Rajasthan in the month of May could in no way be an exciting proposition. The sun overhead and the body all wet with the trickling sweat kept questioning our decisions to undertake this daunting trip. Yet we strode forth on four wheels, with nervous excitement of any moment running into what we had set out to search. The windmills of Jaisalmer.
‘The journey is more exciting than the destination’, someone once said. For us the route to Jaisalmer from Bikaner was the least exciting as it could be. A long road, unending, lasting forever and ever, playing with us, teasing us at every turn, laughing at us as we craned our necks to see if the windmills were in sight.
Even the locals found us amusing as we repeatedly questioned people “kya aapko pawan chakki ka raasta pata hai” ” kya aapko pata hai hume pawan chakki kahan milegi” , ( Do you know the route to the wind mills?)( Do you know where we will find the windmills?).
They did not even attempt to hide what they felt about us and our crazy adventure. They could not understand our fascination for something as mundane and uninteresting as a windmill.
Maybe we should have asked them where the ghost of Jaisalmer or the Chudail of Banglapur could be found. That should have stirred and excited them and would have found us more worthy of their attention. But alas. We were the modern day explorers in search of technological advances of modern science.
Still no windmills in sight. Very disheartening.
“Windmills” someone said
“Yes yes”, our hearts leaped like a tide
“You left it behind. Did you not see it as you passed. You must have missed it”
The tide hit the rocks and was lost.
Missed it! Missed it !!! How could we when all the time our eyes looked for nothing else. Did we miss it assuming it to be a desert mirage ?
Well, we had left it many a kilometres behind, but undaunted like Don Quixote, we marched back, depriving the desert heat the pleasure of winning one over us.
The road back was filled with nervous excitement, our earnest effort of not missing it again. Left, right, left again our heads rolled on our necks. Where are they? The Google pictures had promised us some fantastic sights.
So where ?
And then it happened.
There It Was. Far along on the horizon stood majestically the windmill. The shear grandeur of the towering structure touching the sky with one hand and holding the earth with another filled our hearts with humble awe.
And suddenly they were everywhere, all around us.
As we drove closer to them they kept getting huge and huger. (pardon the wrong grammar) , but that is exactly what they seemed as we approached them. What would it be to touch one of them, to actually feel them, to be close to them.
Could we get that close to them? We could feel our excitement creep into the car. She too had suddenly gained momentum as if wanting to be the first to reach it.
And then almost without warning there stood a huge windmill just across the road, in the field. The Google pictures had not cheated us. They were just like the pictures only more alive. We stopped our car , could not even wait to find a shaded spot for the car. It didn’t seem to mind either.
Rajiv armed himself with the camera while the rest of us almost ran into the field.
The field had thorny bushes, camel shit (probably even human shit) and burrows. Large and small burrows. Sometimes dodging and sometimes succumbing to these obstacles we approached the windmill, which with every step kept getting larger and larger. Having succeeded in locating the wind mills we each explored it in ones own style. As for me with one hand on my head preventing my upturned head from dropping my cap I approached this creature slowly, cautiously. The long blades of the windmill went round and round. A funny thought occurred to me, wouldn’t it be fun to ride one of them. I have seen them do it in a movie, can’t remember which one. But these blades were very smooth. Ooh…it would hurt and in all the wrong places too. Bad idea…
Rajiv’s shrill and sharp whistle pierced my ear. Pierced is the word you would use too if only you ever hear him whistle. We were being summoned back. It was decided that it was time to get more adventurous. To return in the night and shoot a time lapse.
Scary thought for me. Did Rajiv know about the burrows, large and small burrows. Who lives in burrows in the desert and comes out at night! Does not require rocket science knowledge to answer that one. Voicing my concerns of safety was met with the answer “You can stay in the hotel”.
‘Try leaving me behind’- I thought. Fat chance
On our way back we were asked to memorize the path taken. Too difficult for me . Was always poor in directions. As we went further we came across a beautiful road and guess what ! The windmills were right there at the edge of the road, and a field of them everywhere around us. This was even more beautiful than the previous one.
