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Jaisalmer, India

Facts for visitors
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ArrivedMonday, 24 September 2001Printable version
DepartedSaturday, 29 September 2001 
Last updateMonday, 20 May 2002 

Sometimes you're just having a bad hair day...

Like last Tuesday. I had wanted to see the 'world famous' jain temple of Jaisalmer (who hasn't heard of it???). Only when I was standing in front of it, I found out that women are not allowed to enter the temple during their periods! For me, that was the end of it. I feel tempted to start a fierce argument here about discrimination and other injustices; but I won't. I have taken a photograph of this noticeboard and just left.

After having explored the little town I returned to my hotel. A cow was standing in the middle of the street. Nothing special, or so I thought, as tens of cows can be found in the streets here. So, I was happily walking past this black beast when it unexpectedly turned around and banged me with its head. I was frightened out of my wits! I sadly looked at my chest, but there was no blood and everything (or what passes for 'everything') was still there, so I got off with a fright!

I really thought I'd had enough for the day, but it wasn't to be. In the afternoon I decided to visit the bazaar (meaning, the shopping area - yes, I CAN live without De Bijenkorf department store... as long as there are alternatives! And there are enough of these, so I can't complain!). Well, there I was, walking around. Suddenly a man approached me and said, 'Yoo have koot karma'. I turned around in surprise and saw a man in a turban who wasn't planning on letting go of me that soon. 'But yoo aar missin som ting; yoo get it after veif or siks monts'. I had to use all my charms to decline his offer to have a cup of tea at his place. Five minutes later I was still shaking. Why me, why here, why today???

No hurry, no worry,
No chicken, no curry.

Wednesday was the day: Jacq was going to go on a "camel safari" (yes, yes, it's all in English now. What really seemed a bit silly at the start because it all sounded so semi-international is something you get used to after a week. And you have to admit that "kameel safari" does not sound that good, does it?. At half past seven in the morning we had to assemble at the office of the organisation and after less than an hour of riding in a jeep we (a German boy who was going for 4 days, the chef and I) were in de middle of nowhere. Out of the blue a 'camel man' (camel owner) appeared with three camels behind him. Could we please get on our camels? So, there I went, on the back of my own camel! Climbing the camel was to be done in stages: front-back-back-front. An animal like that first kneels and then raises itself to its full height. So, it's all pretty shaky. Anyway, like a perfect 'camel lady' I thus bumped along to the rythm of this water carrier. And it's so cool!!! Ten minutes later the chef and the 'camel man' had also climbed their camels (yep, they were very short men) and so we continued at a nice pace. There she is: Jackie Turbo, Queen of the Desert!

Oirika Honki Ponki

After two hours of rocking on the back of a camel we found a tree that even offered some shade in a dried river-bed. Time to get off, because around noon it is stifling hot here! Out of a former fertilizer bag a few poor looking pots and pans appeared. Your tolerance towards dirt immediately grows a bit! You don't believe your own eyes when a delicious meal is being set in front of you a little later. And that with the help of nothing more than three stones, a few twigs and three and a halve pans that have been burned black! After that the temperature rose to over 40 degrees (Celsius, that is!). So, it is vital that you don't do anything at all. You immediately learn the difference between shadow and shade and the differences in temperature when you're lying on your back and when you're lying on your stomach. Staring and sleeping you then think about your life...

After siesta it's back to your camel. The animal has a character that is very similar to mine: in principal, it is sweet and obedient, but where possible it will try to see how far it can go with you. So, I regularly have to act to prevent myself from landing in a cactus. Fortunately, last year we had a day out with the office to learn how to ride a horse. This was a great help to me now (of course there is only ONE master...). Around six o'clock we camped in a dune. Surprisingly, out of the blue behind a dune suddenly a man appears. Dressed in only a white loin-cloth and carrying a jute bag he conjures up ice cold cokes, Sprite, biscuits and cigarettes. You would expect a hidden camera here, but it turns out that he is the farmer of this piece of land. Of course, that's the way it is over here.

After dinner it's time for jokes. I didn't ask for this, but the chef and camel man started. After listening to their obscene jokes, it was my turn to tell one. Yep, I only know one joke and that is: 'What's the difference between a sparrow and a Boeing 747? Inside the sparrow, there are no windows!' They found it incredibly funny.

At a certain point the 'camel man' shouted, 'Oirika!!!' I looked at him with a blank face. His intonation and the expression on his face made me think it didn't simply mean 'Good morning!'. So, what could I say to him? 'Honki ponki', I said. I shouldn't have done that. The chef and 'camel man' were laughing their heads off (I never knew that my sense of humour is so international!). For the remainder of the safari, 'Oirika-Honki Ponki' was repeated many times.

As for the 'camp', there was not realy anything like a tent. All there was, was a piece of fabric. That was my matress. Another one was my blanket. And then I could enjoy the starry sky and the moon in this Thar Desert! I found it wonderful to be living outside like this.

My German travel companion turned out to be very quiet (which is only logical, in these temperatures). But he did start meditating on his sleeping bag when the temperature would be 40 degrees Celsius or higher until he almost fell off. I wonder, would that be what they call 'Om Shanti'?

After two days the safari came to an end. And it was a good job it did. My back was literally blue! And then to think that Ponki means 'butt' in Hindi...

Photo's

India, Jaisalmer: kameel.jpg        


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