A few days in Phalodi
06.03.2009 - 08.03.2009 34 °C
We traveled by train from Jodphur to Phalodi with Manosch, a very friendly young man who is working on his MSc in chemistry. He was surprised and delighted that we were getting off at the same stop as him – and insisted on helping us find and settle into one of the only two hotels in town. We had decided to stop in this non-tourist location because it is the railway stop closest to the winter grounds of the beautiful Demoiselle cranes. Emil was looking a little green in the face, but once we’d negotiated a fair price for the rooms, we made our way to the nearby village of Khichan where the cranes swoop in every day around 4 pm. What a sight! – 100’s of one meter tall steel blue and black birds with bright red eyes.
That night we learned why Emil was green… We had naively hoped he’d be well enough to visit Manosch’s family home by the next evening, but the poor guy was sick for several days. Kaya kindly stayed back at the hotel with him, while the rest of us traveled for about 30 minutes by jeep to get to the small village where the family lives. Were we ever in for a surprise!
We had the definite impression this was a modern Indian family: Manosch’s father works for BSNL, the Indian national telecommunications company, and his sons study in the city. The last kilometer drive to their place was over little more than a track in the sand. As we piled out of the jeep, we were warmly greeted by a beautiful swarm of smiling women wearing the colorful attire I had thought belonged to the gypsies: bright Rajastani style saris (flowing blouses over long skirts and a long transparent veil), lots of big jewelry, nose rings that looped across to connect with earrings, and huge jeweled head pieces and necklaces. They welcomed us into the central courtyard of their flat roofed adobe home, and showed us the kitchen, where they cook on a dung powered stove. They had, of course, been busy all day cooking up a sumptuous feast to feed us (while they looked on).
We enjoyed walking on the dunes – saw a few several antelope outside the compound fence. The family was proud of their small herd of cows – we later watched as the women affectionately milked and fed them, dressed in all their finery. Even though none of the women spoke a word of English, we had a great time with them. We quickly learned that Manosch, with his sparkle and outgoing nature, takes after his mom. She was full of fun, and encouraged us to take lots of photos of the women and the one man (her brother) who showed up in traditional attire. Which reminds me… it felt like the entire extended family showed up to check us out!! And watch us eat. Such is life when you get off the beaten track in India!