It’s not everyday that some beautiful 25 year old yoga master in a Monster snapback pulls up in an Audi A3 soft top.
He asks where we’re headed, and deters us from our original plan of Jodhpur. “The Gods and the sun collide here”. Swoon. It’s not hard to convince us to go off the beaten track.
It seems it is never as easy to get anywhere as people make it out to be. It’s always “just go straight and take a left” but it’s never that simple. Today we made a beautiful mistake. We make a wrong turn somewhere, and end up in a tribe where the woman wear beautiful nose rings and speak a language different to anything we’ve heard.
A village untouched by foreigners who very rarely come across Royal Enfields, let alone a GoPro. Obviously lost, they name areas we might be going to, trying to help us remember so they can point us in the right direction. The whole village comes to help. They think we’re the coolest kids on the block and ask me to take a picture of them to remember.
Two hours out of our original route, we arrive at Kumbahalgarh and are welcomed by a runaway pig. Desperate to free himself from his inevitable fate, he crosses the street without looking both ways as we all know we’re supposed to do. He chose to cross the street in front of us. A pig jumping out of nowhere, the breaks on the wrong side of the bike, and already four hours of driving, it’s a miracle we didn’t hit the deck. His owner throws his arms up in relief as we skid out of the way, only brushing the desperate bastard.
As if fate brought us here (or the beautiful yogi), it was the Kumbahalgarh cultural festival at the 36 kilometer fort. As it wasn’t safe to leave our bags bungee corded to the bike, we lug them throughout the festival looking about as touristy as it gets. There’s music, dance groups, and people dressed up everywhere. The grey fort is suddenly dotted with neon ants.
Indians and Westerners alike warn you that India is dirty, smelly, and some of the locals are out to scam you. If you’ve read my blog at all you know that not once have we felt any of that to be true. The highways are smoother than most western roads. The rubbish on the street is being eaten by cows/goats/dogs, or being burned during the night for heat. The showers haven’t been great, but no worse than in Thailand and the locals have been the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever come across. Ever.
Until we got to Jodhpur.
Now, let me be clear. Everyone has different experiences and I wouldn’t want my story to effect anyone’s choice of coming. I’m also not saying that people in Jodhpur are inherently any worse than people anywhere else. But from the moment we arrived it smelled like poop, the trash built up like June 2016 in Corfu, and the hostel man tried to rip us off.
Like Mary and Joseph, we got to a hostel and asked if there were any rooms available. One worker said yes prematurely, to which he was given a sharp look by the boss man. The boss asked if we had a reservation (we didn’t), and then claimed that everything in this hostel was booked, but he ran another one up the street. While Chris looked at the room (we learned quickly to check the rooms before handing over any information), I go online to check. They had at least eight room available at the original cheaper place, but we were lied to so to put us in the more expensive rooms. I bring the man over, show him the proof of availability, and he tries to cover his tracks. I’m not having ANY of it.
The next day, we try to exchange money as it is the first time we have felt burdened by the currency change. After a long morning coming up short, we go home for a siesta. Not long after we’re settled into bed, someone fumbles with our lock and tries opening our door. Thank god we’ve been using our personal lock instead of one provided to us by the hostel where they have a spare key. They can’t get in, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to get in through the window (until they see shadows of people inside and they leave).
The shopowners only say hello to sell you something, and the drivers stare into your eyes as they honk just to piss you off. Maybe if I wasn’t a hormonal wreck with saddle rash it wouldn’t bother me. But I am, and it does.
The truth of the matter is, I believe that we created this. The scammers of Jodhpur weren’t always this way. Tourism made them this way. They saw the tourists and the uneven distribution of wealth in the world, that we could afford to be ripped off. The inequality of us being able to go there and gawk at the filth, and be able to retreat back to a cosy hotel. Because all the other small towns not infested with tourists are not like this. They embrace the differences and want to share their culture. They want to practice English, know where we’re from, and how we’re enjoying their country. I can’t vouch for all touristic areas, but thus far this is my experience.
The Blue City was hard, but the beauty of the motorcycle is you can up and go anywhere at any time. It’s five hours to Jaisalmer through the desert and I’ve had five hours of a low key crunchiness in my mouth from sand. I’ll tell you how it goes.