Jaisalmer day 3, 12/28/13

In the morning the tea was hot and the courtyard was full of birds, peacocks included.

These birds were cleaning up the crumbs we left last night.

We saw a desert fox from camelback the day before, I think I forgot to tell you. I have not been drinking much coffee while in India. I love the tea here. One thing we have learned during our travels is that other countries do not make coffee the same as Americans. Coffee Americano when ordered doesn’t taste at all like the coffee we get in America.

We had to get up this morning because Pooja and her father were leaving and Sean wanted to say goodbye. I think he is missing hanging out with someone closer to his age.

Someone to chase baby goats with him.

This is Oreo. Oreo eats everything, plastic, the putty around windows, trees, everything.

This is Prithvi. He is the owner/operator of Damodra Desert Safari. The campsite is on land his family owns. He employs 25 people from his village at the camp. These small businesses in this desert environment must be important to the financial solubility of the villages surrounding Jaisalmer. It was interesting hearing a similar story from Prithvi, Manoch, and Lavi. The three business owners we talked to while in Jaisalmer. All three are working to establish businesses strong on customer service. They also want to change the way business in their area has traditionally been done, without the haggling, where you get a good value for your money, so that they deliver a high quality product for a fair price. It was interesting to hear this separately from all three.

We saw more signs of a military presence here than anywhere else except for at the airport.

This was over the door for good luck when we got to 1st Gate.

In an earlier post I commented on the attention to detail at 1st Gate. It was on full display when we arrived a little before noon today. They knew we would be back and had told us they would try to get us into a room as soon as possible when we arrived. The hotel staff had cleaned one of the rooms early for us, so we could get right in. A HOT SHOWER!!! It was the little things that made us feel welcome. There is a fruit basket and a snack basket in every room when you check in, the snacks are all complimentary and there is a nice selection of snacks. There is coffee and tea in the room. There are bottles of water in the room; the hotel staff showed us where they keep the water in the hall and told us to replenish our water whenever we wanted. They made special tea (non-alcoholic) for Sean for his cough. Plus they had a pug! On top of all that, they had the room ready and waiting for us. Oh yeah! It was a great stay. There are two owners Manoch and Frederica. Frederica is Italian and the Italian food at the restaurant benefits greatly from her influence.

After a bit of a rest we decided to visit a havili that was set up as a tourist site. A havili is a merchant’s or middle class person’s house. The Patwa Havili is in the center of the town of Jaisalmer. It was built 150 years ago by a rich Jain merchant, who made his fortune selling opium, gold, and silver. The family had 350 shops spread across Asia and Afghanistan.

It has 6 floors and 66 windows. Jain people consider 6 to be a lucky number.

Each town in Rajasthan has had differences from the others. One of the differences we have seen has been the instruments played by the street musicians. Here is a street musician from Jaisalmer. He was selling CDs that were labeled 99 rupees. I told him I wanted to buy one and he told me it would cost 250 rupees. I told him no way. It actually took some haggling and me walking away and telling him to just forget it before he followed after me saying, “Okay, okay what is the most you will pay?” I told him 100 rupees was the most I would pay. I did buy his CD for that price. It is 62 rupees to the dollar, BTW.

This man came up to me begging for money. I do not think I have explained Cross Cultural Solution’s begging policy yet. We actually had to sign forms saying we would not give money to people begging. I did actually give this man some of the coins I had so I could take his picture. There is a movement in India which CCS explained to us to stop begging in India. Begging is a problem because people use it to support themselves without bettering their lives. People who use begging to support themselves bring their children up begging to help support the family. They have their children begging instead of going to school. This perpetuates the problem creating a cycle of families who have been begging for generations. There are schools, like Vidya as well as government schools, that guarantee access to education for all children. If families cannot support themselves through begging, they will have to find other ways to support their families, hopefully (at least for their children) using education as a path to this means of support. The other thing you hear complained about with respect to begging, is that there is no guarantee that the money will not be used for drugs. The few Indian people we met who did give to beggars only give food, not money.

It looks like wood doesn’t it? Even up close it does. It is actually carved stone.

This is a safe, because back then there were no banks.

These are some interestingly designed locks and door hasps found in the havili.

This is a bedroom in the havili.

This is a door jamb. There is a lovely mix of intricate metal, wood, and stone work throughout the Patwa Havili.

Oh yes, and painted walls too

Do you remember the wrapped leaf thing I ate on Christmas Eve? Here are the pieces used to make it. The name of it escapes me now.

Chaucer (or is it Choser?) is like the game Ludo. A game that is popular in India today.

The Silk Road and possibly this merchants lucrative trading ended with the split of Pakistan from India.

The view from the Patwa Havili rooftop reminded my of Cusco, Peru, with its tiered levels up the side of the hill.

From here we went back to 1st Gate. Jim took a nap, Sean sat petting TT the pug, and I went up to the roof of our hotel where I had tea and pakota (a snack I had never had before but might have to try making at home) – I should get the recipe from Fusion, the restaurant at 1st Gate. Pakota are breaded spiced vegetables that are fried. I don’t even like fried food, but it liked these.

When Jim woke up we went exploring inside Jaisalmer.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Oops, I am missing some of the middle.

The Jain temple is to the right when you enter the fort, so today we went left to see the side we had not yet explored. We kept left and got to the outside of the inner wall of the fort.

That is the rooftop restaurant Fusion and our homestay 1st Gate at about 12 o’clock as seen from the fort. They also have a downstairs restaurant.

How did a canon ball do so much damage that everybody used to use them? I can see if it is used to strike a ship, and the fort of Jaisalmer would be a good place to shoot one from, but… Maybe the canon ball explodes on impact. A huge exploding ball that throws a lot of shrapnel when it impacts would do some serious damage.

This photo shows why Jaisalmer is called the Golden Fort.

Old towns in Europe, South American, and India all have the same economy of space. Before cars there was not the same need to have grid like lanes. I prefer the curvy windy paths, built along the contours of the building site like we found in Jaisalmer.

It was cold. There were not many people out. Ahead are some people keeping warm outside their house around a fire. See what I mean about taking me back to a bygone era? And in a really friendly town in an impressively friendly country!

I asked a man standing outside his shop about this. This is his explanation. There are two outer walls of the fort. The photo above where I am stretching my arms between two walls, those are the two outer walls. People used to use this as their latrine, their bathroom. There was also dirty water and waste, including feces dumped into the streets that ran down into drainage areas. This became worse when people stopped using the space between the walls as a bathroom. There are only dog and cat feces between the two walls now. It was a cesspool of disease, stench, and a breeding ground for insects. A few years back an NGO came in and put bathrooms in every house. This is a photo of one of the old drainage areas.


If you are wondering, the motorcycle ride was my idea. This is a friend of Lavi’s.

We met Lavi, who treated us to a delicious dinner. I am going to miss Indian food so much! I will have to teach myself how to make the dishes I have come to love.