The Search for a Desert Village

Jasailmer fort

We just completed a long and sweaty train ride and arrived in Jaisalmer, a beautiful World Heritage town, crowned by an ancient fort, lying at the heart of the Thar desert (the Great Indian Desert) in Rajasthan, India.

Jaisalmer is also known as “The Golden City” since many houses and temples of the fort and the city below are built of finely sculptured yellowish sandstone.

We came here for a reason and that is to live for some time with a local tribe in the Thar desert, to really understand and feel the difficulties they are facing day in and day out by living deep in the desert.

It is night and so many people are approaching us, telling us to stay at their hotel. Tired and exhausted, we just choose one, get into the auto-rickshaw, enjoy the refreshing breeze and end up at a hotel outside the fort.

The next morning we actually change our hotel room and go to live in a guesthouse inside the fort, whose owner’s name is Mr. Pa. After exploring the fort for a while, we hire a motorbike and travel around the surrounding area to find a village where we can do our little project. Little did we know that it would be way more complicated than we thought it would be.

Just after leaving the city, around 20 minutes drive, there is a straight flat road ahead of us and to our right and left we see the endless desert. It must be around 40 C° and the sun is blazing hot. Desperate for a drink, we stop at a small stall and buy a refreshing cold water bottle as well as some cookies for the stray dogs which look at us with big lovely eyes. We want to ask the shopkeeper if he can suggest a village, but regardless of the fact that Hindi is the national language in India not everyone speaks it, so it is a little difficult to communicate.

After a 5 minute drive, we see that there is a small path on our right leading to a village. We take a chance and drive along it. The people see us coming and immediately run towards us. There are about 5-6 children from different age groups and one woman. The kids are very excited, surrounding our bike and jumping up and down. Initially, the situation is very happy but it changes fast – they ask for my silver rings and try to snatch them off my fingers. We begin to feel a little uncomfortable and, since anyway we can’t communicate with them, we decide to leave. As soon as we drive off though, their dog starts to  get very angry and, although one child is holding him back tightly, he manages to break free and starts to chase us like crazy. Even though I love dogs, I start to get scared because he really seems out of control. So we just accelerate the bike as much as we can and somehow manage to escape. Back on the main road, the first thing I do is take off my jewellery and then our search continues.

Videobild_The Search for a Desert Village

We drive straight as far as the road takes us and after some time we see another village. In front of it, we see some goats and camels eating. I take off my camera and take some pictures as it looks very beautiful. Then with high hopes, we enter that village but it seems very deserted; nobody is around.

Suddenly we see a woman who starts screaming something and, before we can even blink, she picks up a stone and throws it towards us. My first thought is: “Luckily we are wearing helmets and let’s get out of here, NOW.” We leave immediately and return to the main road but I couldn’t understand why she threw stones at us. Was it because we had a camera and they don’t want to be filmed? Well now, after this second attempt, we are feeling a little discouraged, I mean who wouldn’t be, right? But still, we don’t want to give up since we feel that there is something out there for us.

This time we drive for quite some time and are now really deep inside the desert. To our right again, we see a village and, when we enter, the people approach us immediately. A man tells us that this is a sensitive area as the road leads to the border of Pakistan and he asks us where we are heading. Suddenly more people come and begin to talk very loudly in a different language. Their tone is somewhat harsh and their body language suggests that they are certainly not very happy with our presence. Because the whole situation simply doesn’t feel good, and before being totally surrounded by people and stuck there, we leave. As we drive off, this time really feeling a little disappointed and hopeless, we return to Jaisalmer, to our guesthouse, while witnessing the most scenic and red setting sun behind us.

Sunset

To be continued …

Credits

Image Title Author License
Videobild_The Search for a Desert Village Videobild_The Search for a Desert Village Idealism Prevails CC BY 4.0
Long and tiring train ride Long and tiring train ride Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Morning time in Jasailmer Morning time in Jasailmer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Bats at the entrance of the fort Bats at the entrance of the fort Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Child street perfomer Child street perfomer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Children street performance Children street performance Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Jane Temple 2 Jane Temple 2 Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Local market in Jasailmer Local market in Jasailmer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Morning time in Jasaimer 2 Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Musician playing the Kamaicha, a traditional string based instrument from Rajasthan Musician playing the Kamaicha, a traditional string based instrument from Rajasthan Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Musician playing the Ravanatthi instrument from Rajasthan Musician playing the Ravanatthi instrument from Rajasthan Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
No NEED for VIAGRA magic bed sheet No NEED for VIAGRA magic bed sheet Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Strolling around Jasailmer Strolling around Jasailmer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Women selling jewellery at local market, Jasailmer Women selling jewellery at local market, Jasailmer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Jain Temple Jasailmer Jain Temple Jasailmer Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Sunset Sunset Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Jasailmer fort Jasailmer fort Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0
The Golden City, Jasailmer Fort The Golden City, Jasailmer Fort Isabel Scharrer CC BY-SA 4.0