Chapter – 4
Dance in the Desert
The sound of chirping birds accompanied by clanging dishes woke me up. Though it was just 7 am, it felt like a mid-day sunshine. The breakfast spread of bread, jam, butter and fruits were already ready with cups of steaming hot tea. I stepped out of my bed on to the ice cold sand only to jump up and down as if walking on a stream of hot lava till I found my sandals and wore it. After a quick breakfast and a final roaming around on the dunes for a while to capture a mental picture, we packed our handbags at the sight of the camels approaching from afar. I was hoping that I would not get the hyper metabolic Babloo so that I need not spend the next one hour listening to a fabulous melody of chewing and snorting. I was lucky this time around and we arrived at the meeting point an hour later.
After bidding farewell to all the people in the group, we too decided to leave to Jaisalmer town even though we had booked a full day package with Real Desert Man. As we were covered from head to toe with sand and with no options to slip into a fresh set of clothes, we decided that heading to town was the most practical option. The mere thought of the dingy room gave us the jitters and all of us unanimously concluded that sleeping and peeing in the open was way better. So we booked a hotel in the town on the fly and decided to catch a few more winks. We decided to rely on Zomato this time around and we got our food delivered 2 hours later from a place that was hardly 2 kms away! We were third time lucky and the food was excellent with authentic Rajasthani dishes and the right amount of spice for an Indian palette.
Post lunch, we headed to the Real Desert Man office for our evening of entertainment – folk dance and music. During the one hour ride through the Desert National Park, we were only able to view a few scattered windmills and could not spot any animals. When we arrived at the venue it was mostly empty and we had to wait for the other tourists to return after their sunset experience. Arrangements were made around the central courtyard for all of us to view the dance and music performances around a bonfire. The folk musicians entered the arena and started playing few popular folk songs and also others which I was not familiar with. The performance was really good and the artists took the extra effort to involve the audiences in their act. Finally, the much awaited Kalbelia dancer took the stage with her customary black dress with a flared skirt and lot of traditional jewelry. Kalbelia is a sensual dance form which is practiced by the Kalbelia tribe. Their traditional occupation is catching snakes and trading snake venom. Hence, the dance movements and the costumes of their community bear a resemblance to that of the serpents.The dancer started dancing around the lit bonfire as the musicians played a highly energetic tune. Initially the dancer seemed a little lukewarm with her efforts, but soon she was mesmerizing the audience with her steps. She showed her proficiency by picking up coins with her eyelids and pot dancing with feet resting on glasses. Overall, the dance show was enthralling and left us amazed.
We had a quick dinner after the dance performance as we had to catch the night train from Jaisalmer. The ride back to the city was in pitch darkness through with the Desert National Park. As we approached the town, we could see the lighted up Jaisalmer Fort towering over the entire town. It was a sight to behold! We were dropped back at Jaisalmer railway station for our train to Jodhpur. We only had time for a 3 hour shopping spree at Jodhpur before boarding our return flight to Bangalore. We roamed about in Sardar market and GhantaGhar for a while before focusing on Naisarak area. Naisarak is adjacent to Sardar Market but is mostly filled with relatively newer shops that was a far cry from the older shops of GhantaGhar, but did not belong to the swanky shopping areas of new Jodhpur. We shopped around for Jutti Mojari, ornaments and show pieces. We wrapped up our shopping session in a hurry to have one last taste of Rajasthani cuisine from Gypsy the Restaurant.
Before we knew it, we were back in Bangalore with our heart full of memories, bags full of knick-knacks and my husband waiting to pick us up with a beaming smile at the airport.
Here is a video of Kalbelia Dancers : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSDEE7pb3qY
Things not to miss in Jodhpur:
- Mehrangarh Fort
- Shopping streets – GhantaGhar, Sardar Market
- Restaurant – Gypsy Restaurent
Things not to miss in Jaisalmer:
- Desert Safari and Camel Ride
- Kalbelia Dance
Find the previous chapter here