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rglongpre’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 22 Jan 2008

Location: Manvar

MapAnother early morning rising with time to get a few morning photos of Maureen and her flowers, my lady of the flowers. After breakfast we began the longish drive to Manvar. We passed huge caravans of military vehicles going in two different directions. Big tanks and mortar guns were heading south towards Jaisalmer and it looked as though a complete camp was headed north and west towards Bikaner. We passed a number of military installations that were in the ready state. Pakistan is only thirty kilometres away from the road we were travelling down. Of course, there are strained relations between the two countries, a heritage of the Great Partition that came with the British leaving India as India became independent. We also passed a flock of sheep crossing the road which provided for a great photo opportunity as did a large herd of camels by the roadside a little later on.

We finally arrived at Manvar, a desert resort, in the early afternoon. We had a small lunch at the main resort before boarding a jeep to drive further out into the desert where our tent was waiting for us.
The desert was fascinating. We walked and walked in the scrub lands as well as on the dunes for almost two hours. While walking we got invited into a rudimentary home for a local family of grandmother, parents, children and one granddaughter of two months. Shocking to think that people live this was as a matter of everyday normality. Two of the father's sons as we saw, were working for the tent resort, one as a camel rider and the other as a waiter-porter for the guests. We were amazed that we were the only guests at the resort for the whole afternoon. We took another walk just before sunset along a different route and met a number of men heading towards the camp on foot. They were to be our musicians for the evening. I was able to get some great sunset photos in the desert.

Time for the entertainment and still the other guests hadnít arrived. We had a one and a half hour private folk music and folk dance performance before the guests finally arrived. The haunting melodies were a perfect match to the surrounding darkness and the fire that served as light for the concert. Though we were the full audience, the passion in their music and their movements was real. One young man, likely in his twenties, played something similar to spoons while moving with athletic grace in time with the music adding his energy to that of the music. His energy soon fed that of his fellow musicians who reached deeper into the music to make themselves warm in the very cool evening air. While watching this incredible performance, we were served all kinds of delicious appetizers as delayed supper because of the lateness of the guests.

Finally, they arrived. We gave up the circle around the musicians and went to the dining tent on the top of the hill and watched the musicians perform a shortened version of their concert for twenty-five others. After a late supper and the end of the music, we returned to our tent and played some cards in our luxurious tent before calling it a day.