With the morning spent wandering through the Bazaar and a rather dubious encounter with a USB seller who also seemed keep to sell us a rock the size of my fist of marijuana and a black gooey substance, which turned out to be opium, we once more put our bags into the back of Shittish’s battered boot and head off – Jaisalmer bound.
The prospect of the journey – seven hours over pot-holed roads (and considering our less than satisfactory previous voyage) was rather too much for me to bear – and so I decided to get a donation from the walking pharmacy; in the form of two Diazapam from Sophie (purchased in Udaipur).
I must quickly divert to mention the pharmacies in India; they are ridiculous! They’re stocked to the brim with every concoction that you can imagine: a medicinal haven or a junkie’s heaven. Anyway, two of those bad boys and I was out like a light until Sophie woke me up bleary-eyed just before pulling into Jaisalmer to join in with her marvel at the surrounding sand dunes – the Thar desert.
Jaisalmer, or the Golden city, and the third on our list of the four main cities of Rajasthan (Pushkar is more of a village) was founded in the 12th century by Maharawal Jaisal of the Bhatti Rajput clan. It was once a flourishing trade centre located on the route from Afghanistan and Central Asia and in the 16th century was inhabited by many rich rulers, who dealt in silk, gems and opium.
Jaisalmer’s importance within the trade route dwindled in the 18th century with the growth of sea ports, such as Mumbai. A nostalgic reminder of the bygone munificent age remains however in the various Haveli’s dotted around the city, the Maharaja’s Palace (currently part hotel) and another intimidating Fort.
This fort (unlike Jodphur’s) was inhabited though, in fact the whole fort was a jungle of shops, hostels and restaurants – which we spent the first two days exploring. The brick-work was crumbling and parts were already broken; out of wear not battle. Back at our hotel the manager told us that a German couple had been killed two weeks before when part of the wall collapsed upon them, apparently it was all being kept on the down low, for fear of affecting the tourist trade.
Our hotel manager, he was a story in himself – a suitable description would waver between pervert and creep. With an Opium stained front tooth and a large brow, he lounged around in one of the bottom rooms by day and by night came upstairs to the rooftop restaurant to harass any young girls that were unfortunate enough to be staying there.
Thank goodness for Tom, having a man around really does make things a lot
easier. Though that said he didn’t rush to my aid as, when I mentioned that I had a head-ache (a ploy to leave and go to bed), the manager jumped up and started to give me a head-massage, after he had just mentioned that I was just his ‘type of girl.’
When I told him to stop, he looked mortally offended (fake no doubt in itself) and so, to avoid a scene, I let him molest my scalp for a further five minutes, before thanking him and excusing myself to go to the bathroom – never to return! Well until early the next morning, when we were due to leave for our pre-arranged camel safari. Letting Shittish of the hook (who was supposed to be taking us) we joined Saf and Tom in the back of a white Jeep and set off – desert bound.