Not in Kansas Anymore

by maxmosher

Actually… no. I will not use another ‘Wizard of Oz’ metaphor. I shall not. I’m trying to get help with that, which is why I’ve checked myself in to the Rufus Wainwright Institution for Compulsive Judy Obsessives. But how to accurately describe what it felt like arriving in the beautiful fort city of Jaisalmer?

I know! I’ll do something really different for me; I’ll put it in terms of ‘Sex and the City’.

I hadn’t expected to have a moment like the problematic part in ‘Sex and the City 2’ when the girls first arrive in Abu Dhabi and marvel at their luxurious hotel and gorgeously-exotic surroundings. We were, after all, on a ‘budget’ trip, and I was prepared for less-than-opulent accommodations.

After waking up to see the sand dunes of the desert out the train window, we had barely finished our cups of chai when Kuldeep, our tour leader, popped into our cabin, looking crisp and clean, as though he had showered. He pointed out the approaching hill-top city.

“Are we staying up there?” someone asked.

“Yes, we’re staying in the fort,” he answered. I thought he was joking.

Auto-rickshaws whipped us from the train station, ascending the hill and through the walled city’s yellow-stone gate. Inside, it was like a European city, a labyrinthine maze of narrow streets, alleyways and markets. Whereas in Delhi everything had felt grey, in Jaisalmer both the walls and the sun were golden.

And Kuldeep didn’t lie: we were staying in the fort, which felt like the top of the world. We raced around the hotel like giddy school kids checking out each other’s rooms as they all had something special: one had a balcony, another a window seat. Ours had a sitting room. Through the stained glass windows, which faced towards the Pakistan border, you could see the surrounding town, a sports field, the odd camel in a backyard.

Eventually, when we had calmed down about our rooms and unpacked, we all found our way to the roof, where of course there was a restaurant, with a meek young waiter (could not have been more than 20) who always remembered exactly what each person ordered. Sometimes you could hear Pakistani fighter jets, creating a ‘Casablanca’ atmosphere. But at twilight, if you looked in the other direction at the rooftops and towering spires of the Jain temple, you could witness another kind of battle: kids playing with their kites, occasionally deliberately entangled the wires in a “kite war” to see whose was stronger.

I did not realize that in the 21st century children still had so much fun with kites. Which is why you should, despite what bed-bound Dorothy says at the very end of , venture past front yard and seek adventure and the unknown.