Good Day SunshineDelhi, Spring 2009
The sunrise was hidden, oranges and pinks obscured behind streaks of gray clouds. I sat, legs crossed, knees folded, a mug of chai clasped in two hands. The only sounds the gentle ringing of bells as a heard of goats traipsed by, the grunts and snorts of our camels, our quiet breaths cooling the chai.
I was in Jaisalamer, sitting atop a sand dune at sunrise. Our first big trip alone, without the shepherding of IES. Go big or go home, so we hopped on a train for nineteen hours. The commuter train, packed full with people headed home to their small towns and villages after a long week fixing engines, driving rickshaws and making rotis. The men trickled out and we unfolded the benches, laid down for a night of cold sleep, jostled back and forth by the train.
(I woke up in the middle of the night. The man across the aisle had bought tickets for two berths – one for him, and one for the stack of lawn chairs he must have been selling that day.)
Nineteen hours later and we were in Jaisalmer. Located in the Thar Desert, only a hundred kilometers or so from the border with Pakistan (something I made sure not to tell my mom before I left). We hopped off the train and onto some camels. Camel trekking is the main tourist attraction in the area – that, and the gorgeous yellow fortress that dominates the landscape.
We rode, a caravan of awkward whities, across the barren landscape, followed closely by our guides and trailed by a group of children. The gait of a camel is awkward and uneven, which is the same as my usual stride so I really enjoyed it. Me and my camel Kaloo really had a connection – I let him stop to eat things, and he didn’t spit on me.
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