In spite of my efforts to “blend,” I continue to be the object of endless, unabashed ogling. Men, women and children burn holes in me with their eyes. I’m not sure which is worse: getting used to it, or not getting used to it…
In Rajasthan, an elaborate and unique moustache is a sign of happiness and prosperity, and if the tips point upwards, then one is said to be closer to God. Or something like that. While in the cities I have been almost every day told that I look like a WWE wrestler called The Undertaker, in Rajasthan I was more often complimented on my facial hair…
Rajasthan, a place that, until 48 hours before we left, was just another of those far-flung duck-and-cover “sthans” I had never bothered to learn the difference between.
The more we researched, the more excited we were about going. The state of Rajasthan shares its western borders with Pakistan, which made getting to our final destination of Jaisalmer tricky: the local airport had been closed because of the recent “troubles,” dubbed by the Indian media as “26/11.” We decided to drive and spend 2 nights in Jodhpur, for which the distinctive loose-top, tight ankled, riding trousers are named, before moving along to Jaisalmer, the storybook desert city-fortress carved out of sandstone, for an overnight camel trek.
During the extended dance-mix car ride we took turns watching out the window as our driver wove in and out of on coming traffic like he was playing a video game; eventually we pretended to sleep curled up in the back of the hatchback like Labradors.
In Jaisalmer, we booked a luxury tent that has effectively ruined Burning Man for me, at the Ajit Bhawan Palace, which was once home to the royal family of Jodhpur. The palace, like many in India, was turned into a “heritage hotel” after falling into disrepair following Indian Independence, when the new government stopped paying the figureheads across the country just for being fabulous.