This is my darling friend Hema. Hema will be my co-author on the Indian jewelry book. We went over to her house in Delhi on Sunday for brunch. it was a traditional Rajasthani meal that her mother made for us, because her family is from the desert area on the border of Pakistan. It was delicious! We are so lucky that we got to have a real home cooked Indian meal. It was super fun to see Hema's beautiful home...she has recently redecorated it, and she has fabulous taste! She lives there with her brother, a dentist, and her father (general medicine doctor) and her mother. It was beautiful, and her family was lovely.
Yesterday we walked around the fort here in Jaisalmer, bought a couple of t-shirts and some weird decorated goat skull & a ganesh (elephant god). We had lunch up on the roof of our hotel…a most delicious Rajasthani Thali (meal with several small dishes). I must say that I ate the best Chapati (round flat bread) I have had yet. Soft and tasty, warm….mmmmm!
Walker has found a small stuffed horse that is supposed to be decoration at the rooftop restaurant, but he is riding it around while we eat. The owner and his guys all live here at the hotel, and they are SO nice. The nicest hotel folks yet. I really do feel like I am “at home” here, and they do not get all in our business or anything. But I can walk up to the restaurant in my PJ’s without feeling like they are ogling my breasts. (Not that they are really showing or anything, but sometimes these Indian guys are so lewd!)
We went camel riding yesterday and it was a great experience. We took a jeep along with a couple from Canada out to the desert and stopped sevral times along the way for sightseeing. One time at a village hut, then at a spot where there were some fossils, then at a watering hole for the village.
Then we arrived at the camel spot, climbed on and went on our way! Walker liked it at 1st, then started saying he hated camels. He renamed our camel ”Mister Darth Vader” but his real name was Mula. Mula kept eating the bushes so I had to keep kicking his sides. Walker complained and complained, then when we got off someone asked him how he liked his camel ride and he said “Pretty good!” I swear he is such a rascal!
He played around in the sand dunes, we drank a beer, then got back in the jeep for a very fast and BUMPY ride back to the hotel. It was nice to snuggle with him on the camel, and also have him ride in m lap so I could hug him all the way home. He is very good at being warm and snuggly, and I truly love that about him. I feel so lucky that we are having so many of these great snuggling opportunities on our trip.
One thing I haven’t really discussed yet is money. One thing that is wearing about traveling is always having to spend cash. At home, we spend lots of money, but ususally not cash. And usually not all day long. We pay for our various utilities and food only once a month or once a week. While traveling you pay out cash ALL DAY LONG and it gets exhausting. In addition, when you are spending 10 rupees here and 500 rupees there, you feel like you are spending a ton of money. We have to remind ourselves that 10 rupees is only 20 cents! 500 rupees is only 10 dollars! But again, people are always asking for money, we spend money on water, on food, on transportation, everything we do costs money. The good thing is that things here cost a lot less money than they do at home. Our hotel in Jaisalmer costs Rs 650. This is 13 US dollars.
A few more things about Indian money: If a bill is old and wrinkled or has a hole in it, no one will take it. They will give you an old bill, but certainly won’t take one! The other thing is that Indians hate to give out change. They will say they don’t have change, but really they do. This could be for several reasons: they want you to spend more money with them…or they just don’t want large bills. I wonder if there is a country-wide shortage of smaller bills or what! It is very frustrating. Also…don’t buy anything at the 1st of the day, because they are sure to not have any change then.
Beggars: We have seen so many beggars, of course. Our policy is to give money when we feel like it. I do think we have seen less begging this time than I have seen in the past. And the people we see begging look terrible. All kinds of deformations and whatnot. It makes you wonder what their life has been like, what happened to their parents, where they sleep…When you think about giving them 10 rupees, you feel you must give, as it is only 20 cents. We will be donating to an organization in South India that helps rescue women from sexual slavery and teaches them skills to start a life of their own. But we also will be giving money to beggars when we feel like it. It is not our job to fix the poverty problem here in India, but we can give out a banana or some change.
Tonight we leave for a 3 hour train ride to Jodhpur, the blue city. More on that later.