Monday, 21 February 2011

Jaisalmer, India

"To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation...And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
~Paulo Coelho 

This is what I know about Jaisalmer.  It is called the Golden City, and it is close to the Thar Desert.  Maharawal Jaisal built Jaisalmer Fort along a busy trade route between Afghanistan and central Asia, and the early settlers became rich by looting passing caravans.  About 30% of Jaisalmer's population still lives inside the fort, and the architecture is really stunning.  Ninety bastions (guard posts) encircle the fort perimeter, and it was built to maximize airflow and to capture precious rain water. 

Golden City.

When we arrived in Jaisalmer early on the morning of February 8th, we got into taxis at the train station.  From there it was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the taxis weaving and swerving through traffic to the entrance of Jaisalmer Fort.

After the taxis dropped us off, we walked uphill through the fort to the hotel.

The following morning, I visited the Maharawal Palace (a palace inside the fort where Jaisalmer's royalty used to live).  Intricate carvings and great views of the surrounding city (where the other 70% of the population lives) make this 200 rupees well spent.  (In case I didn't explain, 1 USD = 45 rupees.)

View from inside Maharawal Palace.

Other interesting things transpired in Jaisalmer.  For instance, a local shopkeeper lent us saris for 150 rupee.  They are surprisingly comfortable and, IMHO, fashionable.

Hot...or not.

The last 24 hours were spent riding camels in the Thar Desert.  It was a bumpy ride, especially for someone still adjusting to the local food.  Thank God for my "steel stomach." 

In India, the camel is regarded as the Symbol of Love, the rationale being that if you can love a camel you can love anyone.  Incidentally, the potbelly you observe is my money purse.   

The Thar Desert is beautiful, btw. 

Please excuse the weird angle.  I've been doing lots of odd things with my camera lately. 

The revelation that I had in Jaisalmer was that I was dreaming bigger than I'd ever dreamed before.  Sometimes I feel like my dreams are silly...or too expansive to accomplish in a lifetime.  But here in Jaisalmer they seemed important and possible again. 

Perhaps we know that we're in the right place when it makes us dream bigger than we've ever dreamed before...dreams akin to when we were younger and idealistic...dreams like the ones we had when our lives were sheltered and secure...

"Please, God...don't give up until I've taken the shape that you wish for me.  Do this by whatever means you think best, for as long as you think best, for as long as you like, but never ever throw me on the scrap heap of souls."
~Paulo Coelho

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