Happy Hour in the Thar Desert

“Get the big camel!” That’s what the man said when asked if he or one of his compatriots would take me into the Thar Desert on a camel to watch the sunset. I immediately determined to go on a diet once I got home.

On the border of Pakistan in Northwest Rajasthan, the Thar is home to numerous tribes of nomadic people who traverse the arid land on camels. A helpful local in Jaisalmer told me where to find them, and after that slightly embarrassing exchange described above, I found myself astride the most magnificent, gentle beast, headed into the vast dunes, riding double in front of the camel’s young owner and driver. He spoke no English, but we managed to communicate—or at least, I thought we did, until he took me to a gathering of other desert folk in the dunes, where a kindly older gentleman offered me an orange Fanta and tried to pierce my nose with a leather punch. Unsure whether I was more concerned about the unsanitary implement, or that allowing it might result in me being married to someone in the group afterward, I managed to dissuade him.

As evening approached, the happily chattering group of nomads slowly quieted, settled their Dromedary steeds in the warm sand, and we all sat in a row, like birds on a wire, facing the horizon to watch the tangerine sun descend and disappear together.

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