7.10am. Alarm has been going off for 40 minutes now. Not recharged yet. Need more sleep but our driver is waiting outside, wake and shake is on the menu. The locals are very pleased to see us. They are intrigued, watching our every move. Raj tells us we are the first white people to stay at this hostel. The owner is very proud to have us stay with him.
Mungo, our driver, drives barefoot and holds a huge sulk on his face. If he was happy, he did a grand job hiding it. Destination Baba, we drive along dirt tracks the Indians call roads, stopping for chi whilst Raj sorts out some business deals. We pass monkeys, cows, goats and the occasional wild boar. Driving is highly physical but a fascinating way to explore this country. It is a pleasure to absorb the local scenery and the local people. The weather is lush, the sun hot on my skin. Enchanting.
Raj buys a huge bumper pack of biscuits. When the jeep pulls over it is obvious why he bought so many. Black faced monkeys are everywhere. We feed the hungry little men out of the windows, they surround the car, some jumping on top. We drive along until we get to the bridge. We stop and get out. The monkeys are calm but eager to be fed. Fuckin wow! I decide at that very moment, my first experience with the little fellas, that I love monkeys.
The baba lives far away, deep in the wilderness of Rajasthan. A baba is a holy man who has not married and has dedicated his life to religion, usually Hinduism. He stays within his home place, in this occasion it is a house. The baba is friendly and allows us to take pictures. The baba looks impressively ancient with long hair and a long grey beard, flowing orange robes and a graceful seated stance. This guy looks the authentically wise. He has many visitors and gains knowledge and wisdom from them. In return, his advice is valuable to his followers. They usually bring gifts. He also has some helpers who cook up chi and smoke pipes. Visitors pray at the temple in the garden. We are treated well. We bring food that Mungo, Raj and Vishal cook up on a log fire. We sit in the garden. It is quiet, peaceful. I feel like I’m in heaven, the sun beats down. Relaxation gripping my body in waves, I lie down. I drift into thought.
We soon go for a walk through the surrounding forest, stepping through streams. We end up bathing in a river with some locals who we saw at the babas. I’m in dream right? We climb the wall by the river and sit chilling in the cool water. This is surreal. Raj and Vishal are leading us on a magical mystery tour of the real India. Ha.