Rajasthan Part I: Jodhpur

Friday, Sept 17th

The golden Fort, Jaisalmer, Western Rajasthan

I can hardly fathom that I left for the airport a week ago; it seems like ages. But a week ago I started my last foray into the vastness of India, at leas for now. And it’s crazy thinking that, with this train’s departure, I am beginning my journey back to the United States. It will take me from Jaisalmer – the edge of the Thar Desert – through Jodhpur and Ahmedabad before my flight leaves the ground late Sunday night from Mumbai. With the tires final touch of the tarmac my great Indian adventure will effectively end for the foreseeable future.

It has been a crazy ride. One year and three months before I stumbled off my flight from Chicago only expecting the unexpected. My plans stopped at the Hyderabad airport. I wanted to work internationally. I wanted to travel. I did not want to be in Indiana (note: commonly confused with India). But to me India has been many things: A great love, a great wonder, and a great frustration are among them. I experienced many things: great friendship, journeys, sicknesses, hunger, joy and depression. I found love, but might have lost something I’ve known to be true for 25 years. In the land where everyone is spiritual, India has left me with lots of questions. But I finally found a focus.

I decided to spend my last week in India traveling to one of the many areas I had not yet been. I picked Rajasthan because of the unique landscape and the distinctive people. I wanted this to be a trip solely about photography. I feel like I have failed to really capture my experience in India with my camera. There is always more.

But there is always next time. I may return someday: India seems to have that effect on people.

Saturday, September 11
In a mix-up of planning I end up taking an overnight bus from Ahmedabad to Jodhpur instead of a train. In India you can expect one thing: the road will be bad. You will not sleep on a bus.

Sunday, September 12
Jodhphur, Rajasthan
A rickshaw drops me off at the clock tower, a central market of sorts in Jodhpur, and I wander off in the shadow of the immense fortress to find a guesthouse among the blue colored buildings along the ancient streets.
“Come to my guesthouse. Very good. Cheap.”
“My hotel is highly recommended by the Lonely Planet”
“I have great views of the fort,”
men call out to me as I walk past in the early morning light. I enter Anil’s Sunrise Hotel and take a small, bare room. And with breakfast in my stomach I pass out for several hours making up for the sleep lost on the bus.

Jodhpur is a magical city where your imagination can run wild. You can almost put yourself back to the time when the fort was not just a tourist attraction, but defended against attacks from foreign invaders.

[[[Side Note]]] People that snore should not be allowed to sleep, at least not in a public setting. They should either be arrested for public disturbance or rough up enough by the annoyed bystanders that they wouldn’t dare utter another snore.[[[]]]

Jodhpur is called the Blue City because many of the buildings are painted blue, apparently to keep out the heat?

More Stories & Photos After the Break! Don’t Stop Here! —->

The maze of streets forces me to try several different routes before I actually reach the base of the huge fort that towers proudly over the city. I stop for something to eat, and waiting something like two hours for food storm clouds roll in, sticking around for the rest of my time in the city. Sadly, I didn’t get to explore the fort.

I meet a man outside my hotel that tells me he has a guest house in Jaisalmer called Rajdhani Hotel with ensuite rooms for only 100rs. My instinct is not to trust him. I feel my instinctual judgments of people are generally very accurate, a skill you have to develop as a traveler, but the price is right. He says I’ll be picked up at the train station in the morning and taken to the guesthouse. If I don’t like it, then no worries, I can go somewhere else. At the Jodhpur train station the man has corralled a group of foreigners, pulling them in with the same promise of cheap rooms at the Rajdhani Hotel.

For some reason there were thousands of people sleeping at the Jodhpur train station. I’ve never really seen anything like it. I mean trains stations are usually crowded, but not like this.

Tuesday, September 14
At 5:45am we stumble off the train. A man holding a sign for the Rajdhani Hotel directs us into a jeep. The four Brits get situated in their rooms and I am told to wait. They finally show me my room, a storage area on the roof full of spare bedding and workers’ clothes with a mattress thrown on the floor. They say it’s only temporary while they clean my room. “Wait an hour.” “Just five minutes” “Only Ten minutes more” “Sorry, can you just stay in this room?”

The door doesn’t properly shut and I find workers hanging out in the room, much to my frustration. I loudly object. After repeated requests I am finally brought a lock, but at night the door cannot be secured from the inside.

I’m pretty sure my girlfriend is already beautiful and this would definitely not improve her looks or style

The Golden City with wind turbines on the horizon

The Golden Fort, overlooking Jaisalmer, the Golden City

The ever-present cricket match.

I love seeing this, the mix of the ancient and the future.

The Golden Fort. Click on this photo to see large (You need to see this larger).

I spend the afternoon with the Brits exploring the impressive Golden Fort that overlooks the small city. They invite me to go with them for the next two days on a camel safari into the desert, but after thinking about it, I don’t want to schedule my last two travel days with just one thing. I decide to go off by myself into the small, outlying villages to see what I can find.

Don’t Stop Here! There’s much more to the story! Keep reading and looking through the photos. Click to Continue with Part II: The Read Adventure Begins!