What first came to your mind when you read the title? A western traveler wearing a turban on his head dancing to folk music with the villagers? Or a group of tourists enjoying the classical ‘tuntuna’ played by a local, outside a kick ass fort? Yeah, that does sound like Rajasthan to a great extent. But I want to take you on a tour of a different Rajasthan altogether. I want you to know that there is much more to Rajasthan than just forts, palaces and villages. I want you to see this stunning place through my eyes and my camera lenses.
DAY 1 : When most of the people around me chose to celebrate their New Year’s Eve with even more people around them, I chose to be surrounded by deer and boars; at the heart of a freezing desert and under a sky full of stars. When the majority of the world was opening a bottle of champagne at 12 am, I was chasing wild animals in the back of a cruising jeep. Yes, you’re right. That’s Jaisalmer. During the day time, Jaisalmer is as one would expect it to be. Sand dunes, camels, tents and a lot of heat. But as the sun set, except for the dunes, the world out there for me changed.
I did not stay in the tents, for I picked a rather cheaper and exciting option: to sleep in the middle of a desert on a mattress. The camels were gone and probably resting and the eyes of the deer started to twinkle under the moonlight. I am pretty sure that when it was 12 am, I was in a jeep chasing deer. We had planned to unwind our watches to a random time and stop it there, for we wanted our 2017 to start whenever we wanted to, whenever we felt it was the perfect moment to shout “HAPPY NEW YEAR”. Coming back to chasing animals, our jeep driver suddenly stopped and all the deer ran out of our sight. When we were about to abuse him for ending such an amazing chase so abruptly, he pointed out to the ugliest yet the stunning most bird ever. It was an owl sitting right ahead of our jeep with its back facing us. We looked in anticipation and the freakishly amazing yet the scariest thing happened. The owl turned its head 180 degrees. THAT, for me, was when the clock struck 12.
The night safari ended after a good 40-45 minutes and we settled in the desert far away from population. The cold had reached our bones and we did what most of us would do in such freezing situations. We lit a fire. (That’s what you would do, too, right? 😛 ). We gathered some woods, dry cow dung, used some oil and burnt the freaking shit (Quite literally). There were three others with me celebrating their New Year’s Eve the serene way. We played some Kishore Kumar hits, some melodious shayaris, wondered what we all be doing had we been in Mumbai at that moment. Then, reality struck. This time for good 😉
Time flies. But when you’re with your set of people and no one around you, watching the beautiful night sky, time stops. It stops for you to record that moment. To lock that memory in the part of our brain where no one can reach. Now, the clock struck 4 and so did the temperature. The fire was out and we had no option left but to get into our blankets. As we covered ourselves from head to toe with the thickest of blankets, a friend shouted, “Pop your head out of the fucking blanket”. And boy! What did we see? The stars spread out like salt sprinkled on a black pan. Now that the only light which was restricting the view was also out, the stars seemed brighter and closer. For the next 30 minutes, I just kept staring at the sky. You know that’s the thing about starry nights. Even if you have seen 10 such starry skies earlier, the 11th one will still end up surprising you.
I cannot even begin to describe that moment. It is the same moment when you finally get the thing you desire the most. It’s the same feeling you have when you throw that graduation hat into the air. It’s the exact same feeling a kid has when he pulls a “Sachin” card out of a pack of chips. It’s a mixture of bliss and satisfaction. That was the moment when I knew that this trip is not going to be like one of those regular vacations. And damn! It was just the first day 😉
(Day 2.. Coming Soon)