Rajasthan Differently

March 25 to April 08 2024

Day 01 Monday March 25, 2024 Nice - Doha Boeing 787 + Airbus A 330

Day 02 Tuesday March 26, 2024Doha - Delhi - Khandela 250 km 5/6h

Welcome at the airport by Abhishec, an assistant of Raj Sharma and Girver the driver who will turn out to be much more than a driver.

Flower necklaces and personalized pouch, water bottles. Never before seen in this type of trip: in the car a nice touch available to passengers: a tray with dried fruit, sweets, biscuits, paper tissues, wipes, disinfectant gel. Only Incredible Rural India practices this kind of refinement.

The car is a spacious and comfortable Toyota Innova Crysta.

Having the habit of deciphering looks and facial expressions, we are reassured, the two people who welcome us are clear in their heads, their way of being and in their soul.

It often happened to us that we perceived from the first glance that the driver would not be suitable, but we never dared to say "no we don't want this driver" from the first day. Unfortunately, this has always been detrimental to us. This time from the start we know it will be good.

Long exit from Delhi as usual, traffic jam.

  1. Puce  Lunch at Highway King in Neemrana: delicious vegetarian sandwich and paratha mix with curd (dahi). We start light so as not to rush the intestines.

Visit to the village of Abhishec and his family in Sangtera near Kotputli. We are 156 km from Delhi and are already diving into deep India and its reality far from globalization. Abhishec takes us through his childhood memories with the sacred pond in which people bathe during certain ceremonies to obtain healing, the village school more or less in ruins, pretty decrepit and abandoned havelis.

Sapna offers to tattoo Nadia's arm with henna. Nice introduction. We see how poor the people of this village are. There is no or little income, no or few amenities. We are invited to tea. Thanks to Santra, Sapna Saroj, Shivlal, Avika, for their welcome.

We leave Abhishec at a bus stop so he can return to Jaipur.

Continue to the Shakambhari Mata Mandir temple in Gurara. The Brahmins invite us to come closer, just to ask for a donation. We are used to visiting temples and religious sites around the world. Hindu temples are the only ones where we are always asked directly to donate money.

Small climb to reach the Muni Ashram where the ashes of Sri Atma Muni Ji Maharaj rest. Unlike the Brahmins, the manager of the place Jagdish Dirvedi offers us tea and cakes. We discuss his mission within the ashram.

Late arrival (7 p.m.) Khandela

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Castel Khandela, well located in the city, with an incredible view from the roof over the region. See reviews in the hotels menu.

Day 03 Wednesday March 27, 2024 Khandela - Roopangarh 170 km 3/4 h

Early departure. It is too early to tour the village which seems very authentic.

Village tours are more than curiosity: they are an opportunity to discover and understand an entire socio-economic system. There are still a lot of useful, even essential, small jobs in India that existed in Europe before the era of globalization. For example the barber. All Indian villages have one or more barbers. While there are hand shavers and electric shavers, why do so many men still go to barbers? Tradition ? Why did the tradition disappear so easily in our countries? What is behind the tradition? What would happen if men stopped going to the barbershop? Thousands of families without income ? The disposable razor versus a disposable man?

Opportunists and Darwinists will say he could find work in the razor factory. It's true. But who does this enrich? The factory still has to be installed in its own country !

Kandela is a stopover where it would be good to stay for at least two nights. Girver offers to help us discover unforeseen events.

Direction Lohargal. A village embedded between two mountains. Visit an ancient baori (stepwell), then visit a traditional government school. All costs are paid by the government, tuition, uniforms, supplies and even a lunch. 80 students aged 2 to 13 are spread over 8 classes. They first learn Sanskrit, then Hindi and a little English. With Sanskrit they discover or reconnect with the roots of Indian culture. Not just the grammar and texts, but the traditional values that made India what it was before it sold its soul to globalization. All the students came to greet us by touching our feet to be blessed. Then they did mediation, recited a poem in Sanskrit and sang a prayer. It was very moving. We brought a supply of pens and candy which we shared, asking Girver and the teachers to do so, so that the tourists would not be associated with "one pen, one toffee".

As we leave them we ask ourselves lots of questions, what is the future of these children who have been taught their roots, while the rest of India boasts of technological modernity?

Is this a way of maintaining the difference between castes and preparing the future “servants”  of the elite? How many children at this school are truly gifted and could aspire to careers beyond those for which they are destined ?

At the entrance to the village, visit the small temple of Hanuman, with its accommodation center for pilgrims who are sometimes very numerous.

We continue by car then on foot towards the center of the village. Parking required on the left at the entrance to the village.

The main street is dotted with shops selling pious objects, pickle sellers, souvenir and fabric shops, and small private temples. The business of religiosity.

Girver buys pickles for his family and makes us taste an Amla pickle. Very good.

