Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Stunning Journey Through the Desert – Adventures in Udaipur

PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: James Rosengren

Second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day. Time flows with a speed that is both exhilarating and constant as we move through our daily motions – activities that appear the same and yet throw at us new, exciting and often challenging experiences.

We have been fully initiated into our teaching schedule – school in the morning, and home in the evening. But the weekend itself proved to be a very new experience as we went on an expedition to the wilderness of the desert. 

Upon our return from our morning at the school on Friday, we began our journey in a mini-bus towards the dry sparseness of Jodhpur's Osian desert. Halfway, chai time was a well needed break to the monotony of road travel – and after stretching our legs we returned to the minibus and recommenced our journey.

Arriving in Jodhpur, we were taken to the fancy 'On The Rocks' restaurant, where we were placed at a long table under the flickering luminescent shadows of candle light. After placing our order and having some drinks Pankaj took us to their little disco floor. Some of our favourite Indian songs were blasted to the flashing lights of a disco ball – 'Saturday Saturday', a Punjabi dance song in Hindi.

The next morning, a quick breakfast followed a cold shower for us guys (the girls had used up all the hot water), and we made our way to a royal memorial and then onto another famous fort – the Mehrangarh Fort. Strolling through as our large group all entranced by the mixture of voices blaring through the audio guide headphones, we saw the fort in all it's ancient glory.

We then began stage two of our desert journey, the bus taking us out into the desert. Met by two jeeps an hour or so later, we transferred our luggage and began a bumpy, fast and exhilarating journey through the scraggly dunes towards the small house of the family that would host us for the night.

Remounting our jeeps we were taken on a small jeep safari to the main sand dunes, giving us a stunning view of the setting sun, the red rays bouncing off the orange sand in array of colour that dazzled our eyes with the simplicity of it's beauty. Nature at it's finest is revealed at the conclusion and beginning of each and every day – the sun the source of all life on this small planet in the immeasurability of the universe.

Following this we sat around the fire as music played – talking and drinking a little liqueur to keep warm in the freezing desert night (rum and wine). So some dancing around the fire, chatting to each other and fun games became the schedule of the night, and it wasn't long before we had all retired to our beds under the stars, snuggling up in sleeping bags and under blankets as we added the layers to protect against the cold that would only drop as the night continued.

As I looked up thousands of pinpricks of light stared back at me, the everlasting glow of their eternal light blasting through the layers of superficiality that surround our lives. We passed into the oblivion of unconsciousness after the raw exhaustion of the day.

The next day it was time for camel rides. Strolling along with a hip thrusting gait, the camels seemed to be a good pack of guys – tame and not too antsy. However, appearances are apparently deceptive and partway into our expedience to the dunes one decided to bolt and tip side ways, sending two volunteers tumbling down in a chaotic twisting of limbs and bodies - falling like sacks of potatoes to the hard desert floor. Landing on a mixture of body parts, they were quickly acquainted to this harsh desert floor, unsure whether they would be persuaded to leave it's relative safety.

Arriving back in Jodhpur, we saw some of the markets before lunch at the same Guest house and a quick trip to a jewellery shop for the girls. Climbing back into the bus we began the six hour road journey home.

And so it was that we returned home to our humble abode in outer Udaipur. Dinner was had, and lesson planning for the next day began as we had to map out the class structure and format of testing for our kids, so with good old carbon paper we planned accordingly.

We are having a great time, always learning new things and meeting new people. The Indian people are always very friendly and return our greetings and head bobbles as we pass.  All is well with us as we reach Wednesday night – hectic teaching followed by intense lesson planning leaving us all weary eyed and yawning as the warm and comforting encompassment of sleep draws ever near.

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