July 30, 2015

The Sand fortress




Jaisalmer memories.

At the end of a six hours bus ride, watching the city rise in the distance. Rising from the desert, the golden fort looks like a sandcastle, and you wonder if it is even manmade.

Settling in a cheap guesthouse, only to find out it is manned by the best people ever. Hanging out on the roof with Amor (not kidding, that's his real name), drinking chai and watching the sun set on the fortress.

Discovering the streets early in the morning (which is the only time you can do anything, as the rest of the day is scorching hot). Going to the local market to buy breakfast and watching the crowd of men go by – wearing sparkling white dresses and amazing turbans, their features sculpted by the sun set in amber skin. Hearing your own voice saying « Assalam alaykum » at every corner, and hearing old men answering with a soft voice : « Wa alaikum salaam . Sitting down to smoke with them, my hair hidden and my chest bound, so that they call me son instead of girl.»

Making the old ladies laugh as I buy fruits from them. Their hands stroking my hair and pinching my cheek.

Visiting the fort (one of the few still inhabited) and being invited in several houses to escape the heat. The clay walls are covered in small pieces of broken mirrors and the light ripples everywhere, like an underwater lake on the walls of a cave.

Chai, chai, chai. Every new person asking me to sit down and have one. Meeting a very kind man in an emporium. He shows me all the treasures he has collected from desert tribes over the years, and I walk home with the tiniest wood statue in my hand, a desert goddess to protect me.

Waiting at the bus station under an insane heat, and being stared at by twenty men. Regaining control of the situation by pulling faces and taking pictures of them. Parting as friends.

Staying in a small village. The dust flying into the red sun. Sleeping on a bed in the courtyard as it's way too hot to stay inside. Watching the stars, watching the stars, watching the stars, and forgetting to sleep.

Life here is so simple. So delightfully simple. In the terrible heat, there is nothing else to do but sit, observe, drink tea, share stories. I could stay here forever.



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