I tried convincing everybody how this was even better than the other place. We would not even have to memorize the route. It had better looking windmills. They were newer. They were better painted. They were many in number. They were…..They were…..
The only way to shut me up was to agree with me. So this became our new spot.
And guess what …..No burrows, large or small. This place was all rocky. And believe me lying down on the uneven rocks had its own problems…but of that … some other time.
After an early dinner it was decided to leave at around 1.30 in the night from the hotel.
Rajiv thought it best to inform the hotel people about our plans. We did not want them to think we are running away in the middle of the night without paying the bill. It was fine by them.
By 2 am we were in the car arming ourselves with not just our cameras and gears but a flashlight, water , biscuits and a swiss knife!
“A swiss knife, Rajiv, what for?”.
“For safety, what else, I have you to take care of”
“And the others”, he added.
Blam! Not that romantic…
The streets were empty. At 2 in the night what else could one expect. But suddenly we realized we were chased by bikers.
Now that was definitely scary. They seemed to have appeared from no where. They were trying to stop us.
Rajiv waived the hotel keys on their face. They slowed down and almost immediately disappeared.
They were touts wanting to guide us to some hotel accommodations.
Nights are always so starkly different from days. The crowd, the jostling and pushing, the noise. The nights quiet, at peace, reconciled, serenely welcoming the lonely to its fold.
The long two hours drive out of the city to our chosen point of adventure was very intriguing. This was the first time I was venturing to do something like this. Excited and happy as I was. We only had two and a half hour before day break, we could not afford any retakes.
The moon was up throwing its light around. The windmills sparkled in the moonlight. The long moving blades was akin to an aristocratic ball, dancing away to the tune of the night.
Sometimes words leave you. How do you explain in language the magnanimity, the aura, the grandeur, the serenity and your feeling of utter humility in the presence of such beauty.
Far away from the city the night sky with its assortment of twinkling stars felt as if descending down to you, to talk to you, for you to reach out and touch it. The tall wind mills, some moving while some that refused to budge, against the cosmic backdrop looked breathtaking.
And me, sitting on the uneven rocks, with Rajiv adjusting and placing his cameras, watched on as the stars rolled over the night.
Deserts nights even in the month of May can be chilly. We had overlooked that one.
With the cameras set and rolling, there was now nothing to do but wait.
Time to get romantic once more. But wait, why was there a feeling of being watched.
We have a past history of attracting unearthly beings. Could this be one of it.
Well soon we heard a couple of earthly men, guards actually,who were placed to watch over the windmills, came over. Their suspicions about us were laid to rest when they were asked to look through the camera.
But why do wind mills need guards, anyway. Agreed they are majestically beautiful but what is there to steal!
The older guard was quick to reply “Did you know that the windmills have a lot of copper stuff inside which attracts thieves as it sells high.”
“But they seemed to be sealed like a fortress”
“Arre” he said, “yeh choohon ki tarah apna raasta doondh hi leten hain, concrete ke darwaje inke liye kya hain.” (Like rats they find their way , even through the concrete doors )
That is why they have to guarded. We settled back on our rock once we were left alone. But there still was an uneasy feeling of something lurking around.
Rajiv insisted on me going back and sitting in the car and locking the doors from within. He could not leave the cameras and go. I refused to budge. Soon the night sky moved on and the early morning light began to shimmer on the horizon and with that the strange lurking feeling diminished.
Our time lapse came to an end and with that our adventure as well.
Our journey in search of the windmills was successful and eventful and also a learning experience of sorts.
Go out, I will say. Leave the confines of your beautiful homes and once in a while undertake such journeys, go in search of anything that might interest you. Don Quixote battling the windmill you hunt for technology within the flourish of nature, like a dragon in his groove you sniff it and shoot it down, but this time with another piece of technological marvel, your digital camera. Believe me, among other things it will teach you to appreciate beauty and also keep your heart younger.
Photos, Video and Article © -Shaily Mudgal