What’s it been like being me for the last 7 days?
1. This week has all been about exploring Rajasthan. They say: “A northern Indian state bordering Pakistan. Its palaces and forts are reminders of the many kingdoms that historically vied for the region.” We say it’s the land of Kings, colour, and one of the most stunning states I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. A new music style, new foods, a different kind of people, the palaces and the forts, the madness and the heritage all combine to make a heady mix that continues to surprise and delight.
2. All aboard the Ajmer Express, we leave Jaipur and head east destined for Pushkar. All of us still slightly stained with hints of the Holi rainbow on our skin, hair and anecdotes, we embark and sharpen our elbows to battle our way on to the General Seating carriage (read: sitting on luggage racks and perching on edges).
As that familiar sound and rocking motion of the clickety clack clickety clack clickety clack sets in I can’t help but be rocked into snooze mode. As my head is gently rocked from side to side I ruminate that this is where the idiosyncratic Indian head wobble originated from, or at the very least this is the best platform to practice it.
3. Pushkar, or KarPush as it’s become affectionately mis-coined by my Yankee Doodle Dandy Hannah, is a welcomed change of pace from Jaipur. Higgledy piggledy streets, cafes and treasure trove shops hidden above steep stairs and behind secret doorways, one could very easily lose themselves, their minds and their shopping budgets in Pushkar, how wonderful. A place of evening madness, falafel, frolicking monkeys, cruising cows, sunsets from Temple tops and over sacred lakes, it’s the kind of place where you just want to say Yes.
4. Peak Decisions: Spending quality time with Clay and Naomi (off’ve India circuit 2016), I feel so lucky to get the rare chance to reconnect with those good eggs twice in my adventure. Talk turns to conquering Everest Base Camp in Nepal – a once in a lifetime opportunity and 17k ft – a decision that demands a healthy respect before undertaking it.
As Winston Churchill once said: “we must not lose our faculty to dare“, so I say Yes! and book my flight to Kathmandu. Team Everest Base Camp is confirmed for April 2nd: Clay, Naomi, Jess, Hannah and a delightfully exciting surprise last minute entry, Natalie!!! from Kranti Yoga (and Stockport, c/o Singapore, Perth, the World).
5. We take a local bus from Pushkar to Jodphur as the Rajasthan adventure continues. The landscape getting more and more sparse and distinctly more desert’y as we head even further east. A bone rattling 5 hours later we arrive in the Blue City, and an instant feeling of calm descends. Our hostel, HostelLaVie, is an astonishingly cheap 450 roops per night given we’re situated in the heart of the ancient city, with the Mehrangarh Fort towering over us from our stunning rooftop view. Oh Rajasthan, you’ve done it again.
6. Food glorious food!: with new Rajasthani dishes on the menu and eager appetites, we excitedly sample the delights of dishes like Ker Sangri, a dish made from ker berries and sangri beans from the desert, and Gatte Curry made with dumplings. The tantalisingly novel flavours inspire us to take a home schooled Indian cooking course, Cooking with Aastha, helpfully arranged by our friend Vicky from Ravlas. 4 hours of learning to make the perfect masala chai, malai paneer, okra and potatoes, gatte curry, chapati, paratha and lassi for 6 people with our wonderful Indian Didi, Aastha, cooked modestly and effortlessly with minimal utensils, mess or wastage – a far cry from the bomb that usually goes off in our kitchens amidst several gadgets/brand names. Both humbling and educational, we sit to eat the fruits of our labours, where else but on a double bed! cross legged with the children and Grandma staring on.
7. Bordering Pakistan: heading further east we arrive in Jaisalmer, the golden city, and I find myself once again near the border with Pakistan (the last time being in Kashmir 12 months hence). Jaisalmer is an instant hit, with its Golden city, Turbans, and the promise of camels and desert safaris. We tour the Jaisalmer Fort as the sun sets, a much more alive space than previous forts we’ve visited, home to families, restaurants, cafes and Wallahs of all kinds. We spend time slowly and intuitively treading it’s windy, bustling narrow streets, taking chai and talking shop, dodging motorbikes, letting the wind blow us whichever way she chooses, and celebrating beautiful friendships from her rooftops.
Writing this from the window seat of HostelLaVie Jaisalmer, with an hour to go until we leave for our overnight Desert Safari, camels, and a night under the stars, sending lots of love, light and hugs to my Dearest most incredible Ma on Mothers Day. If Rajasthan has showed us anything thus far, this promises to be a night of wonders where anything is possible (but not always available).