04.12.2013 - 04.12.2013
Of course, most people who know me are aware that I'm not currently slogging up mountains in Nepal. They may or may not know that I'm actually on an organic farm near Jaipur in Rajasthan, India, doing something very similar to WOOFing for a week. I apparently seem to still be in the mountains according to my blog because I'm laboriously typing up and editing diary entries written on long train or bus journeys. I don't like doing things out of order, but I would like to write about more immediate things. I'm hoping that I'm at least writing about India by the time I leave! I'm scuppered at the moment as I'm on a farm with only mobile internet available. So no photos from anything other than my rubbish phone camera, and no regular entries for this week.
Today was the first day on the farm. We arrived late last night after a seven hour train journey, and after being swarmed by rickshaw drivers, and then some young guys who wanted to practise their English, we got a tuk tuk that sped us into a dark, chilly night, got slightly lost, and then left us at a mostly pitch-black farm thrumming with inexplicable rave music beneath fantastically glowing stars - with no idea where to go. After ringing the owner, who seemed to have been asleep, a man appeared in the doorway of the nearest building and gestured further down the path. A large thatched hut with a kind of courtyard and several rooms awaited us. In the kitchen we found two WOOFers sat in wicker chairs by a fire in a clay/earthen stove, and a cold dinner of potato curry, dal, rice and chapattis waiting for us in a cupboard. We warmed the chapattis on the stove whilst hearing about the farm (and apparently scream-inducing icy showers) from our companions, both of whom left this morning. They told us that hardly anyone speaks English and that timings are sort of fuzzy - someone would wake us in the morning.
Someone did - one of the WOOFers, later than expected. We had a kind of gruel with curd for breakfast and then started work - raking and carrying away old straw from a hut being demolished, and collecting and passing more for a new one being erected in its place. A gruff old guy in a shirt and dhoti appeared in charge of the arcane process of thatching. It's true - hardly anyone speaks English and we got instructed mainly through sign language. Not sure we helped much - a lot of standing round, waiting to be gestured at.
This evening we ate incredibly spicy mutton curry with the owner, his nephew and his friend, Kri, who spoke more English than anyone. Though of little use, in I'm glad for some smattering of Hindi we learnt in Varanasi. It's good to be able to say 'what is that' even if you can't understand the answer, and to be able to say, 'good food!' Both lunch and dinner we ate the Indian way, entirely with our hands.
I'm glad we are now doing something other than sightsee. If we can't converse with 'real Indians' we can at least work alongside them. And after our week here, our plan is Jaisalmer, followed by Rishikesh and an ashram for me. And then we fly to other shores. The end of our time in India feels too close - hence the sudden plans to not spend ALL our time as complete tourists.
The scheduled mountain programme will resume after I've finished being rural!