November 14th, 2007 – by: skippyed
Myself and Kim in Jeep ride to villages
Today we had an organised trip to the surrounding villages of Jodhpur to see a potter the weavers and the Bishnoi. Our transport was open sided army jeeps. The trip out through Jodhpur was once again like any Indian city or town, full of colour and movement. The surrounding countryside was dusty with fields being worked by the local villagers in a very traditional way. Our first stop was the potter, we were invited to sit around and watch him demonstrate his pottery skills. He then invited one of us to have a go so Melissa volunteered! It wasn’t as easy as it looked, first you had to get the pottery wheel going and this is done by rotating the wheel with your hand then getting a stick and locking it into the only hole on the wheel and spinning it really fast using the stick.
Well, getting the stick in the hole while the wheel is moving is not an easy task as Melissa found out! Once you get the wheel to a sufficient speed then you can throw on the clay and start your moulding! Melissa did OK; she came out with something that resembled a plate! After the demonstration you were then invited to look around his creations which were also for sale. There was some amazing stuff but I didn’t buy anything because I don’t think it would of made it back home in one piece! Our next stop was the Bishnoi, a tribe of people that are the protector of animals and trees so they are strictly Vegan. We went to the house of an old man who lived by himself, he had lost his son in an accident so his daughter-in-law, who lived in the village, would come over every day and look after him.
Potter demonstrates making pots!
The old man demonstrated the use of a device that allowed him to smoke opium! We were not allowed to video or take pictures of the process as it was against tour company policy. The contraption looking like balancing scales with a couple of skin bags either side that was used to filter the substance. Opium smoking is part of everyday life to the Bishnoi and not considered an illegal drug. After the demonstration we were given chai by the daughter-in-law who then showed us around the house. It was all very open, simply furnished with no mod-cons like electricity or running water. The buildings were made of mud brick with carving of animals and trees. It was a nice insight into how the Bishnoi live and probably much the same for other villages as well.
Melissa has a go at making a pot
We said our goodbyes and moved on through the dusty countryside to our next stop, the weavers. Here we got a demonstration of rug weaving by hand which all very fascinating. They told us it can take anywhere from 10 days to 6 months to make a rug, depending on the size and pattern. Rugs were either woven from cotton or camel wool. The village worked as a co-operative, local market sellers and shop owners would come every week to purchase rugs. All sale proceeds would be distributed amongst the co-operative. They showed us a book where famous people like Richard Gere and other famous names had bought rugs from them. After the demonstration it was time to get our rupees out because like all demonstrations they always end up with a sale! Rugs were laid out and the temptations began! I couldn’t resist, there was a rug that caught my eye, it would look great in my bedroom and it had a wonderful camel design on it so I bought it.
Melissa successfully makes a plate!
After we all spent up it was time to head back to Jodhpur for lunch so we went back to Pizza Hut again after which we packed our bags and was driven in private jeeps to a place called Nimaj Bagh. The jeep ride wasn’t particularly comfortable as I was squashed in the back with the tour guide and Kim. Nimaj Bagh was a small little town and here we stayed in a lovely whitewashed mansion run by a family. We were welcomed by ladies who put red dots between our eyes and sang to us. The hotel was lovely and Sandra and myself got an enormous room which we nicknamed the penthouse suite! The bathroom was bigger than my bedroom at home! Before dinner our tour guide wanted to give us a walking tour of the town. As with every Indian town it was alive with market and food stalls, comings and goings of people, women carrying loads on their heads, cows wondering the streets.
We walked down one narrow street and suddenly we could hear these kids and before we knew it there we were surrounded! It was like running of the bulls in Spain, kids were running from all directions and yelling with excitement! It was overwhelming. You tried to take pictures of them but they wouldn’t keep still and they were pushing and shoving each other as they jostled for best position in front of the camera! I lost count the number of times I was asked my name and where I was from! It was all too much in the end there must of been 200 kids! We walked fast and escaped down another street and after a while they stopped following us! So after another 15 minutes or so wondering the town and watching the locals go about their daily business we headed back to the hotel where we enjoyed music from and IPOD, a home cooked meal and alchohol of which I had some Indian wine which wasn't too bad!
The Bishnoi with one of our group. The contraption he has in front of him is for smoking Opium!