This was my home for 24 hours when I visited this small, isolated village in the Thar desert. To call it a village is probably too big a word, it is a simple home which has 4 small huts for visitors, this is Pabu ki Dhani. Pabu welcomed us into his home so we could experience a little piece of the Rajasthani desert. Unlike other desert treks near Jaisalmer (I went on another with my father over 10 years ago), there are no other tourists in sight, this is a true rural experience. There is no running water, no electricity and no glamourous permanent tents. This is real life.
These young girls were not at school even though it was a weekday, the privilege of education that is something afforded only for the boys in this village. Sadly when we asked their age none of them could tell us because they didn’t know. This was just an afternoon for us, but for them this isolated village is their life. My heart sank as I saw the squalid conditions in which they lived. Rajasthan is one of the least educated states in India and also one where poverty is more marked.
I have written before (here and here) about how helpless I feel when seeing poverty here, I now don’t even think I can verbalise how I felt after meeting these young girls.
As we drove from village to village, the long empty roads of the desert stretched before us.
The landscape is eerie but spectacular. It seems incomprehensible to me that people have survived in this inhospitable environment for hundreds of years. It is certainly easier nowadays with jeeps and mobile phones, but even in this modern age one cannot escape the harshness of the desert.
Of course as a guest in someone’s home I was spared the harsh reality of desert life. Instead I was treated to fabulous home cooked food and had comfortable shelter.
Being a tourist I couldn’t resist the obligatory camel ride in the desert. I recall the last time I was in Jaisalmer I took a camel ride with my father, at the end of which he declared that it was unlikely he would travel with me again (camels didn’t agree with him ). Despite this memory I decided to give this odd looking beast one more chance.
Thankfully she was kind to me.
She took me through the sand dunes that seemed to stretch on for hours.
As evening approached we settled on the verandah and listened to some local men sing folk songs around the fire. Looking up at the stars, I closed my eyes and just listened to the serenity. This really must be the most peaceful place in India.
The author blogs at aussiegirlinIndia.com and tweets @aussiegirlindia.
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