India is full of hopeful Lotharios, and no place has more of them than Rajasthan. On the bus to Jaisalmere I was beginning to worry that maybe I was being rude by reading my book and avoiding chatting to the man next to me. But when he suggested that, as his wife was away at a nieces wedding, I would maybe like to go back to his all my worries departed and I renewed my efforts to ignor him. Seriously, he was plenty old enough to have been my father, chubby, balding and talking about his wife - does he ever really think that is going to work? Sadly, my troubles were only just beginning…
Admittedly, I do think that by trying to get off the beaten track I do bring some of these troubles on myself. I was attempting to get away from the tourist hoards by heading to Khuri, a small village about an hour from Jaisalmere where you can organise camel treks into the Thar desert. I turned up and I was the only person staying in my hotel (which was a circle of mud huts), which was nice in a way because they dragged
a bed outside for me so I could sleep under the stars.
The plan was to go for an overnight camel ride into the desert, camp on the dunes and then return the next day. I explained to him that I didn’t want to go alone (giving my usual spiel about how my fictitious husband wouldn’t be happy about that - it’s amazing how many lies you have to tell). He nodded and smiled and said he’d make some calls and see what he could arrange, returning after dinner to say that I would be accompanying another couple the next morning. Dawn arrived, along with the camel man but noticeably lacking in other people. Humm…
The next 24hours were spent listening to him regale me with tales of all the women who had come on treks with him to live out their Arabian nights fantasies. Maybe there are some women desperate to ride off on a farting camel and jump the first moustached bag of bones they see. But somehow I doubt it. Luckily he was all talk and drank himself into a slumber pretty quickly (including for 5hours over lunch - so not much camel riding
then), but it still wasn’t the best experience. It got worse when he insisted we stop at his village on the way home (for four painful hours), where his (seven month pregnant) wife seemed to be under the impression that I had indeed acted out my desert fantasies - she spoke no English but her miming whenever his back was turned spoke a thousand words. Eventually he took me back to my hotel to get my bags, where the owner just laughed at my complaints and the camel man had the cheek to ask for a tip! Some stuff you just can’t make up.
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