Seema– She was maybe 7 or 8, and the third youngest in the group of ladies who waited on the sands with bare feet for the tourists to come. And once they spotted a group, they volunteered to sing and dance for their entertainment in order to get a few rupees their way. Her mother was there, along with her sister in law who was holding a tiny baby in her hands. Then there were the three young girls including Seema. The youngest of them was perhaps only 5 or 6. All of them had makeup on with dark colored lips. So young and yet they were here pretending to be so old. Their village was 10 kilometers away from here, from where they’d walk barefoot every day during the tourist season and then make the long journey back in the evening. This was their life, day after day. I wondered if they were happy or maybe even grateful for the things they had. Or was it just a life led in blissful ignorance, the kind of ignorance that let you sleep with thoughts of making it through only the next day.
Guddi-She was so hesitant to talk. She stood stoically, arms folded, silently watching the interactions of her family members with us. I wondered if life was a daily battle for her. Maybe she dreams of a different life, maybe all the tourists that came here in their fancy clothes, with their electronics offered her glimpses of a different life. Unlike her sisters, she didn’t ask for money, neither did she dance or sing. She only stood there impassive, but somewhere in the rigidity of her pose there seemed to be hidden many layers of dreams, hopes, and sadness.
If Jodhpur was blue, then Jaisalmer was golden. Hariram was passionate, I could tell, about his music. His fingers flowed effortlessly over the keys as his voice swam with the raaga. I asked for a picture, and he obliged. He was happy, and he was proud. He asked us where we are from as he saw us linger. He sat there, right below the high gates of Jaisalmer Fort, singing his days away. Meeting him, left me feeling happy. He was making the best of his life, and one couldn’t but help leave with a bit of his enthusiasm for life.
He sat near the stairs leading to the Ramdevra temple. This temple saw people from all walks of lives visiting its deity; Hindus and Muslims primarily. The temple marked the eternal resting place of the Hindu saint Baba Ramdevji, who was considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna by the Hindus, while the Muslims revered him as Ramshah Pir. This man sitting here along with a young boy beside him playing the dhol, sang praises of God. As I stopped to take a picture, he readily obliged by singing and posing for the camera. I smiled and thanked him. He was delighted. I wondered how many people thanked him on a daily basis; and how little we value the effect of those two words.
The first two pictures were taken near the dessert near Sam village, near Jaisalmer.
The third one was taken at Jaisalmer fort, in Jaisalmer.
The fourth one was taken during our journey from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, when we stopped at the village of Ramdevra to visit the renowned place of worship.