in the middle of nowhere, though – there was a town of a about 3,000 over a ridge, but I had a hard time figuring out where those 3,000 people might be.

The pictures don't really do it justice. You can click on one to get a bigger version, but really, a 70mm movie theater would be the place to get the right perspective.

Fence posts here are made out stone. That would be pretty expensive at home, but in the desert, there is plenty of stone and I suspect wood is too precious to be used for mere fence posts. The resort is almost all stone as well.

Today’s adjective for Usha is The Omniscient Usha, because she knows just about everything, now including which drugs to buy for weak Americans.

Everyone but Cindy and I took a jeep ride into the deep desert, where the true dunes were. I’ll post some of those pictures later.

The desert itself was simply beautiful. Having just toured 3 cities choked with millions of people, animals, machines and noise, the desert was open and quiet and sublime. I’m having a hard time describing it, but we were all content to just sit on our little tent porches on Mennonite Row, take it all in, and just be.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Jill told me you weren't able to blog much from India, and then I see an entire week's worth of posts!

Good to see you're having fun. The pic of you on the camel is great. Travel safe.