Short visit to the small temple dedicated to Ganesh, run by Deepak Surami and his wife Manju.

Arriving at the top of the street we discover the Sun Temple - Surya Mandir, impressive with its decor and the crowds flocking there. A huge pool where many pilgrims bathe. Men in shorts, women in sarees. Temple tower. Girver suggests accepting the blessing of a Brahmin who places a small red and yellow bracelet on our arm for a donation. Right arm for men and left arm for women. It was Girver who had to remind the Brahmin of the good arm for a woman. On the way back to the car we pass a procession of women, all dressed in red sarees, singing as they head towards the temple.

  1. Puce Road to Roopangarh; Lunch stop at the Riddhi Siddhi Resort restaurant, vegetable noodles.

Arrival at Roopangarh fort at 4:30 p.m. We are going to meet the people of the villages that we met in 2016, to give them the photos that we had taken. If it touches people to see that we thought of them, it creates a lot of excitement among adolescent males who become clingy, arrogant, even disrespectful.

We find the tea seller: Nand Kishor and the bracelet seller: Vimala and Komal her daughter, the biddies and betel seller who was very moved, the oil mill, the drinking water waitress, still folded in her small window.

Faced with the rude insistence of young assholes, we return to the hotel earlier than planned. This will be our last time in Roopangarh.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Roopangarh fort.

Day 04 Thursday March 28, 2024 Roopangarh - Sursara - Tilonia - Candelao 240 km 5/6h Road to Candelao. En route, visit the village of Sursura and the Tejaji mandir or Snake temple. Tejaji was a warrior who lived in the 11th century. He fought many battles, often alone against hundreds of enemies, which seems to confirm that it is a legend.

While trying to recover cows that had been stolen, he was bitten by a snake which led to his death. He was reportedly cremated at the place of his death where a temple was erected.

According to the legend which has come true, when a person is bitten by a snake he would be cured by coming to do a poja in this temple.

Country road to Tilonia. On the road Girver stops us at the village of Bhojiyawas to make us meet farmers and their welcoming families: Prabu from the Jat community, Ramashaver from the Gujar community, Augama from the Gujar community. We chat a little: the three are retired and say they are having a wonderful time.

They have nothing left to do other than rest, meet, chat, drink tea, smoke, play cards. Their children take care of everything.

On the other side: while before the siblings helped each other, cultivated larger plots of land together as family land, today the children are leaving the land because they no longer want such hard work, they are selling the land in splitting them up to each have their share, those who remain only have small plots which sometimes barely support their family.

Prabu invites us to drink tea on his farm with his family. In the villages, it is only the elderly men who wear the turban, a small white belted jacket and the white dhoti (fabric which drapes the legs). If women still wear (for how long?) the saree, young farmers wear t-shirts, jogging pants or jeans. The image of turbaned men, like that of women at the well, will disappear definitively from Indian landscapes. We are happy to have witnessed these traditions.

11:15 a.m. Attempt to visit Barefoot College in Tilonia. Barefoot college is an Indian NGO created by Bunker Roy in 1972 to overcome the difficulties encountered by poor farmers in the region: access to clean water, electricity, healthcare. Coming from a family belonging to the Bengali elite, he became aware of the poverty plaguing India at a very young age. He started by working as a volunteer in associations. A worker in the construction and maintenance of wells in Rajasthan, he wants to help the people in the villages he meets. The government gives him a sanatorium in Tilonia.

Having understood like most of us that it is women who are the underground force of India, also because they are more stable, they stay more in their region of origin, he decides to use grandmothers and mothers power to carry out its project of access to clean water, in particular by creating cisterns which collect rainwater, electrification of villages using solar panels that women learn to build and to maintain.

What contributes to strengthen the power of women within communities. This was not done without problems.

Since then, unemployed young people and disabled people have come to join Barefoot.

Having become famous and supported by wealthy international sponsors international sponsors, the NGO has developed branches in many countries such as Madagascar, Cameroon, Zanzibar, Belize, Guatemala etc...

In the workshops, local crafts are also made at prices often higher than those found on the market.

We tried to visit Barefoot college in 2016. At the time you had to book online using a Google form, if you wanted to have lunch with them you had to pay a deposit in dollars. What I have done.

When we arrived, there was no one there, everyone had gone by bus to visit the Taj Mahal. Nobody warned us. As for my deposit, no one saw my registration, but the amount was deducted.

This time we meet Brijesh Gopta coordinator and Ram Niwas in charge of communication and head of the puppet theater. A meal is offered to us for $20 per person, for a vegetarian canteen meal. We decline.

Ram Niwas gives a detailed introduction to the foundation and Bunker Roy. We discuss humanitarian work in India, he ends with a short two-minute puppet show.

Visit to some empty workshops, it's lunch break. Passage by the store and some purchases.

