Images of Rajasthan
Back in 2008, Eileen and I managed to plan and execute a holiday together, just the two of us. We were throwing destinations around for ages, and finally decided on Rajasthan with Peregrine Adventures. I’d kicked and screamed and dragged my heels about it for a while, as at that point, the three places in the world I never wanted to visit were China, India and Singapore (being a Chinese-Indian Singaporean; long story). Eileen, being the dutiful best friend, rolled her eyes, smacked me figuratively on the back of the head in oh-fer-godssakes-get-over-it style, and we were settled. It was a holiday I could scarce afford, but I never regretted it despite having to live on instant noodles and the like for a while.
Of all the things I expected to (and did) experience – Delhi belly, culture shock, crowds, smells, noise, sights etc etc and etc – the one thing that caught me completely by surprise was the crazy sensory overloading. Day 5 of 18 saw me quietly imploding from all of the above combined at shrieking intensity. It’s been mentioned here before that I have hermit tendencies, but I hadn’t realised just how fragile my protective hermit-maintenance shield was until that point.
I got over it though, as you do, and had a wonderful time. The weird thing about being somewhat Indian-but-foreign-looking in India is that just about everyone I paused next to, was super curious as to just what I was. Ferengi is not just an alien race in Star Trek, it is also a pejorative term for “foreigner” in Hindi. I’ve never spoken to so many strangers in short order, ever. It was/is a distinctly unique experience in my quiet, unexciting life. I’ve never been more tickled, nor made to feel as welcome as I was, despite wearing cargo shorts with legs – knees and all – on display, which was somewhat inappropriate of me, a fact which took me ages to cotton on to. Idiot.
I’d go back to India in a heartbeat.
The tour group had stopped in the village (if you can call pop. 60,000 a village) of Nimaj for the night, and Ted (a group mate) went for a walk that evening. We stopped in turns to chat with some kids and take random pictures, and a bunch of townfolk came to see what we were about. They were enchanted with the digital camera and hammed it up, asking for their photos to be taken, slapping one another on the back because they all thought they looked funny in the camera’s LCD. These were two of those characters:
I never wanted a Polaroid camera like I did then, so they could keep a picture each. But pixels were all I had.
After 18 days in India being a target for street hawkers trying to sell you everything, I’d perfected the leave-me-alone mental shielding that kept them all at bay. This young man however, followed Eileen and I around Mandawa town despite the various cloaking methods I tried to employ, and the five rupees we gave him to go away. What stopped him at the end though, was me threatening to take a picture (and actually doing it), which he wasn’t happy with. I felt pretty bad afterwards, but thought nothing more of it, until coming back to my cushy first world existence and downloading the images off my cards.
I’d like to live in India, like so many other travellers were doing, from place to place for months at a time. Just soaking it in.
More pictures can be found in the galleries.