Dessert By the Desert

        A quick bullshitting session with IILM faculty and then we’re off to Shekavati in Rajasthan. Goddamn Air France says they’re “expecting my bag tomorrow afternoon,” whatever that means. I’m so angry as I remember the business class dude getting $400 on the spot for his delayed bag that I’m determined to make Air France pay. My target’s $300, but this proves hard to achieve: even the upscale Americanized mall we stop at features few articles costing more than 5,000 rupees (~$12). I end up intentionally buying some of the priciest articles I can find, even resorting to the name-brand preums and eurotrash stylings of United Colors of Benetton. Other than ridiculously orange pants with Jim Morrison and the caption “pink marijuana” (whatever that means) on the back pocket, I doubt I’ll wear most of the clothes I’ve bought very often. Even wasting an hour and a half and buying over 20 items, I’m only able to waste ~$250 of what will hopefully end up being Air France’s money.
        Rajasthan is extravagant from the start. Even though my womanly spree has put my car’s arrival an hour and a half later than the others’, we’re still greeted by a 5+-person band playing traditional Indian music. We’re working with a Penn kid names Anand who’s doing a solid job founding Dia, short for Dreaming of an Indian Awakening, to promote his home country’s culture and (just speculation) lay the groundwork for a dream of winning an important Indian election.
        After arrival, a snack is a full meal of little portions of a bunch of different curries. Next excitement is a camel ride, or rather riding on a 2-wheeled card drawn by a camel. Not a problem: a short climb and I’m on the camel’s back. They’re a lot bigger than you’d think, and I’m reminded of an oversized, ugly horse with sclerosis. The cart’s wooden frame makes a shitty saddle, but the ass soreness is worth it to be able to say I’ve ridden a camel. Unfortunately, I can’t get it to spit at anybody.
        There’s an interesting stop at a Hindu temple. Removing our shoes and rinsing our hands, we enter to find my new favorite idea of a god incarnation: it’s a porcelain monkey standing very seriously and looking quite godlike. Unfortunately, the priest tending him has some sexism: he paints orange dots on my and Steve’s foreheads, but won’t for the girls, handing them the paint to do it themselves.
        We’re all stuffed, but we can’t turn down food this good, especially when it’s Indian served by candlelight on the sand dunes of the Thar (sp) Desert. There’s even villagers performing traditional Rajasthani music. To avoid feeling totally like royalty, we spend some hours setting up the computers upon our return to Piramal Havel, the ancient mansion-like estate complete with peacocks that we’re calling our home for the next few days. I definitely don’t think we’re in Cameroon anymore.

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