So cold at night I have to wear my Jimjams

Trip Start Sep 14, 2011
Trip End Aug 03, 2012

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Where I stayed
Calcutta Guest House

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The last 7 days have been odd.  Brilliant odd like only you can get in India.  Again at times I wanted to go home so badly or just needed a friend.  Other times I
have swooned with awe and wonder and swelled with the joy of it all and sharing
amazing times with amazing people and being here kicks me hard, daily.

Again I have experienced far too much to write it all done and
do it justice.  Bullet points, the friend of the lazy writer…well not lazy actually I’m just way to chilled out for once to bother to sting it all together. Forgive me.

King of my Castle:

Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort was built in the mid-11th
century and I’ve been kicking around this town not sure if any of its real because
it looks like every Indiana Jones film set combined with hint of  Italy, a very rough and tired and dirty Italy
that has no pasta or in fact any food really at all – but everyone is eating all
the time…I can’t work it out.  It’s the end
of the train line and as far north as you can head easily to in Rajasthan.  To my west, about 60 km away is Pakistan and
to my east is dust and rocks oh, and a fuck of massive Indian Air force base in
case the neighbours get mardy.  The labyrinth
of sandstone towers and temples cascade down the hill side like lego bricks on
the carpet – sharp angles and secret windows in all the wrong places.  There are over 5000 people living in the fort
and it times it feels like a million or at other times just me and the cows depending
on the time of the day and the violence of the sand storms and sun.  The windows hold lattice stone work and no
glass so every surface has a layer of sand on it which means everything looks
like it’s been neglected or ignored. 
Every home has a roof top that becomes home at night during the height
of summer and a small court yard painted jade green, bright pink and purple and
blue which is right next to the kitchen that is the heart of the home where
they can shelter from the weather, eat, share and live.   The water is turned on for 20 minutes each
morning and the town goes quiet while tanks are checked, the same things also
happens when Rajasthan are playing in the IPL, which appears to be every day,
the streets are deserted.   The place is a tourist trap from December till
March with groups trekking out on camels 24/7. 
I am here very much off season and every hotel is shut, all the restaurants
have sent the chefs back to Nepal so there is one place you can get food and a
shop that sells gone off cheese crackers, I and a few other tourists I see from
time to time are the only outsiders here. 
 It suits me down to the ground.  Bored waiters and guides chat ideally with me
and my local book shop know me well as I have been rapidly going through their
limited stock. So well in fact I have been home for lunch with mum...who I love. 

I have a corner room with baby pink walls which is the
traditional colour of hospitality, a low sturdy wooden bed frame with a
traditional mattress of dense hessian.  It’s
the kind of bed people who don’t like comfort say is good for you.  A thousand different rugs cover the floor and
a little bathroom with the smallest aqua marine sink that has a door with
delicate handle that says ‘welcome’ on it. 
Light falls in from all angles paining everything gold and below in the
street I have the contestant sounds of people getting on with daily life.  The temples broad cast prayers, people ring
the bells to wake the gods I their homes, the motor bikes whizz by and the kids
are always playing cricket – I means always…and they won’t let me join in even when
I begged as it’s is not a game – it’s a way of life.  My favourite sound of them all is late at
night while I lay out by my open window under my net and after the dust storms
have pasted you can hear the gentle jingle of the bells on the women’s feet as
the walk the alleyways with their friends chattering like birds wrapped up in
orange, green and red silks.  I am the only
guest in my guest house it’s me my books and Mr & Mrs Kamal.



Turn your lamp down low:

Electricity and water don’t mix.  I have always been taught this and it’s a fact
– the two together are not healthy.  Here
in Jaisalmer they have taken this to a whole new level.  At nights I sit on the rickety table on the
highest terrace of the house with Kamal and we watch the weather roll by and
the trucks driving to and from the boarder. 
On maybe my second night the horizon began to disappear bit by bit.  I thought the sand storm had gathered momentum
but Kamal just spat out a wet and stinky mouth full of tobacco and turning to
me with a massive black toothed grin informed me “that’s it – too much weather means
no power”.   At that very moment the whole fort plummeted
into darkness and all the cables sparked. 
You could make out the odd reflection of light on the underside of the
birds and bats wings that darted above us and you had flashes of light as the
brooding clouds hung heavy with lighting rumbled over-head and you could see
the beams of lights from the motor bikes carving up the darkness as they
rattled down the lanes beneath us.  We
sat there for about an hour occasionally talking under the bright desert stars.  The wind and rain had pasted and as the last
drops fell and the wind dropped to a breeze as huge cheer roared out from the
children on the streets below.  The
lights hissed back on and shouts could be heard in celebration across the
desert and then as quickly as the cheer rolled out a huge ‘ohhh’ followed as
the guy with the big switch changed his mind and turned it all off again. It
sounded   like a panto audience booing the baddy.  Here in town if it rains no power, if it’s
dusty no power and if the guy with the big button wants to push it, no power.  It is a tinder box and they don’t want it to
go up in flames. Every night I sit out on that roof waiting to watch the whole
word around me turn to black night.


