The Old Indian Hope Trick
Click to view enlargements
"Tawa chapatti, tawa chapatti!" The red-turbaned man seated by the pool's wall begins singing the moment we come into view. A mischievous grin flashes under a generous twirling moustache and his eyes light up.

"Tawa chapatti" - well, that's what it sounds like anyway. He waves to us as one-handed he keeps playing his discordant ditty on a graceful stringed instrument.

"'What is he singing?", I ask our guide, Jitu. "Is it about the pool?"

It's a rare oasis in this barren edge-of-the-desert place. Jaisalmer sits on the brink of the Thar desert, said to be second in size to the Sahara, and water is rare here. That's why the Gadi Sagar - this lake - was constructed over six centuries ago to supply drinking water for the community. Now it connects to the Rajasthan Canal, and people now swim here instead.

But then maybe he was singing about the ornately carved stone gate, the Tilon-Ki-Pol, nearby. Jitu had just finished explaining that it had been built by a local prostitute, Tilon, long ago. The Maharajah felt it would not be proper that the pool's main gate also be one with connections to a house of ill repute, so he had another gate built and used. But Tilon was wily and made sure her gate could not be pulled down, ensuring its security by having a Krishna temple built above it.

Smaller than many of the fort cities in Rajasthan, in north-west India, Jaisalmer (population around 50,000) is called the golden city because of local sandstone from which it was constructed.

One evening we visited the sunset viewing place on the outskirts of the city, From this vantage point, with the silhouettes of burial cenotaphs behind, we watched the sun dip towards Pakistan, only seventy or so kilometres away across the desert.

As we waited for the sunset, I picked up a piece of honey-coloured stone, Jaisalmer stone, and began to understand why the city glows so. Tiny specks of mica - or maybe quartz - are sprinkled throughout this rock and each catch the light. No wonder the buildings, particularly the fort constructed over 800 years ago, in 1196, seem almost alive, or perhaps more like the film set for the tale of a magic kingdom.

Jaisalmer Fort dominates a flat landscape, visible for kilometres as you approach from the east, from Johdpur. Slowly it settles into a more realistic perspective as you reach the city, but still it is the defining landmark visible from most places, and it is easy to see how it has survived the many sieges and sackings over the years.

Unlike most other forts in the area, this one is a teeming, lively warren of Jain temples, shops selling embroidery and fabrics, the seven storey palace of a former maharaja, private homes and even hotels. Jitu pointed out to us his own home in the centre, beside a shady tree.

Later we climbed steep spiralling stairs to a bed and breakfast within the fort and, as happens when overseas, met some Australians renting a room there. And as also happens, found that they live just a few suburbs away from our home in Sydney.

Their room was clean and neat, the view over the fort village almost total, and they were ecstatic about their discovery. But before you start to take notes, the future of the dwellings in the fort is uncertain. There is concern that the foundations are crumbling, and there was talk, even then, of evicting the tenants and clearing the fort of all but a few inhabitants within the next few months.

One place where there is unlimited space is on the Sam sand dunes, about 45 minutes from Jaisalmer. While some sneer at the triteness of camel rides on a sand dune, the fact remains that these massive beasts are more at home on the soft slippery sand than any human in a pair of sneakers. It's the easy way up to the crest of the dunes to view the sunset, an ideal end to the hot day.

"Tawa chapatti!" As we turn to leave our man strikes up a blazing finale. At last Jitu translates for us.
 

"September 11 and the Iraq War have been bad for us here," he tells us, "He's saying how glad he is that the tourists have returned."

Well, of course we put a 20-rupee note in his hand. "Tawa chapatti," we say, or something like it.

And then we remember the one Hindi word we know.

"Namaste." The greeting that doubles as hello - and goodbye. Rather appropriate, we think.

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

231_15676799571_5105_n

 

 

Www.Foodandtravel.Com.Au - Australia

Best Food Travel Website 2021

 


foodandtravel.com.au has been awarded

Best Antipodean Culinary Travel Expert, 2019

by the prestigious UK-based magazine...

 

 

It's worth taking a driving trip through country South Australia...

...winelands, long views, great seafood and more.

Find it HERE>>>

 


 

Where has WA's Great Southern and all the (wild)flowers gone?

You'll find them now permanently HERE...

 


 

If you are wondering where the GREAT IDEAS for Virtual Travel have gone to....

...they are HERE>>>

 


 

Missed seeing Esperance Western Australia ~ and Skylab?

HERE it is....

 


 

Georgia offers another world outside the capital...

Find out about it HERE>>>

 


 

World city options - take note....

...for when you travel again!

 


 

LISTEN TO SALLY'S PODCASTS...

...from all around the world

Tune in and hear her talks on     

Radio 2GB 873AM....

 

 


 

Jigsaws and fishy things...

...Nova Scotia has this and so much more.

 


 

History and beauty with a dash of fun...

...and that's just the beginning of Armenia!

 


 

Zany Zadar & Croatia's north

Crazy and beautiful, a place everyone should visit.

Read more...

 


 

Lovely Lisbon ~ and beyond. Sardines and secrets!

Find out much more here.... 

 


 

Where did cool Colombo go?

It's here!

 


 

Two virtual visits to Ontario

here....

AND

.....here!

 


 

Where is Tbilisi? 

Once you discover its beauty and history, you will be making plans to visit as soon as you can.

Read more....

 


 

Madrid the marvelous - so much to see in Spain's capital.

See it all here....

 


 

If you missed reading about Thailand's organic produce....

Here is the new link....

 


 

Colour comes to Green Summer

See what is happening in Australia's northernmost city this summer....

 


 

Here's something fun to check out!

The world's most popular surnames ....

...by country

 


 

~ Northern Spain ~

mountains and miracles - and much more!

After this journey, many people will never see the world the same way again.

 

Find out why....

 


 

Visit the beautiful heart of

Portugal....

Gondolas, cathedrals, cakes and a palace thrown in for good measure.

See for yourself!

 


 

And how about these vineyards in Georgia?

See other gardens in strange locations here....

 


 

Now this IS unusual! The Golden Bridge near Da Nang in Vietnam

(Photo: psyajh1004)

+++
See  more on this video....

 


 

Australia, the land of long straight roads.

Cross the country with us and see some more of them...

 


 

Make your own food and travel videos? YES YOU CAN!

Gordon Hammond gives some insider tips.....

 


 

Travelling to Sydney? The northern beaches are spectacular.

See what we mean...

 


 

For an exotic travel experience, go glamping in the desert.

Where do you think this is?

 


 

Hungary has something for every traveller.

Especially those who love good food...