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Road Trip, Day 4: Return to Udaipur

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The morning was quiet and peaceful. Once everyone was awake, bathed and dressed, we had breakfast. The Sam Camp workers brought plate after plate of aloo paranthas, curd and chai which kept disappearing immediately.

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Madu had received a call from his business. He was needed back at work as soon as possible, so we would have to cut the trip short. There would be no overnight at Jodhpur this time. We would have to drive all the way back to Udaipur today.

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We started out with little else in the landscape but sand and camels.

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One last desert photo op!

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It was a long day of driving for Madu.

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The desert gives way to scrubland.

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We drove for hours, stopping only in villages for drinks and snacks.

Around 3:00 we reached Jodhpur without having seen a restaurant since breakfast. Nirmal needed to meet with a leather bag maker for an hour for business, so we dropped him off there. The rest of us would have lunch, order Nirmal some take-out, then we’d get back on the road.

Finding a place to eat in Jodphur again wasn’t easy. We looked up a couple of places which turned out to be closed because it was off season. The ladies wanted a vegetarian lunch. Madu, Pushker and I wanted to go to a locally popular  restaurant that specialized in tandoori chicken. After we had located everything with Madu’s GPS, we dropped Rafiq and the ladies at a vegetarian restaurant then returned to the chicken place.

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Pushker, my hero, persuaded the unwilling restaurant workers to serve us.

We encountered problems at the chicken place. Because we were there at 3:00, we were way after the lunch crowd and too early for dinner. The restaurant workers were preparing for the dinnertime crowd and didn’t want to serve us. Pushker had to argue strenuously, beg and finally offer to pay more than the usual price. Reluctantly, they took our order.

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This famous chicken restaurant was a hole-in-the-wall place, little more than street food with two tables. But just because their kitchen was out on the sidewalk was no indicator of lack of quality. The food was FANTASTIC! We were told they didn’t have naan, only roti, but it tasted exactly like naan. Madu, Pushker and I made short work of a pile of roti and two tandoori chickens. When we picked up Nirmal, he was so hungry he polished off another one almost by himself.

The rest of the day was uneventful. We rolled into Udaipur at around 11:30 p.m.

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My friends were the easiest people to travel with and the best travel companions you could ever hope for. There was no friction, no fussiness, no complaining. There was lots of laughing, singing and enjoyment of each other’s company. It was like a nonstop party, which is what it’s like to be around them any time. It was the best road trip ever.

Road Trip Day 2

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Bharti slices the miserable bag of apples for our miserable breakfast in this miserable town.

The next morning it was raining hard, which delayed our departure and meant there would be no time for Shahi and Bharti to visit Meherangarh Fort. Once it let up, Rafiq and Madu took off to see if they could find a restaurant open for break fast. Everything was closed:  restaurants, markets, everything! It wasn’t a holiday, it was just Jodhpur. I started really not liking this place. You can find a restaurant open in Udaipur any time of day, in season or off season. All the guys could find to bring back for us was a bag of apples.

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Our day didn’t get any better once we got on the road. Our destination was Osian, only a couple of hours away. But the rains turned a dry creek bed into a river gushing over the road. We saw a man up to his waist in water gingerly crossing the stream. Only big trucks like this one were high enough to cross the rushing water without the engine stalling and heavy enough to cross without being carried away. Everyone else was turning back. We were willing to skip Osian and head straight to Jaisalmer, but Madu was now determined to get there. He wanted to try crossing the water, but we all said it wasn’t worth the risk and convinced him to turn around. It was another day like the day before:  asking directions of everyone we met, getting different and confusing answers, and going down lots of rutted roads. But this time, the roads had water features.

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When we reached Osian, it was blazing hot. We had come to this little known town to see the Sachiya Mata Sun Temple, which none of us had been to before. It had a series of archways preceding the temple entrance which are now covered to protect visitors from the oppressive sun. That made it much more pleasant, since you would otherwise have had to go barefoot up hot marble stairs. Visitors to temples must always remove their shoes before entering.

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Even this short uncovered spot gave you the hot foot. Yeow!

At the top of the stairs, the temple was small and unassuming from the outside. Inside was a small, disappointing room with way too many electrical wires snaking around and rusted fixtures. This was not a marble beauty like Ranakpur. The walls and columns were covered with cheap ceramic tiles, many of which were broken or missing. It was also smoky from years of burning incense.

