Walking on the sand is slow, heat makes it even slower. Even though the afternoon sun was not as harsh anymore, it felt more like a footslog than a walk. The only thing that would make it more pleasurable would be the breeze. However, hot air was standing still.
Small campground of somewhat scattered tents, outside the town was in a slightly different location since few years back. From time to time the dwellers have to move a little further away from the expanding town. That’s part of a Bhopas life.
Joyful laughs of the playing children were heard from afar. Tall and unfamiliar figure was slowly approaching the camp. The second they saw the gora, their excitement doubled and all of them started to run to greet the adrift wanderer first.
Call for a morning prayer was coming from a minaret of a nearby mosque. It was still dark and early. Change in time zone did its thing and full night sleep was impossible. Clock on the wall was ticking loud and way too slow… It was still few long hours before Tara or Gouri would wake up.
Finding someone in the city with population of over 2 million is not an easy task. There were almost a hundred photographs in my bag taken on the streets in the maze of this amazing old city few years back. With Gouris help (huge thanks to him!!!), at the end of the day there was a lonely photograph of an elderly man left we couldn’t find. Another one we gave to the relatives, since he returned to his heavenly home almost a year ago. Most were surprised, some even remembered picture of them being taken. Quite few invited to sit for a chai, others to sit for a meal, but everyone was happy with their picture and so was Gouri and I.
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Midday sun was at its peak. Shadows falling on the ground were short and it will take a few hours till they start to grow longer. Sitting on the steps in the shade of an old tree by the Ranisar Talab felt just right. Coolness of the lake waters, shadow from the tree and mild breeze was a pleasant refuge from the harsh midday sun. Birds and a few slow moving monkeys, on the wall and an old tree, were the only companions for a while. An old man came to take a dip in the lake. Few people came to the little temple for the midday darshan. All were quite in their thoughts and prayers, only the temple bell echoed above the lake, announcing of their visit. Such an idyllic noon.
Small campground at the edge of the city was long awake. Drums by the road indicated that traveling musicians settled here. Not for long- month or two at most, or until government officials make them move out. Then they will go to the next town… then next…
Friendly gestures inviting into their temporary homes were coming from quite few tents. Tea and chapati were offered in every house I walked in. Saying that “only a poor man’s door is always open” is perfectly true! Not having even a bare minimum and be able to share it without asking anything in return is truly amazing! It touches me every time, deep.
Temporary home. Bikaner
With every stop fewer passengers were left on the train. Sand dust was everywhere. I didn’t mind. Just like the last time! And that made me excited, with every stop getting closer to this magical city in the desert.
Rewind from two years back was going in my mind all night, since deep sleep was impossible. I had a good amount of photos I took back then and was wondering who I will find…
City was still sleeping, except Tuk-Tuk drivers that were waiting for arriving train and those very few travelers that are coming in the hot summer months. Short Tuk-Tuk ride and I was back. Back in the same guesthouse, back in the same room. It was more than gratifying! I was re-living what I was dreaming for the past two years…
It felt just good. Good to be back.
Girls in Artist Colony, Jaisalmer
It never really cooled down much that night. Room had no A/C and the only ceiling fan was circulating hot air in the room. It is impossible to sleep in that heat. A small couch just outside my room in a courtyard seemed was there for a reason. I didn’t hesitate, walked outside and lay down on it. Warm, but refreshing breeze helped. Dogs were still barking in the alleys, night sky full of stars… I was staring at them and thinking about the day that didn’t go as planned…
Taken in Jodhpur (next morning)