..best describes my trip to Rajasthan. I reached the obscure village of Mundwa on a bright and sunny day. I feared the relentless sun would melt me away. Images of the Wicked Witch of the West melting away came to my mind. Except that she melted away when Dorothy threw water on her and I was liable to melting away in the complete absence of water, all due to the beautiful, round, flaming ball of fire that dominates the weather in the Thar desert. The very next day it poured. Poured so much that the narrow kachha roads of the village turned into running streams of water, courtyards got water logged and people stared up at the skies in surprise. It isn’t supposed to rain so much, in such little time in the desert. The day was obviously an exception.
There is nothing that beats the sense of euphoria that envelops one and all when it rains in the desert state. The sense of relief that the people experience is palpable. The rains have been much delayed this year and the people were uncertain if the rains would come at all. Many hadnt sowed their fields. There is no point of sowing seeds if you engage exclusively in rainfed agriculture. If the rain gives your village a skip, you not only miss harvesting a crop that year, your labour, time and seeds also go waste. But the blessed rain turned up this year and effectivley put everyone’s worries aside. The combination of the general atmosphere of happiness and the smell of the fresh rain hitting the parched land makes a heady mix. Rain has the ability to uplift anyone’s mood. I dont think anyones can escape it,least of all me! Of course, its a different matter that the sun zapps away all the happiness and excitmentent exactly 24 hours later when it reappears it all its fiery glory, evaporating even the slightest evidence of the rain.
The trip was a great learning experience professionally. So if I chose to not crib about the horrid travel to and from the place and the not-so-great living arrangements and the insanely oily and spicy food, I can call the trip perfect. Great people, lots of on-field learning, fairly compliant weather, a trip duration just right. What more can one ask for? A railway platform or hiking gear. I am not kidding. That was the only thing missing in the trip. The Government of India has the money to extend the railway network to the smallest of places in the country. Unfortunately it doesnt have enough money to build railway platforms and bridges. Which basically means that when you alight at Mundwa you have to jump off the train , land on the tracks or rather the rought, sharp edged stones that are laid in between the tracks and find scrape way to the exit. Getting off the train is easier than getting on it. To board a train you need hiking gear. Nothing else will do. I am sure you will understand working against gravity is hard enough. When you are weighed down with a travel bag that contains goods worth a few kilos, it only gets harder. You would never realise how high a railway coach is unless you stand on the track, at ground zero, and look up. It is high enough to make you feel like a dwarf and make the whole boarding process a serious challenge. And if you are standing on the tracks right under the blazing sun waiting for the train, the approaching engine and the caterpillar like coaches trailing behind it are gauranteed to scare you spitless. Watching large, impressive feats of engineering moving at high speeds towards you is anything but fun. It looks like I might have to make a couple of visits to this place in the near future. I fear for my safety.. and that of others. And for that reason alone I am starting a fund. One that will be handed over to the Government to help it build platforms all over the country, starting with Mundwa. Its either that or investing in a life insurance policy. Readers are requested to donate generously. Donations exempted from tax under 80G.
Yes, flowers bloom in the desert too. The humble bougainvillea adds a splash of colour to the landscape.
Nimbus grow by the hundreds. People should use the harvest to set up a lemonade business I think!!
The stump of a cut tree offers an interesting texture to those who take the time to stop and notice. Why the beautiful tree was cut in the first place, I know not.
The narrow enterance to an office. The laal pathar used here is the choise of material for all construction in the area. The easily available stone is what makes kachha mud wall-thached roof type of houses very rare in the area.
Switches curently in fashion.
A small artificial pond created to provide water to an adjoining small patch of agricultural land.On the left top corner of the pond is a bird. There were lots of pretty birds in the area but birds are so difficult to capture on camera.While they are camera shy in nature, I am verbally loud in expressing my excitement at spotting them and not soft enough in my approach towards them. A great combination to scare the poor things away.
Pomogranates-low water intensive and easy to grown. You might note,the land in Mundwa is absolutely flat. The texture of the soil is similar to that found in other parts of the state but there are no sand dunes anywhere. I like many others expected to see sand dunes all around. Sadly disappointed. 😦
The lone tree, the dry earth and the cloud specked sky.
“Mhari photu kaade hai” said the oldest lady. For those who donot follow Marwari (I speak as if I do), I traslate “Our photo is being taken”
Pretty pink flowers of the kair plant, the fruit of which is used to prepare the much famed kair-sangar sabzi.I love the sabzi and also the pickle made out of kair.Sluurp..
A gorgeous tree,begging an artist to replicate it on paper.
A shot of Lakholav pond, the largest of the four ponds situated in the four directions of the village. Dont miss the steps leading down to the pond, a very typical Rajasthani architecture. I found the greenest areas around the two ponds. Most of the rest of the land carried a dehyderated, parched look.
The day’s rain causes a temporary stream to develop. The kids frolick in the foreground of a tortoise shaped tree.
Resplendent colours paint the sky at sunset.
Raindrops cling to the leaves of a tree I cant identify.
A picture taken hastily from the train window on the homeward journey. Somewhere after Valsad.