I was still dreaming about the art galleries of Nawalgarh, the havelis I had seen and the havelis I knew I would not be able to see, when at 4 pm the chain of my thoughts was broken by Babli, the owner of D.S.Bungalow, announcing the arrival of camel cart. While we were waking up the kids he put the mattresses on the cart to make it a comfi ride.
Soon as we adjusted in the cart the camel moved ahead in its elegant gait through a nearby hamlet. I had taken a camel ride in Jaisalmer and was of the opinion that camel cart would not be that exciteresting. I was wrong. Camel ride was adventurous but the camel cart ride was luxuriously relaxed.
The elevation of the cart was good enough to give us glimpses of life in the village houses on both sides of the sandy bylane. The sight of swaying wheat-pods, yellow-mustard farms guarded by alert scarecrows kept us engaged. The slow ride and the mild evening breeze added to the charm of beautiful country ride.
Slowly we left that hamlet behind and reached the tree-lined sandy bylane. The camel’s eyes shone bright at the larder in offering and it started to feed on the leaves. An expectation mismatch! The owner was of the opinion that he was keeping his pet well-fed and didn’t like its idea of mouthing whatever its neck could grab. A tussle broke down between the two. The cart-owner was determined to keep it moving and the camel was equally adamant to have its share from the larder.The struggle between the two continued on that lane and ended only when we reached an endless vista of semi-arid region that was stretched till horizon.
Now, it was our turn to feel the need to feed on that delicious stretch. Luckily, even the cart-wallah was in agreement. Kids were so quick to start playing with the sand as if they were eyeing this opportunity for long. In those precious kid-free moments the adults transcended into philosophical space. Jaishree started to walk, enjoying the touch of silky sand, leaving her footprints on sand. Anirudh started to observe silently his sand-full hand getting empty, as if contemplating about the life and the time slipping out of it. Dhanshree used the sand to find the directions of wind, as if wondering about the directions life and destiny have in store for her.
What about me! Well when you are so preoccupied with other’s thought, when do you have time for your own? My other preoccupation was not to allow my paunch to appear. At least in pictures I managed to do though the efforts were clearly visible.
Time really slipped away fast and soon it was time to return. The semi-arid region of Rajasthan has khejri trees as their age old companions. These trees are favourites of Baya the weaver bird. On our way-back we noticed a tree decorated with dangling baya-nests. It may appear that these swinging nests are fragile, but in reality they are so sturdy that they need skillful hands to remove them from trees without destroying them. Undoubtedly, these are the architectural wonders and an artist’s delight.
These marvels are built by male-baya to prove its bayaliness to its lady love. Like an art critic or a knowledgeable art connoisseur the female baya inspects the half-build nest (a helmet with a strap at that time), nitpicking, disappointing everyone except the master artist and moving in it with him. However, the male baya has something in common with its human form. The baya-couples are supposed to construct the remaining nest together but most of the time after mating when female is about to lay eggs, male moves out and female is left alone to complete the nest. And the male start building over its expertise and starts to build a few more nests to woo the other female-bayas as well. Male baya usually constructs 3-4 such nests at a time.
The serenity of surrounding was broken by the sound of galloping horses and the two riders, loomed in front and zoom past us. It was a reminder that we are in the land of warriors that sends maximum recruits for the horse mounted cavalry of Indian Armoured Corp.
After this aberration the surrounding regained its composure and it was placid again. The sun was about to set, and the last rays turned everything – the sand, the smoke of evening meals being cooked in village house, the farms, the Khejri trees and our mood – mystically serene and calm.