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  • Calvin Chong
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    Fragment memories of a 19...
    March 1 - by Calvin Chong
    Summary: Fragment memories of a 1992 made-movie, City of Joy flickering in my subconsciousness mind when I made an inaugural trip to India in midair. How is New Delhi (ND) going to portray itself as comparison to Calcutta? New Delhi has every traits of Calcutta but definitely not a City of Joy. The city generates 130 tonnes of dust traps by the high moisture content across the Indo-Gangetic plain and compounded by the uncontrolled populated vehicles ‘Co’ emissions. To put it bluntly, ND is a bad place and a terrible place to live. Hazy, dusty and dirty like any others worst polluted cities in the world. Is a blessing in disguise that we only stayed a night in ND housed in a 5* luxury hotel before heading to a rural fresher-air Rajasthan regions on a long and winding desert road trips. From the bird's-eye view of Rajasthan, it gives the generic impression as godforsaken desert place on the planet. Dusting off the sandy screen of fabric, you'll find myriads of people, diversities of big, small creatures and plants thriving in this scorching heat day and chilly cold night of unforgiven desert environments. Is a magnificent enchanted trips in Rajasthan. Beside overwhelming by all the sound, taste, smell and desert dust in its air, we also learned the Indian rich history cultures through the rise-fall transition periods of different era empires and kingdoms. The Rajasthan's Thar desert trip is by far my best liking. Our doc organizer chose one part of smaller scale, lesser tourists infested Jaisalmer desert to venture instead of the popular touristy Sam desert. This part of desert sand dunes may not be panoramic as Sam desert but it provided cozier peacefulness with lesser crowds in a sense, and also last thing you want in your wish list is a 20 thousands tourists cramped together with 10 thousands camels on one pathetic sand dunes (guide's joke during the Thar's desert festival). The camel ride was bumpy on the butt, lucky it didn't take long to arrive the designated sand dunes spot. During sunset, warm rays combed the surface of the sand dunes, thus silhouetted the people and camels against its sky. Sitting on the highest top of sand dunes while watching the sunset provides solace of serenity in oneself. We were later welcome with an eyes feast of Rajasthan culture music and dance cum campfire dance in the center court after the camel sunset watch ride. The dinner was family style cook food. The chef did warn us one of the dish is super spicy. I did hesitate at first after the previous tormented masala dish experience, but my spiciness seeking tongue just can't resist the temptation --- hit me with your best shot, Mr. Hot Spice. On top of all, nothing beat the Tesji desert trip. If Jaisalmer desert trip is smell of everything commercialization packed in one package. Then Tesji desert trip is truly a raw deal. We initially thought of visiting the popular SAM's desert on the 2nd day evening but gave up the ideas again after caught view of a coffee-table photography book during our breakfast. We were awe by the pictures in it, and it didn't take long to make up our mind in this unplanned and last minute decision trip (this is what I like about meetup group travel than the standard tour agent). It was also strongly recommended by the Jasmine Haveli's owner as well. So we hired a four-wheels jeep and set off to this road less traveled part of Rajasthan's Thar desert. Along the desert route, we caught a glimpse of spotted eagle, black-footed fox, antelope; learned about a beautiful flower Shiva plant. We visited an indigenous “desert-people” settlement. Their house used to built with muds mixed with cow dungs (I assumed), but with strong supports from the local government, majority of the settlements life have improved drastically. Mud-houses converted to brick one, water-hole now runs with pipes connected to an electric pump and light in the night supported with a generator. Though life is still pretty tough and harsh in this unforgiven desert regions. However, the desert children jovial welcome smiling faces reflected otherwise, in this adversity desert environment. Is consolation to know the settlement children are being educated in the community as well and at least some of them would have a chance to break away from their current poverty cycle. The jeep driver cum guide also engaged 2 desert people from the settlement to cook us the dinner under a temporary wooden setup shed on a small sand dunes. The whole atmosphere of desert-cooked dinner encircled the small campfire setup, obnubilated under the starry-night blanket in the middle of nowhere desert; spiritually brought us to another level of consciousness. Of course provided you are able to stomach some desert sands in your desert-cooked food and ignored the countless of "The Mummy" creepy beetles crawling around the area and your feets. The entire Rajasthan trip would had been a pleasant sensual trip except one little dramatize "crying game" incident played out during the visit of Pushkar's holy lake. It supposed to be a normal sightseeing visit. The religious ritual ceremony caught us by surprise and we gamed for it anyway; didn't realize the Brahmin priest is pretty forceful on the donation part which caused some uproars (and one tearful case) among the group. In the end, it always the humans' greed that tarnished the purity form of religions. However, contemplating alone on the edge of the holy lake did provide some serenity peace in one's soul to forgive and forget. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and so the Rajasthan trips. The last stop summarized the happy ending of our final leg in Udaipur, aka Venice of India before heading home sweet home. Forget about the Rajasthani massage unless you want the smell of “cooking” oil engulfed your entire body. Of all, nothing surpassed peace of mind than sitting on an open-air rooftop restaurant seeping my cup of morning tea, while gazing down the placid glistening lake and warm ray hues bath the picturesque maze of narrow streets and alleys of Udaipur; somehow subdued my wandering heart at peace to sum up this journal --- Best time of my life! Finally, kudos to our Rajasthan trip organizer, a general doctor in practice. It's obviously not easy to organize a trip for a group in Rajasthan to say the least; less being a doctor as a professionalism. Nonetheless, as a professional doctor accompany as a group lead. You know you are in safe hand if any health issue arises, especially to a country where its sanitary is below par. Snippets: • You ought to adopt a macro mindset approaches to view India-Rajasthan so to find its inner beauty. Subjecting micro securitization on Indian, in some way, blinded your sense and sensuality • 7 different energy-levels stranger participants. Each comes with their own agendas, either seeking forward next chapter or closing old chapters of their life; somehow brought us together in this trip, one way or another, by our intertwined past and present lives or karmas. (An extract context of my roommate’s thoughts). • "It's a pretty painful era throughout ancient India history." Quoted by an artist participant. Every ancient ruin of corners and joints fortresses portrayed a fascinating, intricate hand-crafted colossal structures and paintings, but under every walls and stones; I only sense --- sorrows and pains.
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