After a hiatus of almost two years following the birth of our little one, we have embarked on our annual Bharat Darshan tour with extended family around the Desert State of Rajasthan. As we travel from Pink city to Desert city, from Golden city to Blue city, enthralled by the majestic forts, earthen landscape, scintillating musical and folk art performances and the vibrant Rajasthani culture, this trip around Rajasthan seems to have everything -travel by flight, long road trips, train journeys, rugged and rustic experiences like desert safari and a taste of royal splendour at the numerous palaces and heritage properties - in all a wholesome experience of everything that is quintessentially Rajasthani!
This trip also seems like we've truly come of age in the balancing act of travelling with now two kids and all it's trappings. From carrying an additional check-in baggage to the omni present "baby bag", from waking up at the crack of dawn, not to catch the sun rise but to cook the day's to-go meal for the little one in a travel size rice cooker or lugging an umbrella stroller hoping to wheel the little one around, only to realise that the fort has stairs at every turn, jumping into the swimming pool or utilising other such amenities of the hotel with the older one when all you want to do is curl up on that very fancy and comfortable looking couch with a book- Travelling with kids is more like business trip for parents as you always have to prepare for what may happen next! Amidst all the ensuing chaos, if you still manage to catch a glimpse of the fantastic desert sunset ...taste the delectable local mawa katchoris, or get a good bargain on the day's shopping spoils and have your kids enjoy the folk art performances/puppet shows, you've got a winner...Let's reserve the museums and galleries for another time ....probably when the kids grow up or grow out of our nests!!!!
We are at an unenviable phase in our parenting adventure! While our little one is supposed to be high maintenance, given her age, she makes herself comfortable anywhere, provided her basic needs are taken care of! Whereas our older one who is at an ideal age for travel, hence supposedly low maintenance, has instead proven to be quite demanding! Almost ten years apart, our older one and our little one couldn't be any more diverse in terms of their tastes,quirks, and mood-swings!! Of course, it immensely helps to be travelling with the extended family of parents and relatives, as your little beasts can be unleashed on them as well...and thanks to them, we could enjoy our morning walks minus the kids or go on zip lining adventures, but just as you begin to breathe a little ....your little one is promptly handed back with a soiled diaper!!:-))
Through out the State of Rajasthan, the camel is a ubiquitous presence. From camel rides to camel skin merchandise and camel prints on arts and handicrafts, the ship of the desert best represents the state, at least from a tourist point of view!:-)
As always, we look for something to read when we travel, so imagine my delight when I found a new release from Tulika publications that's set in Rajasthan! Replete with illustrations draped in vibrant hues and colours that present an authentic Rajasthani setting, this book is a visual treat in itself! "When Bholu came back" by Kavitha Punniyamurthi and pictures by Niloufer Wadia revolves around a camel named Bholu and his owner Beni Ram. Finding no use for a camel as a means of transport in modern day Rajasthan, Beni Ram tries to sell off his beloved Bholu, only to have the camel return back to him as he refuses to go to his new master. Just as Beni Ram and Bholu spend the night in the desert pondering over how to find work in a time when village carts are preferred over camels, hordes of tourists arrive in jeeps with banner "Taparia camel safari". As the travellers get ready to climb onto the camels for a ride around the sand dunes, a little girl and her mother are left out as the safari team falls short of one camel .......and no prizes for guessing who got roped in to take the little girl on the most exciting ride across the golden sands...!!! So meet the newest camel on the "Taparia Camel Safari".....Beni Ram's Bholu! Who knows may be we rode on him at the Desert Safari near Jaisalmer a couple of days ago!:-)))