Thar: Walking miles in their shoes

BY AMAR MEHBOOB

Of all the changes that have taken place in Thar in recent years, cellular phones have had the most profound impact. They have connected communities separated by centuries and miles of sand dunes.

I could have sworn it felt like the carnival was in town, but the villagers of Sakri joked it was my wedding instead: “All these people have come to take a look at you, as if you were a bride,” smiled my guide Dilip Sodha, a bheel school teacher. “All you need now is aghoonghat.”

And thus started our journey. I was the bride that everyone was just ecstatic to see, the virgin who had not walked the Thar. Will he be able to do it? Is he crazy? Can he even walk a mile? Why does a man who can cross the desert in his jeep in a matter of hours want to walk with us, the penniless? Is there money involved?

But I was entering another dimension; this was my personal wormhole to discovering what the human spirit really entails. Is it about “conquering the final frontiers” or “boldly going where no one has gone before”? Or is it something more down to earth, about the indomitable will to survive and to persevere against the harshest of conditions.

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