Brijesh asks us for visiting fees: 1000 rps per person, even though we saw nothing and the workshops were empty. I refused and left a small amount for the principle. My deposit stuck in my throat. When humanitarianism rhymes with business!!!

On the road there are many companies selling marble and granite.

Late arrival in Candelao: 6:15 p.m. Walk in the village, distribution of photos that we took 8 years ago. The little girl who practiced meditation before going to school has become a teenager, very surprised that we found her.

As in Roopabgarh, this distribution of photos triggers a lot of excitement among the boys. Why only boys ?

We observe on each of our trips that males aged 10 to 30 always need to get involved in what is none of their business, to interfere in the relationship we have with people. It's quite painful.

We end up thinking that there are villages that are better to visit during school hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The village well is no longer accessible. It is in the middle of a lake. Where does all this water come from?

We will no longer see women oscillating between earth and sky with their brass pots balanced on their heads. We will no longer hear them laughing when they bring up the pots filled with water. We will no longer see these majestic gestures which resembled a dance when they brought up the ropes and pots from the well.

We won't hear them anymore taking advantage of the well to discuss village gossip, family or marital problems among themselves. The increasingly widespread reservoirs and running water in villages have murdered the social function of the well, just as supermarkets have murdered the social function of small neighborhood businesses (butcher, baker, shoemaker, newsagent and tobacconist) by Europe. Even worse since social networks and cell phones. Long live progress...

The pumps still allow you to see women grouping together, chatting and carrying metal pots on their heads.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Candelao Garh

Day 05 Friday March 29, 2024 Candelao - Pipar City - Jodhpur 90 km 2/3h

Last morning walk, in a dead village or one different from what we had known.

9:45 a.m. Road to Pipar city Visit to Yasine Shahabuddin's fabric block printing workshop (Dhabu). It is his son Nasad Ali who makes the visit. We distribute the photos taken in 2016. The workshop has expanded, more people work there. The youngest son Azrudeen Chhipa is in the learning workshop. He learns the trade. New: it is possible to do a one-day or several-day course to learn block printing. Possibility of accommodation and meals.

Visit Pipar Bazaar distributing photos taken in 2016. Girver seems to take great pleasure in playing the role of intermediary. He calls out to people, looking for who each photo corresponds to. It becomes a game, an attraction. Luckily the kids are at school.

New encounters, sellers of donuts, bananas, a tchai whala who offers us tea, Ravi Upadhyay's tobacco store and its shilom, fabric stores, tinsmiths, tailors, shoes sellers with magnificent leather slingshots.

We find Gisharam the old street seller of fritters and lassi, who was very moved to be brought to him a photo taken 8 years ago. He offered us lassi and tea.

Road to Jodhpur. Arrival at the hotel around 4 p.m.

5 p.m. Departure for the descent of the blue city. Not having time for lunch, Girver offers us delicious samosas. He takes us to the parking lot of Mehrangarh Fort for a walk down through the Blue city.

Huge disappointment. Since 2009, almost all the houses have been transformed into restaurants, guesthouses, shops, travel agencies with Bishnoi Jeep Safari, rafting, ziplining, etc...

It is through this type of thing that we see the side effects of mass tourism, because 100,000 individual tourists in backpacks still add up to a mass.

Stroll through the clock market.

We take advantage of being at the hotel to try typical Rajasthani dishes. The daal bati churma which must be ordered 24 hours in advance, the disappointing Papad ki sabji, the horribly spicy ker sangri.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Devi Bhawan

Day 06 Saturday March 30, 2024 Jodhpur

In 2009, we stayed at the Mandore Guesthouse, run by the Gehlot family whose father managed a small local agency: Poly Travel. The family had a small NGO that looked after a few Bishnoi villages. When we stayed in this guesthouse, we could participate in the visit of the Bishnoi during the village tour to bring mail, medicines, tools. It was authentic. The Bishnoi were not expecting us, there was no business.

All you had to do was sit in a corner and observe village life. Sometimes a family invited us to visit their mud hut, or to visit an old man who was weaving a carpet for the local market. This year, we wanted to do it again. Mandor Guesthouse was full, so we opted for other accommodation. The agency called on a Bishnoi jeep safari seller.

Bishnoi Jeep Safari made in Jodhpur:

  1. Puce Bishnoi suggests that we will meet people from this very special community.

  2. Puce Jeep suggests off-road, therefore Bishnoi on their territory away from the roads.

  3. Puce Safari is a misnomer as it is generally associated with tracking wild animals. We're not going to hunt down humans!

So all this is an illusion which tends to make us believe that we are going to experience an adventure, "Great Explorer" style.

Departure around 9:00 a.m. The jeep is driving on a asphalt road.

  1. -First stop in front of a permanent house, with a reconstruction of a Bishnoi hut at the bottom of the garden. A man was demonstrating the opium ceremony to tourists ahead of us. Our turn comes. We are told how to make an opium-based brew. It lasts 5 minutes. Then they put a turban on my head and a skirt in front of Nadia, to take a selfie dressed as Bishnoi. And what’s more, you have to make a donation! Hard !

  1. -Second stage, a little further still on an asphalt road, a house on the side of the road with parking where other cars are waiting. A man explains to us the basics of weaving bishnoi rugs, 5 minutes and offers to visit his store. We refuse, he takes it badly...

  1. -Third stage, a little further on the same road, stop in front of a house, where a potter starts running when he sees us arriving to set up in front of his wheel and simulate the creation of a vase. In his shop there are only earthen elephants, statues of gods and goddesses and very colorful vases for tourists.

We are disappointed by this ridiculous trick. It is insulting to travelers and insulting to the Bishnoi.

Question: Bishnoi means 29. These are the 29 rules that this community is supposed to respect.

- Rule 4 invites us to respect santoshi, that is to say, to be satisfied with what we have. Who are these Bishnoi who make cinemas on the side of the road and get paid for ridiculous demonstrations?

- Rule 13 invites us not to belittle, denigrate or mock. What are they doing making fun of visitors so much?

- Rule 14 invites us not to lie. What are they doing participating in this charade?

  1. -Rule 24 says that the Bishnoi cannot consume or sell opium! Who are these Bishnoi who are doing fake opium ceremonies to scam tourists?

  2. -Who are these tourists who go hunting for Bishnoi?

Seeing how disappointed we were, Girver contacted Sanjay Gehlot with whom we had seen real bishnoi in 2009. He refused to give the coordinates of his villages. We understand it. The way it's going, it's better that way. We understand. We stayed at the hotel in the afternoon and took advantage of the swimming pool, having no desire to plunge back into this mass tourism.

  1. Puce Lunch at Devi Bahwan  delicious veg sandwich

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Devi Bhawan

Day 07 Sunday March 31, 2024 Jodhpur - Ghanerao 150 km 3/4h Road to Ghanarao. We meet Jain pilgrims on the road. Not very cool! Girver attempted to obtain information about authentic Bishnoi villages.

It is no longer allowed to visit Bishnoi villages, apart from the three demonstration stands that everyone will see, in order to protect the Bishnoi from the damage of mass tourism. We get it, it's a good thing.

Meeting with shepherds. Two very old men and a woman take care of a herd of sheep and goats. Many animals have just been born, including a camel. Gigaram from the Gurjar community leaves with his herd in search of some green leaves. He can take all day, under the blazing sun.

He is equipped with a plastic water bottle wrapped in a damp rope case to keep it cool and a small bag containing two chapatis. As soon as they leave the enclosure, a truck stops and buys a few animals from him.

10:30 a.m. stop at Chotila, on NH 65 which goes to Pali. The temple of OM Banna or Bullet Baba is dedicated to a biker and his motorcycle.

In 1988, Om Singh Rathore, while drunk, collided with a tree. He was killed instantly and his passenger Narpat Singh was seriously injured. The motorcycle is seized by the police who take it to the police station. The next morning, the motorcycle was found at the scene of the accident, apparently without human intervention.

She was taken to the police station again, two days later the motorcycle was still at the scene of the accident. Since this mystery, the motorcycle has been revered as well as its driver. The Royal Enfield Bullet is displayed in a display case. All the people who pass by stop to obtain protection for their journey. Some come from far away. The tree in front of the temple is that of the accident. It is venerated, and surrounded by scarves and colored threads to obtain protection but also the fulfillment of a wish. The power of the collective imagination.

Stop in the village of Sonai Manji, a small typical village with men playing cards under the banyan tree, the barber, the shop that sells chips, candy, laundry detergent, sauces and some vegetables. There are also old and young people who smoke opium. Opium seems to be a common practice at festivals, ceremonies, weddings, or for pleasure. Only women don't smoke. Someone has to keep their feet on the ground!

We often stop for pleasure: a nice landscape with particular light, a street scene, a countryside scene, like when women in colorful sarees work in a field of golden wheat. Saree drying on a bush etc...

We stop in Karda, attracted by a particularly colorful scene and meet Jamina and Lary who are preparing the land to cultivate organic cotton. As in many villages, they tell us about the exodus of young people and men, the splitting of properties, the loss of family heritage in the more or less long term. They are the only ones to cultivate a cotton field which shrinks as the heirs leave and claim their share.

Stop at the Shree Ashapura Mataji temple in Nadole. No photography allowed.

Arrival in Ghanerao around 4 p.m. At 5 p.m. Girver and the fort guard show us around the village. Very picturesque village with its Jain, Hindu and Muslim neighborhoods. Many havelis are abandoned in poor condition, but also many modern houses whose owners have left to make their fortune elsewhere. Many houses are empty, closed, almost abandoned. There are many baoris in the village in poor condition.

Visit to the cenotaphs of the Maharaja’s family. Street scenes, shops, small trades. A peaceful village.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Ghanerao Royal Castel

Day 08 Monday April 1, 2024 Ghanerao - Dhariyawad 230 km 5/6 h

Stop at the Choraya Jain Mandir temple in Charbhuja, The villagers celebrate the last day of Holy; there are groups of colorful men everywhere. A teenager, Anita ventured into the street, she is colorful too.

Stop to immortalize a small wheat field in its stone enclosure with two women Raku and Manga in colored sarees harvesting. The light is beautiful, the scene is as bucolic as possible. The men watch, the women work. Raku in a red saree, Manga in a yellow saree.

Stop at the village of Mohan Ram Ji ka Guda to participate in ceremony reserved for women (Desha Mata) 7 days after Holy. They are all from the Meenar community. The women offered us some blessed fruit.

In the village the pump has replaced the well but here the women still gather around the pump and still carry the metal pots on their heads.

As it is on our route, Girver takes us to visit the temple of Eklingji which we had already seen and of which I had had bad memories. This time, soldiers in combat gear guarded the temple, weapons on their chests. I was the subject of a brutal search by a soldier who wanted to show me that he had power. So I avoid to go in.

On the street leading to the temple, we discover a tchai wala which serves tea as in the old days in earthenware cups. We notice that almost everywhere, even with street vendors, you can pay for tea or sugar cane juice with a smartphone application. Soon we will have tea and cane juice delivered by “Uber Eat”.

In the next stand, a seller serves Bhang, a euphoric/relaxing drink made from cannabis, roots, stems, leaves. It seems legal. Customers consume in front of us. The seller lets us photograph the process.

Visit to the Sas Bahu temple, already seen another time. Some less well preserved erotic bas reliefs which recall Khajuraho. Many newlyweds come to be photographed by teams of photographers and their assistants. It was difficult to move around without disturbing the productions.

  1. Puce 1:45 p.m. stop at Cheerwa Mohanpura at the Jammu Himachal Dhaba restaurant: delicious veg pakhora, plate of tomatoes, cucumber onions, garlic naan.

Stop in a farm in the village of Kedariya meeting with Vainii (woman in orange) who prepares tea, Mangilai (without turban), Daru (burgundy and green turban), Diroba (red turban), Gori (multicolor saree). They offer us tea.

On the farm there are only “retired” elderly women and men. Young men are in the city. We hear again the same complaint of the separation of plots, of the breakdown of assets, because young people are no longer interested in living in the countryside and working 7 days a week from morning to evening.

In a few years who will grow market vegetables? Who will grow wheat for chapatis? Food industry lobbies like us???

Monsnato/Bayer/Syngenta have taken over the seed market, particularly genetically modified cotton seeds, which has caused the ruin and suicide of many farmers. They are trying to have a monopoly on the exploitation of Neem. They are flooding the market with carcinogenic pesticides, at the origin of the proliferation of cancers in Europe and throughout the world, with the blessing of our governments.

If India prides itself on being in full expansion, it is also the prey of those who participate in this expansion.

Long life Vandana Shiva and humane and organic agriculture.

Stop at the village of Neemdi. Discovery of our first opium poppy field, controlled by the government. From this moment, we will see them every day until Tordi Garh.

According to what people say, the opium is intended for pharmaceutical laboratories and medicine... When the poppies are in flower, a government agent counts the number of heads which will yield the precious latex. Knowing that there are always some which escape control and which will be sold elsewhere for other purposes. The field is dry, the harvest has taken place. Using heads that have not been harvested, the owner explains to us the process of obtaining opium.

Long road through a dry forest partially on fire, the Seta Mata forest reserve. We are stopped by a police roadblock who checks the vehicle, takes photos of the number plates and the trunk. The identity and contact details of the driver are recorded.

Due to upcoming national elections (June), road traffic is highly controlled in order to avoid the transport of money intended to corrupt voters. Paradoxical scenario in a country where corruption is a national sport at all levels.

Arrival in Dhariyawad around 6:35 p.m.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Dhariyawad Heritage

Day 09 Tuesday April 2, 2024 Dhariyawad tribal village tour.

Departure for a tour in villages by jeep with Pawan and Hava Cinda. On the road meeting blacksmiths from the Meenar community in Bhandla. They make the tools and weapons that the peasants need.

Visit to a Gov Upper prima Gadwas primary school (DHA) in the village of Chatpur. We observe that the teachers who are supposed to teach English barely know how to speak English...Do they really have the necessary background to give these children every chance ? This again brings us back to equality of opportunity in a country which seems to cultivate inequalities, while refusing to do so.

Visit to a village made of mud houses, not very welcoming. People seem to be afraid. The children run away, hide under the beds, the women turn their heads away, the men are almost absent. Our guide will explain to us that this is not inhospitality nor aggressiveness. These people are so poor and live in such conditions that they are ashamed. May God protect them.

Tilonia is nice, but before going to Colombia or Africa, there may still be a lot of work to do in India...

Two young girls pose: Sonia, then another Reka.

Visit to a dam.

Visit to a primary school: the teacher chases us on a motorbike to ask us to come visit his school. Same uniform, same traditional education, same poverty as elsewhere. We met well-behaved, respectful children, unlike those who harass us in the villages. Nadia gives a French lesson on the board, hello, good evening, thank you, how are you...We are surprised by the ability of these children to adapt to another language.
Many seem very quick-witted.

One of the children catches our attention, he looks sad, unhappy, prostrate in comparison to the others who look so lively, so alert, so smiling. What is behind this look of distress? Suffering linked to material or nutritional poverty, psychological shock, sexual abuse, a cry for help? We ask what happened to him. No one seems to have noticed that he is doing badly...Given the context we do not insist.

The last time I saw this kind of look was at Mother Teresa's orphanage in Calcutta.

Stop at the edge of a river under a banyan tree to have tea with cakes. In this context it is embarrassing.

Like almost every time we stop somewhere, some asshole on a motorbike stops, either to get involved in something that doesn't concern them, or to take a picture of us with their cell phone, unlike us, without asking our consent. This time when they approached, the driver of the jeep sent them away.

Visit to the private school sponsored by the royal family. High-end uniform, made-up teachers speaking fluent English. What a contrast with government schools. It's time to leave, meals are not offered here. On the other hand, there are school bus minibuses to take children home.

  1. Puce Lunch at Dhariyawad Heritage veg Sandwich

City tour with Girver who helps us understand everything we discover. We always take pleasure in finding these lively streets where people from the villages but also from very distant villages stroll to buy basic necessities. We find the usual shops of old India: fabric and saree merchants where families who are going to marry off their daughters flock, tailors who make shirts and pants much cheaper than those of the industry, shoemakers who not only repair shoes but make them, much cheaper than those in industry, jewelers who make gold or silver jewelry on demand, merchants of coquetry that women love: bracelets, necklaces, nose ornaments and earrings, confectioners who make delicious coconut and cardamom burfis on site, grocers who sell everything that can be eaten, even what seems inedible, vegetable and fruit sellers , milk and curd sellers, barbers, hairdressers, household appliances shops where you can find small generators, fans, televisions. We are starting to see computer repair shops. This is the first village where we met so many women tailors. We met Manjou and Maya.

Meeting with a homeopathic doctor who has his practice in one of the pillars of the entrance gate of Fort Dhariyawad, Doctor Vimal Joothawat. In his pharmacy, he has all the basic mother tinctures. He prepares the dilutions and granules himself. We discuss our practices and my little knowledge of homeopathy and naturopathy. He tells me what product he used to successfully fight COVID. We would greatly need such a well-trained and attentive homeopathic doctor in our country. If he knew that in our country, thanks to Macron, homeopathy has become part of so-called ineffective or even illegal practices. Doctors are no longer allowed to train in homeopathy.

I leave him some products that I had with me.

Meeting with the daughters of the Maharadja who participate in the management of the fort: Chandrika Ranawat and Diyya Ranawat. No wonder the fort is so well kept, they have strong personality.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Dhariyawad Heritage

Day 10 Wednesday April 3, 2024 Dhariyawad - Bijaipur 160 km 3/4h

Departure  09:10 Stop to meet a farmer, Dana Ram who is turning his field with oxen and a plow in the village of Dabi Khera, as was done in my village when I was a child. The family suggests having tea.

In front of the house, cannabis plants. According to Girver it was birds that dropped seeds. Dying of laughter.

On the road, in the village of Mundla, we pass a school demonstrating, shouting instructions to encourage people to vote. In India as in France, abstentionism seems to be a bane. We can understand...

Desert landscape, everything looks dried out. The peasants seem to live in great poverty, in huts made of woven rushes, surrounded by earth and cow dung. In one of the villages a woman renew the ground in front of her house like many others on the occasion of the Desa Mata festival.

She mixes earth and cow dung and spreads it like cement.

Visit to the Manpura school with very endearing students. The teacher is alone and overwhelmed. Women work at the harvest in the wheat fields.

In another village, Bohera, other women are busy renovating the front of their house, always with earth and cow dung.

Sugar cane juice stop, delicious.

Stopping in the village of Mangalwar we are attracted by the deafening sound of speakers and the vision of women dancing while twirling. One of them dances with great grace. It is the ring ceremony: between three months and a year, the spouses are promised. The families checked the couple's compatibility and validated the marriage. As they are promised, no one will be able to stop the project. The promise cannot be broken.

I have never seen so many poppy fields since my trip in Afghanistan (1970) !

  1. Puce Lunch stop at the Radhe Krishna hotel in Bagund ; veg pakhora and mix parotha

Stop at Deori to visit a workshop that makes jaggery from sugar cane juice: no work because of the price of sugar cane. As it is very sweet during this period, it is bought more by juice sellers, which increases its price. We discover that fresh jaggery is more or less malleable (soft), which tends to deduce that that found in the solid state on the markets has been modifie d (added product) in order to modify its weight at the time. advantage of the seller.

Arrival in Bijaipur around 4 p.m.

At 5 p.m. we start a tour of the village with Griver. People are unwelcoming, unsmiling. The only exception is ironer Bardijen Dobi who always works with a coal iron which weighs very heavy.

We were attacked first verbally then with objects thrown at us by children 12/13 years old.

Faced with our reaction, adults intervene by saying that they are just children who play. No wonder the welcome in this village is so horrible if the adults think that kids can throw shoes at strangers.

We do not recommend visiting this village.

We return to the fort no longer wanting to visit this inhospitable village.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Castel Bijaipur

Day 11 Thursday April 4, 2024 Bijaipur - Tordi Garh 250 km 5/6h

Departure at 9:07 a.m., it is gray and 28°. It's Desa Mata Day.

Stop at a potter in the village of Bariyas. His name is Maden and his wife Kanku. They make magnificent red earthenware pots streaked with white that the women carry on their hips. He works on an electric lathe.

Stop at the village of Akola to attend the Desa Mata ceremony which brings together the women of the village. They are dressed in their most beautiful red saree embroidered with gold. They all bring a plate of offerings. In the absence of a temple, they use a tree which symbolizes the divinity and projects their prayers towards the heavens. Here again they unwind a thread around the tree to make a wish. Among rural women, the caste barrier is less significant. These ceremonies are often multi-caste.

Stop at the village of Kadera to see the market on the main street, meeting young women returning from Desa Mata. They invite us to drink tea and introduce us to their parents who are oil millers.

Arrival at Tordi Garh around 4 p.m. We are slightly destabilized by the somewhat rapid welcome from Om Ji who seems under pressure, the presence of two groups of Geeks who we see leaving in a jeep for the Tribal village Tour, in mini shorts, low-cut mini-dresses, and Bermuda shorts, because it is hot in the tropics., and the rather neglected state of the hotel.

The new generation of travelers in recent years has been exporting their way of living rather than discovering or adapting to other ways of living. It's thanks to her that we find red bull, burgers, pizzas, wifi almost everywhere. This could partly explain why many young males become disrespectful in villages. When it's time to get into the jeeps, the excited groups are accompanied by a guide who shouts like a beginner summer camp leader. Initially we mistook him for a member of the hotel staff.

Tour of the village with Girver. A dark and deserted village without much interest. A few shops like in most villages. Girver introduces us to a candy called Peda.

At night the Geeks decided to party: their guide pushed them to drink, the excitement quickly rose followed by hysterical screams. The music is deafening until 10:30 p.m. Why do people need to scream and get excited so much? In such a quiet village, the contrast is painful.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Tordi Garh.

Day 12 Friday April 5, 2024 Tordi Garh tribal tour

Having been frightened by the behavior of the groups the day before, we do not want to do the Tribal Village safari, much less in a jeep. Ultimately, as with the Bishnoi, the jeep only serves to create the illusion of adventure. We are as we are without needing to play Indiana Jones.

We go to meet the ethnic villages by car with Girver and the hotel guide Om Ji. The first village, Balapura, is extraordinary: the people are friendly and welcoming. We have the privilege of discovering women who go to fetch water from the well while balancing pots on their heads. These pots weigh between 20 and 25 kg when full. They generally carry two plus the small one which is used to bring water up from the well.

The more mature ones seem more discreet or shy and cover their faces as soon as we arrive.

The young, less fearful, Vasa (Rain) poses for eternity. In a few years this image will have disappeared from Indian landscapes.

The villagers welcome us into their house and offer us tea. In one house, the matriarch began to sing and dance. The family offered us the traditional breakfast: corn porridge with buttermilk.

The second village, Bagria, named after the Bagriawokidhami community, was also impressive: village of a community related to gypsies, of the caste of untouchables (harijans) with a sulphurous reputation of violent, dishonest, outlawed alcoholics, without hygiene.

We felt less insecure there than in certain villages with arrogant and clingy children and young adults.

Girls and young women are particularly beautiful in this village.

The third village Jareli is a bit of a routine stroll. We feel the side effects of jeep safaris.  It is the village of breeders and milk merchants.

