Friday 10th January 2014
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
Train 14865 pulled into Jodhpur Junction at 11.55pm – 6 hrs and 5 mins late. As we stumbled off onto the the platform, armed with our bags we heard the words we were waiting for – a question – ‘Karen Hamilton? Yes? Welcome to Jodhpur’.
Chhotaram was waiting for us- phew! We walked through the station, ducking and weaving around the bodies of people sleeping on the floor – waiting on the next train- clearly delays are very common in India.
We jumped into Chhotaram’s Macguyver-sequel jeep to be greeted by his father who had accompanied him. Wrapped in blankets on the back of the open air ex-army jeep we took the 20km roller coaster journey to our new home.
As soon as we arrived we knew instantly the long ordeal had been worthwhile. Greetings exchanged and bags deposited on the ground- were welcomed by Chhotaram’s mother who pressed friendship bracelets and bindi upon us. This was a true Indian welcome.
Even though it was almost 1 am, the family made us tea and a very late dinner of home made millet bread and vegetable curry., that the Rupee Room in Ayr would struggle to compete against. Sitting around the fire in the kitchen we chatted and ate .By 1.30am our plan for the next few days were taken care of, relaxation time, a village safari and a tour of Jodhpur City highlights.
We were shown our room, a basic but cute mud hut with everything we needed- lots of blankets for the long cold Rajasthan nights.
As the sun peered through the windows the next morning we are awoken to a cacophony of moo’s and laughter so we got up to meet the rest of the family. We played with those laughing children, drank tea with the grand parents, helped the brothers with their internet queries before heading on the village safari. (John works in IT and Karen always volunteers his services!)
The safari was literally ‘wild at heart’, out in the true country side of Rajasthan. Chhotaram’s drove us off road, crossing railway lines all in search of wild life. It was worth it as we spotted several animals, including peacocks, deer, black bugs (horse +cow hybrid) turtles, cows, goats and sheep.
We visited many family homes in the village itself- including potters where we tried out hand at making a pot- safe to say Karen will never make a potter but John had potential.
After a fantastic day we headed back ‘home’ for some food, Karen was invited to help cook and made some chippati- those years of rolling out shortbread came in useful. We sat with the family and ate together. Then the entertainment begun- Karen was invited to dress in the sari and John with a turban- the newest Bollywood film stars below.
Since we enjoyed our 1st night so much we decided to extend our stay by 1 more night. This place was special, and the beauty of this trip is to stay where we like and leave early from where we don’t- this is our journey.
If you are reading this and considering a trip to India, we cannot recommend Chhotaram’s Homestay enough, check it out: