December 17, 2007

Lovely Jaisalemer

The last two days in Jaisalmer have been fantastic. Our stomachs cleared up (knock on wood), the clear desert air helped my asthma, and the hotel we are staying at is warm, friendly, and comfortable. I really like Jaisalmer. While its main industry is tourism, the high season has not yet started, so we have the place to ourselves. It's a small, walkable town whose main attraction is the massive fort that towers over the otherwise flat, featureless desert. The golden, sandstone fort encloses a warren of quiet, traffic-less alleys, where people and a large contingent of bovine still live and go about their daily routines.

We enjoyed the day getting lost in the maze, our biggest challenges squeezing past obstinate cows and avoiding their inevitable patties. We marveled at the intricately carved 600 year old Jain Temples, sat in the town square and watched the shopkeepers half-heartedly pester the few tourists that wandered by, and even found a real coffee. And then, we ate. The mutton curries here are delicious and Z, an ardent tandoori chicken fan, claims that yesterday's restaurant, Treo, had some of the best she has yet tasted in India!

But most of all, we enjoyed the peace and quiet. It must partly be due to the fact that we're out in the middle of nowhere, but what's amazing is that even though the main industry is tourism, with everyone competing for the same potential sale, people are surprisingly hassle-free.

"You buy from me, good for health!" one salesman shouted after me.
"Your health?" I laughed back.
"Of course my health! You want to buy?"

"Come spend your money here. We might even give you good deal" another shopowner yelled. "One thing for sure, we will be happy with your rupees!"

And yet, once I said no, they backed off. Overall, I'm a fan of Jaisalmer.


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