Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jaisalmer:Practicing Patience and Positivity

So we headed out to the desert early in the morning and were accompanied by another glorious Indian sunrise.

We went by Jeep and it was quite the ride. It reminded me of the Indiana Jones Ride at Disneyland, the driving was quite similar.

We met our guide, "Tiger" and it turns out the 3 other people that were promised to be on the tour with me and Sara were a lie to get us to book the safari, just like everything in India.
"What are the camel's names?"
"This one is Johnny, That one is Victor, and this one is Mr.Magoo"
"Mr. Magoo?!? Can I have Mr. Magoo!!"
I call my Dad Ma'Gee and he always says in response to that,
"Thats Magoo to you!"

So as you can imagine, I was a bit excited to hear that one was named Mr. Magoo and even more stoked that he was my camel for the trip. Then we saddled up, and we were off. Each day consisted of about 4 hours on the camel. We were off around 8 in the morning. took long lunch breaks and were at the campsites around 4. Along the way, we stopped at many villages along the way to see their way of life and get swarmed by the villages kids screaming, "Photo! Photo!!!!" They gave the largest and happiest smiles I have ever seen. Its like you are a celebrity coming to their village. Each time we ate, Tiger would make the food from scratch. Before the food was made he had to make Chai.
"No Chai, no power!" he would say. Or he would also say,
"Chai give you power for many hour"
Sara and I would ask him a million questions while he was cooking.
"Whats this?" "Whats that?" "First you cook what?" "Then you add what?" and so on. I came to the conclusion that I am either going to mail me Chai ingredients or pack it in my bag when I leave. I want to buy, like no joke 20 bags of the tea so I can make it for everyone when I come home.

Our main attraction for the day was the Sand Dunes. We were also promised no other tourists in this spot, and there were atleast 6 other groups. It was very quite in the desert after all the small talk was spoken. Whenever Tiger would talk it would be about 3 things which made me see his true intentions. 1. His poor health 2. His familys poor health 3. Money (either how much he is in debt for buying the camels with interest charges, or having Sara and I help him count his tips) It gradually got worse as the days went on.

The Sand Dunes were awesome. They were not as large as I was expecting, but they were infact Sand Dunes. I was expecting Dunes like in the movie "The Doors" where I could roam around and get lost. These, you couldnt get lost in, not big enough. Tea time was in perfect alignment with the setting of the sun, so I got my chai and went and sat on top of the San Dunes and watched the sunset with my warm cup of Chai. Best part of the trip for sure. After the sunset, it was time for food, and by that time it was dark. The food was always so basic but so good. I am used to plain veggie hot dogs with Patrick when I goto the desert thats it. Breakfast was Chai first ofcourse, then toast with jam, boiled eggs, and biscuits. Lunch was normally rice or noodles, curry, veggies, and chapati. Fruit for desert normally, either fresh papayas or oranges. Dinner was similar to lunch just double the size.One time for an appetizer Tiger made Finer Chips. Before cooking they look like noodles but you put them in hot cooking oil and within seconds they are like 15x the sizer and are crispy like chips! Magic food! So cool. Tiger than left to go talk to his other camel safari friends where Sara and I were pretty much motionless and speechless under the blanket of stars and the roaring fire I kept fueling. You know this sfari showed me that I could get used to that style of living. No house, you sleep where you want, cook your food yourself, build your own fires to keep you warm, so free and so open. In any case, I set up my bed in the sand and watch the shooting stars get shotgun'd across the clearest, brightest night sky I have ever seen. There were so many, it was unbelievable. After I realized they just kept coming, I started making my wishes on them. I started making wishes for my family, then my friends. Anyone I left out when the stars stopped flying by, I made my own wishes for them not to leave a single person out. I told my buddy Patrick that I would think about him when I saw my first desert night sky, I knew he would appreciate the sight before my eyes as much as I did. I wish he was there.

Then it was morning, I had a good nights sleep and Tiger made a good breakfast and second days agenda we saw more villages and children. We camped in a dry riverbed where there were more good times with Chai, campfires, silence, and sunsets.

The next day was our last day. We didnt really ride the camels too much that day. We took a really long lunch break where I got lost in the beauty of the tree branches with the bright blue sky background. Tiger would let the camels free at this point, tying their two front legs together with minimal slack so they do not run off. When he would fetch them, he would take either Sara or myself which is where he would have us "help him count his tips", ofcourse not together but Sara and I talked about this when he was gone. Such crap. The other person who stayed back did the dishes desert style. You washed the dishes with dirt. How ironic does that sound? You make these dirty dishes clean with dirt. Suprisingly it worked.

So we get dropped off where the jeep will be bringing us back into town and he tells us that he is going to go to his nearby village (which we were promised to goto as well and see his family) and take care of the camels and gave us the notion that if we were going to give him a tip to do so now. Before the trip I was going to give a tip no matter what, so I gave him the money I was going to give if it was the worst or best expierience Ive had. After Sara and I hop in the car, another man hops out of the jeep takes the camels away and Tiger then hops in the jeep to drive off with us. It was all a lie. This is India. You get lied to no matter where you go or what you are doing. People here only see green in your foreign skin color and will do whatever it is to pull on your heartstrings to hopefully get some money out of you. You have to accept this here or else you will be miserable with everyone here like how Sara was. She had a very short temper with people here because shes been here for almsot a year and is tired of it. But you have to accept it, you cannot escape it.