I don't know why, iit could be either because I'm not in shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops, or because Girver wanted to make a joke, the children took me for a doctor who gives injections. They started to be afraid of me.

To defuse the phenomenon, I suggested treating one with essential oils. I began to brush his arm with a few drops of shelled Marjoram, which is an oil with a pleasant and harmless smell. All the children in the village then wanted me to “treat” them.

The fourth village is called Kera Malooka Nagar, the worst village with Bijaipur, to be avoided. We feel again the side effects of jeep safaris. A village apparently wealthier than the others. Probably from an upper caste... Young people aged 12 to 20 aggressive, arrogant, disrespectful, poorly educated, so annoying that we ended up turning around. Without interest. The paragon of the new smartphone generation.

Small compensation, OM Ji invites us to visit his house and have tea.

To end the day storm and rain.

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Tordi Garh

Day 13 Saturday April 6, 2024 Tordi Garh - Karauli 210 km 4/5h

Village tour with Om Ji. Just as deserted and sad as the day before. Visit to the potter where you can try the traditional wheel. Tordi Garh is really uninteresting outside of a few surrounding villages. Two nights are too much.

Road to Karauli. Stop at Raghunathpura for a delicious cane juice.

Stop in  to observe a shoemaker who makes leather shoes with a reputation for being strong. 500 Rps per pair. There are traditional shoes, ceremonial shoes, wedding shoes, women's shoes with embroidery, slippers.

If we were impressed by the number of poppy fields, we were even more impressed by the number of wheat fields. This part of Rajasthan is in full harvest. While some use combine harvesters, others still harvest by hand; it's the women who get into it. They prepare a meal for the family before leaving. They will work for 8 hours under the blazing sun, with a bottle of water and a few chapatis.

From the beginning to the end of our trip we were captivated by the courage of Indian women, who take care of children, husbands, in-laws and earn a few rupees to support the family.

All along the route we meet thousands of pilgrims (2 million five hundred thousand, according to the organization). A human tide that goes on foot from Agra area to the Kaila Devi temple, in the Karauli district, 200 to 280 km depending on the starting point.

Women, children, elderly people, disabled people, men of all ages, under a blazing sun, 28°/30° in the morning, 40° in the afternoon.

All along their route, sponsors (local traders and local celebrities) set up tents to allow them to rest, offering meals, drinks and sometimes ice cream.

We saw many pilgrims whose feet were damaged from this long walk. We did not see a health center.

We stop several times to meet them and talk to them. They left on April 2 and plan to arrive on April 8 in Kaila Devi, 7 days to complete this journey.

During one of the stops, a refreshment stand attendant was rude to Nadia, Girver put him back in place so virulently in front of everyone that I saw the bastard crash like a mold.

It's impressive to see the courage of these people who make this sacrifice to obtain better karma, or the fulfillment of a wish. On several occasions I found myself thinking that if people capable of such courage and self-sacrifice did the same thing to improve the world, as only the one around them, perhaps we would not be here.

Arrival in Karauli around 4:30 p.m. Around 5 p.m. we go for a city tour with Girver.

The young woman at the hotel reception is worried and warns us against the insecurity that reigns in Karauli. Girver reassures her...

We cross the Muslim quarter and its wood, rattan and bamboo sellers. We visit the Madan Mohan Temple during the puja. Religious manifestations sometimes take a hysterical turn which can be frightening. At the beginning of the evening we meet the Maharanee who receives her guests. Woman with strong personality. 

  1. Puce Dinner and overnight at Bhanwar Palace

Day 14 Sunday April 7, 2024 Karauli - Delhi 270 km 5/6h

Road to the airport. We stop to meet farmers who thresh wheat with an old, efficient machine. They work as a family, men, women, children.

Our route always runs alongside these courageous pilgrims who go to Kaila Devi.

We saw a huge wheat field with dozens of women harvesting with sickles, supervised by men who scream when they talk a little too much or raise their heads. We go to meet them, which worries the owner and makes the women laugh...

When the old owner dies, perhaps his sons will want to sell the huge property to each recover their share of the family wealth. Let's imagine that it is an agri-food lobby that buys the land, as is the case in France with the Chinese. We will see large combine harvesters appear, which will replace the women and men who worked in the fields. What will become of all these people, even if they were only paid 300/400 rupees per day?

We wish India not to change too quickly, and to change in the right places, so as not to resemble us. If progress is attractive, it seems important to evaluate its benefits and disadvantages before it is too late.

  1. Puce At lunch time, when we arrive at the restaurant, a man calls to us in French: it is Raj who has come to meet us. Great moment of emotion, of exchange, of sharing. We express to him our joy at having chosen his agency to make this trip which is one of the most beautiful we have made. Girver knew about it but said nothing. Hard moment of separation at the airport. The return to our reality is not easy.

Day 15 Monday April 8, 2024 Delhi - Doha - Nice


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