Soul food.

I have been invited into the heart of the home. I eat with the
family in the kitchen.  At 12:30 every
day I pad down from my reading bubble or in from the market to the court
yard.  I drift down on the smells that
waft up from Mrs . Kamal’s cooking.  Me
and Mr Kamal share a love of her cooking and she has told me each morning he
wakes up and the first thing he asks here is what is for lunch, he has been doing
that for the whole 22 years of their marriage. 
As town is a ghost town now I have my one meal a day with the family and
it’s a highlight.  The courtyard is a
cramped 2m x 3m with the pinkest walls and shiniest cleanest black marble floor
that is so cold on my skin when I sit down. We are watched over by a sky blue
baby Krishna and Mrs Kamal dances from gas ring to roti stone to water jug and
every day she places in front of me a magical taste sensation and like a true
feeder a mountain of ghee, bringal, rice, okra, homemade mango pickle,
chapatti,  5 spice dal and smiles.  Our right hands moving so fast they are a blur
and all my clothes covered in a happy food filth.  They smile and nod as after every meal I
spend a good five minutes picking up the fallout from around me off the floor.  In South East Asia I was unable to dig in due
to the fish issue.  Here I have carte
blanch to devour it all and I am trying my very best.Tonight I take a train and for my tea she is wrapping up my favourite things in a tiffin tin so I can have a good sleep.  She watches as I eat with apatite and she smiles and pats her tummy. " Good to see you eat - leave India fatter"....

Cross my palm with silver: 
 This country and mainly this region of the country is famous
for its astrology and palm reading.  It’s
almost as popular as cricket.  If you can’t
marry a daughter off you see the astrologer, she tells you to wear 3 rings on 3
different fingers, pray to Shiva, pray still harder and when the stars are
right, she will marry.  If the sink is
blocked a reader can tell you if it is just the sink or the universe that has caused
the blockage.  I joke but it does
fascinate me…so I got my palm read.  Well
I never.  I am a cynic when I want to be
and I don’t know how much he knew of me already as these people love to gossip
and I am the only white chick in the zone, and whether he could even be bothered
as he kept checking his phone for texts so he probably waffles out the same
shit daily.  But it was interesting and
if it’s true I can relax.   I will hit the happy life jackpot when I turn
34.  My last 3 years have been hard
because my ruling planet has been distant and no, he didn’t say you are having
problems with Uranus, which at the time would have been more accurate.  I have experienced difficulties more than most
so I am caged.  Bobbins.  Difficulties over the last few years? Does global
economic crisis ring any bells, who hasn’t had it tough?   Until that
is we hit June 28th 2012 when Saturn falls into my correct alignment.  From June 28th I will gradually
free flow and bob into a happy and long life with one health problem at some
point, for which I will have support. 
Work wise I will be working alongside a government affiliated organisation
(vague) and I will not work with my hands but with my mind (this could cause a
few problems).  I will receive luxury and
comfort (can’t come soon enough – I want clean feet and a good coffee so bad).  I am bold and a little over confident which means
I will be on my own till I’m 34 (ouch!) and he will be from my country which is
a shame as I wanted a French one.  My
whole life told in 2 minutes by a guy with the world’s scariest finger nails
that I couldn’t stop staring at.  He may
have said I’d die in a week – I wasn’t really listening but he defiantly said
he wouldn’t be French so I gave up listening.

Childs play:

My favourite game to play in my head while out and about walking
is called “Dead or Dreaming”.  It can be
played with all things lying at the side of the road pigs, cows, dogs and
people.  I think it’s about a 30/70 to
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Xav on

Awesome. I'll find a French man for you, don't you worry my dear. x

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