We drove out of Salawas on a very bad, deeply rutted road. Prem’s driving skills kept the car in one piece. We soon were in an area where there were very few houses very far apart.
We came to a house where an old man lived. Roop spoke to the man briefly in Hindi. The man invited us to sit down then began relating his life story. His wife died of cancer before she was thirty. He never remarried. His son was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. His daughter is married and lives nearby, but the old man lives alone.
The old man had cataracts in both eyes. I wondered how he managed to take care of himself, since he was virtually blind. He told us his daughter comes by often to help him.
He explained that the object in front of him was a little shrine. He uses it to prepare the opium that he makes an infusion with and drinks every day as part of a religious ceremony.
On the wall above his head I noticed some paintings. I asked who did them. His daughter did all of the painting at his home.
I was given permission to photograph his home, so I got up and looked around.
A desert bed, just like the ones we slept on at the Krishna Desert Camp.
The way to the kitchen.
This was one of the nicest village homes I had seen. And the paintings were lovely.
For not being a professional guide, Roop had nevertheless done a really good job of finding and showing me some interesting local culture.
We thanked the blind man for his time and drove back to the main highway to drop off Roop. Although Roop had said he would not charge for guiding us around, I had secretly discussed with Prem how much to give him when he was wrapping up my purchases earlier. Prem gave me an idea of what a one-day guiding fee would be. It wasn’t much, so I doubled it. Roop was surprised and happy to accept. And Prem seemed proud of me!
What a touching story. This is an experience you would never have cocooned inside a tour bus.
No, indeed. And although I’m not big on group tours — but I do believe they have their place — I still managed to have a few adventures when I was on a group tour in Egypt, as you well know!!!
Also, encounters like this aren’t so easy if you travel solo and make all your own arrangements. As a woman, you have to be extra cautious for your own personal safety. But with a trusted driver/friend like Prem with me, there was never any worry about going somewhere with a local guide or taking someone like Roop along with us. I always knew I was in good hands.