When we get back to our guest house we were suppsoed to be given a free night stay that was included in the safari price. Well, after I spoke my mind when I was asked "How was the safari" he directed us to another hotel because he knew that if I saw someone trying to make a safari arrangement I would speak my mind again. I was given the dirtest room I have slept in so far in India at this new guest house, but I dont mind. I gave Sara the nice room upstairs and immediately went for my cold shower, which I looked forward to very much, and went to journal, then to sleep. There was a marriage ceremony going on which meant lots of fireworks, music and people til late hours of the night. All that noise combined with the normal street noise and the bed bugs that kept me company, I did not sleep well. I had a bus to catch at 930am to goto Pushkar, Sara had a bus around the same time so we were instructed to be ready to be picked up at 9.

Next morning we were ready well before 9 and never got picked up. We arranged a rickshaw at 915 realizing we werent going to be picked up and first Sara was dropped off and we said our goodbyes. Then I was dropped at my bus station and was told "That is your bus", I pay and leave to find out my bus already left. So I call the hotel and give them hell, get picked up, taken back to the hotel, given a story about how its my fault I missed the bus not theirs, get a new bus ticket for 4 o clock and roam around town the rest of the day. I was supposed to be picked up at 330 for my new bus, bus 330 came and no one around to pick me up. I call and it is now 5 o clock my bus leaves. So 430 comes and I am instructed to go with one of the hotel workers for my bus.
"where is my bus ticket?"
"he has it"
"who is he?"
"that man" pointing to my driver
"I need my ticket, in my hand, right now."
"I dont have, we go pick up"
So we go pick it up from another worker of the hotel who says its back at the hotel. My bus leaves in 10 minutes and my driver has to go all the way back into town and come back...I get dropped off at my bus, and he brings me my ticket in 5 minutes. I tell him,
"You dont leave until I am on that bus."
as soon as I got off the motorcycle and turned around, he left. I found my bus and my seat was on the back row. I laughed, put on some music and tried to just shun everything for a few minutes.

Well, remember my first bus ride expierience? Yeah the bench was maybe 3/4ths as big, but had 3 times as many people crammed in the bus. My personal space has never been so invaded but I couldnt do anything about it except smile. I could be miserable about it, but you cant here. There is so much bullshit in India that you just have to roll with patiently and with a smile for the sake of your sanity. In the midst of all the mishapes I am able to practice patience and positivity. When you do this you attract more positive energy into your envoirnment. For example, soon after this, I met the Indians I was sitting next to. The first thing Indians talk to me about is my tattoos because they are Indian influenced. Next is about my personal life, married, family, kids etc. Then we talked about Hollywood movies/Bollywood movies, Ricki Martin, Michael Jackson, more love movies and more awful pop music. Indians love pop music, its hilarious and love stories.
"I love hollywood movies!"
"Oh yeah? Like which ones?"
"My favorite movie is Titanic."
It is a good movie do not get me wrong, but you ask any American male in their mid twenties what their favorite movie is, you will never hear Titanic. Or when asked favorite artist in music, you would never hear Ricki Martin. We quickly became friends. When our bus stopped I was gonna buy a Chai but one of them bought it for me and bought a beer for himself. I could already smell the alcohol on his breath within the first 5 seconds of talking to him. The smell of booze, especially cheap booze on someones breath as strong as his, seriously made me gag when I would smell it. Putrid.

We started talking about temples, and he told me about a temple in Mumbai. One of the largest in India and he showed me a picture of whos temple it is he had in his wallet. He empties the wallet and says to me,
"I want you to have."
"Im sorry?"
"Gift for you friend. We are friends I want you to have. If you ever goto Johdpur I want you to call me, whatever you need anywhere call me friend"
I take off one of my favorite mala's and give to him.
"I want you to have my mala. I dont have many souvenirs from America but this is my favorite mala and I want you to have it."
"I cant have, I cant wear."
He went on to explain that he cant wear it because it eats meat and drinks. You cant mix the two things. We then exchanged info and told him if he ever wants to come to America he can stay with me, I could pick him up from the airport and show him around. He loved hearing this.

My bus was supposed to be a direct bus to Pushkar but the bus dropped me off at another bus station at 3 am telling me that I need to get on a lcoal bus for 30 minutes then it will drop me off in Pushkar. All the signs are in Hindi and no foreigners around. I see a booth looks like a ticket booth ask for a bus to Pushkar where another Indian is going, we meet, talk and he makes sure I get there okay. When we got off the bus in Pushkar, he walked me to my guest house to make sure I got there ok. Good man, I thanked him and off he went. There was no one in the dark lit lobby, so I call the number on the business card and get taken into their only room. It was a ncie room except the fact that they havnt cleaned the room, I did not care. I was so exhausted, I got my sleeping bag out and passed out in 10 seconds.

Pushkar is a very clean city. Also a really holy city. It is surrounded by mountains and has a holy lake in the center where people bless you (scam) or bathe in the lake. Interesting to watch people do their prayers in the water amongst the white temples surrounding the lake. Here I plan to just relax before mymeditation course in Jaipur on Dec 3. There are many temples to visit and I have alot of my new book to read. That is the plan.

Much love to you all.