Saturday, January 16th, 2016
We drove by the first cemetery I’ve seen since leaving home, Indian gazelles, large sand dunes covered in trees and shrubbery, a helicopter pad, and a quarry before we arrived in the tiny village of Setrawa. The village was home to one of the Sambhali Trust Centers which were dedicated to empowering Indian women and girls.
They’re taught numerous skill sets to help them out of poverty and to help them make a living on their own, such as sewing. The girls there are also taught English, basic mathematics and proper hygiene, and if they experience sexual assault, they are counseled and assisted.
At the time of our visit, there were three German girls teaching there as volunteers, as well as a former student of the center. After a brief Q&A, we provided them with the donations we accumulated: toiletries, toys, games, pencils and paper. They seemed surprised to receive it. Shortly after, the young girls and children arrived, and we all introduced ourselves before they sang us a welcome song. They provided chapati and a delicious “Indian pasta” for lunch before we all went outside to play.
We had a timed ‘turban wrapping contest’ which Jules won, then there was a sad attempt at a timed ‘sari wrapping contest’ which failed miserably. It was too much of a struggle for us Westerners to figure out how to do in such a short period of time! Trevor, Graham and Ray went out to play soccer with a small group of the local boys while most of the ladies in our crew had henna painted on us by the girls. I think the girl who was working on my henna was still learning. She seemed nervous and kept checking the girls around us to get ideas. I was just happy to be her guinea pig and it still turned out nice.
It was fun, but it was time to say goodbye to the children and hit the road. We passed by a crazy number of quarries on our way to Jodhpur, and passed by the Umaid Bhawan Palace and a golf course before entering the gated community that our guest houses were located in.
We dropped off the first group at one of the houses, then we went to ours which we’d be sharing with Ray and Pat, Nick and Jules, and Benedikt and Verena. The owners of the very nice house were the Rai family, Anil, Anita and Alind. When we entered the house, Anita applied a tika (a red marking on the forehead) as a greeting, which replaced the faded one I received at the Sambhali Trust Center. She also tossed a few customary handfuls of rose petals over our heads.
The balcony had an excellent view of the palace in the distance which we soaked in before walking to the Birkha Bawari, a famous stepwell found in their neighborhood. Anil explained to us how it allows access to the groundwater when water availability is scarce.
After we explored the stepwell, we met the rest of the group at the other guesthouse to enjoy some live music.
It was an amazing performance! The musicians were all very talented, especially the ones behind percussion and drums. They had people filming and taking professional photos. It was a lot of fun!
There were two beautifully adorned dancers, one was super enthusiastic and seemed like she was enjoying herself, and the other, not so much. She seemed like she hated life. After a few backbends and crazy contortions, they got a few of us to get up and dance with them. With a little liquid courage, I joined in, but no backbends involved! That would have resulted in a cracked skull.
After the show, we returned to the villa to have a home-cooked meal made by Anita. She was offering a cooking class later on to make chapati for 250 rupees. I was interested!
A few of us had some drinks on the balcony after dinner. We drank a good deal of Pat and Ray’s rum, which was much better tasting than the Bacardi I bought. I guess a little too good. Ray had accidentally broken a bowl earlier that day, which Anil and Anita had laughed off. I would be the second American to shatter something in their household.
Once Trevor, Nick, Jules and I decided we should head to bed, I had a bottle of Pepsi and the bottle of Bacardi in my arms as I walked to our room. I felt one of them slide out of my arms, praying it was the Pepsi, then I heard glass break. I was super embarrassed and hoped I didn’t wake up the whole house.
We had a little trouble finding anything to clean with though. We had used all of our toilet paper. I also didn’t want to use one of the towels since it would end up in the servant boy’s hands later and he might get cut. I thought I saw a broom under the sink, but it was some weird, unidentified rubber object. The shower squeegee would have to do.
As we pushed the squeegee against the tile, it made loud farting noises which just had us doubled over in hysterics. Jules remembered that there were napkins in the kitchen cabinet so she ran downstairs. When she returned, she told us she ran into Anil, and she was worried that he thought she was stealing. They were located in the silver cabinet. After cleaning, we decided, screw it, let have a few more drinks. Jules and I were the last two standing as we polished off the bottle of rum.
Jump Back to Part 22: A Jolly Pig, Child Beer & Fast Food
Jump Ahead to Part 24: Ziplining, Canon Balls & Hearing Voices
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Anxiety