Leaving the Pink City of Jaipur in a huge jeep, it soon became clear we were leaving the hustle and bustle of urban India and plunging deep into the countryside.
On the three-hour trip to the tiny village of Tordi Sagar, we encountered herds of cows and goats, packed wholesale markets and the nasty stink of fertiliser. Pulling into our beautifully decorated hotel, which felt more like someone’s home than holiday accommodation, we were ‘blessed’ with a red dot between our eyebrows and offered an ice cold cola.
Living the rural life
After a lunch of wheat rolls and spiced vegetable soup we went on a jeep safari around the local area, first visiting the village to see how rural Indians live their lives. They lead an almost entirely organic lifestyle; growing their own crops seasonally (at the moment it’s wheat and cauliflower), only remaining awake in daylight hours and collecting water from wells. They even build their homes out of cow dung, which seems bizarre but apparently it keeps the houses cool and wards off bacteria (no, I don’t get it either). It’s a simple life but judging by the number of people who smiled and waved at us, it’s a happy one.
After stopping off to take some sunset snaps by a dam, we ended our safari by walking to the top of a sane dune and watching the sun set over the desert (at the moment looking very green due to the recent monsoon season) with a cup of masala chai tea and biscuits.
We enjoyed a meal of homegrown vegetables and chicken from the farm in the evening, then most of us got some henna tattoos from some some women who came to the hotel (don’t panic mum, it only lasts seven to 10 days). It became clear just how deep in the countryside we were when we looked out over the view and could see no lights in the sky anywhere (which is impossible living in London!). The electricity generator cut out periodically too and there were these giant grasshoppers everywhere – about the length of my index finger – which kept landing on people’s heads and making everyone scream…
After dinner we had a chat with Mo about living a Hindu lifestyle. He explained how the religion can be interpreted in a way which suits you, and there is no “right” way to do it, as long as you try to be a good person. My favourite take away from the conversation was when he said, “If you ask a question and don’t know the answer, don’t let it make you anxious. Let the future unfold, the answer will present itself to you when the time is right.”
The morning saw a 5am start so we could go on what was pitched to us as a 25-minute walk see the sunrise – but actually turned into an hour-long rock climb up a mountain. Slightly tougher than expected! The hazy views from a fort at the top of the mountain were beautiful though and totally worth it, but difficult to capture in a picture.
After a delicious breakfast of spiced omelettes, toast and more chai, we got back in the jeep, ready to move on to the small town of Pushkar. There are rumours of a swimming pool at our next hotel, so stay tuned…