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What was interesting was the mosaic mirror work on a few of the columns. It looks much better in the photo than it did in person.

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Temple visits always include a prasad: an offering of an overly sweet, mushy cookie.

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A prasad is little more than a small sugar bomb. I had one on my first visit to India, and I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorite tasty treats. I now manage to be somewhere else when they pass those around.

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A shop selling religious accessories near the temple.

On the way back to the car, a woman was following close behind me, yammering all the way. At first I thought she was talking on her phone, but every time I stopped to take a picture, she stopped. And every time I continued, she continued, yapping nonstop. Then she started making the eating gesture, and I knew she was a beggar. Pushker and Rafiq told her several times to leave us alone, but like the sun, she was relentless. If you’re in India any length of time, you’ll soon reach a point where the constant assault of ceaseless hordes of beggars will render you pitiless. Foreigners attract them like flies. It was brutally hot, I was cranky, and I wasn’t inclined to give her anything. No one else did, either, so it wasn’t as if I were the sole heartless one.

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Ready-to-wear turbans for sale in Osian.

As soon as we got into the car and pulled away, we began laughing about it. Silly me. I had been taking pictures of everything else. I should have taken a picture of her.

Mother Truckers

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We stopped at a garden hotel restaurant for lunch. It wasn’t air conditioned, but with all the doors and windows open and all the fans going, it was tolerable. A 20 minute power cut five minutes after we got there made it less so.

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Mohit was a good traveler. He was pretty happy and didn’t cry too much. After lunch, we headed for Jodhpur, where we were spending the night.

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A couple of hours down the road, we encountered trucks parked on the highway.  Lots and lots and lots of them.

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They were blocking one lane of traffic, making it nearly impossible for other motorists to get by. The empty lane pictured here was  under construction, and no one was supposed to use it.

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Madu, Rafiq and Pushker got out to find out what was going on. Apparently it was some kind of a truckers strike or demonstration. I never could find any reference to it in the news later on. Madu was trying to find out if there was another road we could take.

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Traffic had come to a complete stop for miles. If you were waiting for a bus, it sucked to be you.

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We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I thought. Yet there were pedestrians strolling by.

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Madu pulled off the highway, determined to get around this mess. Indian roads are mainly unmarked, so we asked for directions practically every time we saw anyone. And we got a different answer from everyone.

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This way or that way?

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We went down some pretty rough dirt roads. At one point we had to go through a filthy village that was literally a shit hole. It had rained hard that morning, and the cow shit filled road through the village had turned into a cow shit lake. I was praying the car didn’t break down. That shit really stunk!

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Finally! A paved road again!!

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I did not want to see another truck ever again. But we did an hour or so later, when we finally reached the highway again.

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It should only have taken us three hours to get from Ranakpur to Jodhpur. Thanks to this exercise, it took more like five and a half. When we finally reached our hotel, we were told that because it was off season, their restaurant was closed. The guys ordered some food from a takeout place and had it delivered. The hotel “let” us use their rooftop restaurant to eat.

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Crazy monkeys and truckers..what a day!

Thank goodness the guys had thought ahead and brought beer!

Bishnoi Village

Roop soon directed Prem to turn onto a dirt road off the main two-lane rural highway. There was nothing around for miles.

We saw an antelope. I had read that the Bishnoi people consider them sacred.

Soon we came to a village and parked the car. Prem was concerned about the group of children which immediately gathered, so he stayed behind to keep an eye on the car.

The village homes weren’t as colorfully painted or as tidy as the ones I’d seen on the internet.  I now understood that the websites that offered Bishnoi village tours must have taken photos only of the wealthiest and prettiest village houses, and they hadn’t come to this particular village to do it. After a twinge of disappointment, I realized I was seeing something that was off the tourist circuit. How great is that!


The group of kids that were following us begging were crowding around too closely, making me a little nervous. One of the girls tried to steal one of my earrings and pulled on it. I have pierced ears, so this was really not good. I yelled so that they would back off. I took my earrings off and never wore them again for the rest of the trip.


We saw a woman painting her hut.

Like in Ghana, West Africa, painting the houses is women’s work.


The houses weren’t the only things that were painted.


Although what I saw was interesting, there wasn’t much to see in this particular village.  If I return to Jodhpur, I’d take a half-day Bishnoi village tour that the hotel arranged. The local tours are done with a jeep. A jeep would have been much better than our Tata Indica since the roads to the village were rough and rutted.