Monday, June 18th 2012, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India.
There comes a time on each trip when we travel as a family when Kelly may feel a little “low”. Too much male energy, forced abstinence from some of our creature comforts, and the remoteness from friends and family play their toll (at least this is my analysis – maybe I am the principal culprit of such low moods!) This morning Kelly hit the wall that is India. You can fight it, but you will never win. At some point you either have to give in to it, or exhaust yourself trying to control things that are outside your control. I think Kelly ran up against the latter.
Distances are far here – we’ve spent many hours on the road. Last night our A/C was minimal at best and we didn’t get a great night’s sleep due to the heat.
There is no doubt about it, extensive travel in India isn’t easy. You can probably come to the country and pick and choose to do a few things in five star comfort, but if you want to travel far and wide, and choose not to insulate yourself from the “real India” you’re going to face an assaults on your senses and your sensibility.
This is a country of paradoxes – beautiful palaces and colorful fabrics astound your eyes as you pick your way through the piles of cow dung in middle of the street (and try to avoid the cows that may be blocking your path). Vast openness of desert and piles of trash and litter like no place else I’ve seen. Electricity, 3G data, internet access and frequent power cuts. The heat, the noise, the salespitch, the smells – it is unrelenting. This is India. Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it.
If you can let yourself go and even embrace the unfamiliar, there are rewards to be had. Most people here have far less than the least well off I know in the US or Europe. And yet they seem to be much happier. Wealth may be desirable, but is not the only measure of success. Kids on the street are happy to find an open space and to play with a cricket bat and ball; and they are happy to share these with you.
Our hotelier seems genuinely concerned for our well being. When Kelly needed to be alone this morning and chose not to have breakfast, we later found out that in empathy he refused his breakfast. The second we stepped back into the hotel after walking around Jaisalmer all morning, he wanted to check on Kelly and make sure she was alright. He even insisted on gifting her a saree, just to try to cheer her up a bit more.
It is hard not to look around here and realize how much we have. And yet we always seem to want more. I am not advocating socialism, or renouncing all my worldly goods to become a hermit. But sometimes a little temporary discomfort may not be the worst thing. Of course, it is easy to say that when you are not the one in a funk.
PS. Glad to report that Kelly seems to have been able to overcome the deep funk after a few hours. Hopefully that was the low water mark for the trip.