Sunday, April 01, 2007

One day of Hitch-Hiking in Jaisalmer

It all happened when I was on my solo trip to Jaialmer. I reached Sam, famous for the sand dunes, a little late and decided to return after spending an hour or so but no transport was available for Jaisalmer and I wanted to go to “Kuldhara”, a national heritage site. Suddenly a Jeep appeared from nowhere, but the driver told that he will only go to some village only 5-6 kms. Down, towards Jaisalmer. I asked for a lift and suddenly a sub-Inspector of Rajasthan Police came and obliging the officer the driver agreed to take us further down to some 30 kms. from where we were likely to get transport for Jaisalmer. From here the driver changed his plan and decided to go to Jaisalmer. Now I asked the driver to drop me at the Kuldhara road, as I was to go to Kuldhara in each and every case today itself. I told them that I am a tourist and will go to Kuldhara, they were surprised (the driver and the SI). The officer gave me a lecture that this was not the way to go places in Jaisalmer as I was not supposed to find a transport for Kuldhara from the highway and further back to Jaisalmer. He advised me to got Jaisalmer and hire a Taxi for this visit, a good discussion ensued about Hitch-Hiking. I simply gave two arguments, one that I don’t have enough money to hire a taxi and second that if you don’t have money and want to explore places; you have every right to try all tricks. Any way they dropped me at the turn and when I asked the driver about the fare he simply waived his head and "not from you buddy".
I took a deep sigh and looked at Milestone reading “Kuldhara 9 KM”.
Started walking towards the heritage site. I had hardly covered 1-2 kms that sound of a jeep filled me with anxiety (?). I tried for a lift but the jeep did not stop and went past me. I took a long breath and watched the jeep speeding, 100-200-500 meters, brakes, the jeep stopped and back-gear lights came on I ran towards the jeep and stood speechless by the driver window. They enquired all sort of things from me even doubted that I am a tourist and that too alone. Any how they buzzed and obliged. Some how I found some space to hang on to the outer frame of the jeep as a family with dozens of ghoonghat wallah (veiled) women was traveling in this jeep. Again the discussion repeated itself. The driver again said "not from you buddy". This driver was friendlier and even asked me to come back on the road within one hour as he was to return to Jaisalmer via same route and I was not likely to find anything back to Jaisalmer after that.

I entered Kuldhara and got lost in its charm, visited every corner of the village, all the water wells, streets and temple also talked to a local Bheel for some time to get info about the locals. First one hour and then one more passed, I realized that I have missed my lift. Suddenly a maruti car with a Gujrat no. entered this heritage site and the couple in the car went around the village quickly. I waited for them at the exit gate, again found some space on the back seat. They were very excited to learn the adventures of hitch-hiking. They dropped me on the highway and went away towards Sam. It was already six and Jaisalmer was still around 20+ Kms. away From here. The Jeepwallahs were all right I was all alone and did not see a soul for the next half an hour. And suddenly I heard the faint engine sounds of a Rajdoot Motorcycle, again excitement. The sound seemed to be coming towards me from the other direction and after 5 minutes a man with a Kasmiri topi, riding a khatara appeared. I waived my hands and he stopped. He was going to Jaisalmer. He gave me 100 advices (he was a teacher) but dropped me right on the gate of my hotel. The experience was really very adventurous.