While traveling through Rajasthan, my driver took me to meet a Bishnoi family in a village outside of Jodhpur. This is the matriarch of the family whose beautiful silver bangles on her arms and ankles and gold nose and earrings identify her as a member of the Bishnoi tribe and are her only monetary wealth. She gave me a tour of her sparse but spotless home and showed me how to grind millet flour on her stone mill. She was especially proud to show me her family photos. I marveled at the sparrows nest hung from the rafters of her living room.
Outside in the courtyard her son showed me how they prepared their tribe's traditional drink - opium tea and offered for me to sip some out of his cupped hand. He then took me to the grasslands outside the village to look for black buck, beautiful antelope with horns that curl into graceful upward spirals. Well camouflaged, the deer were like fuzzy mirages in the brown landscape until you looked at them for a while. We saw several that day, but only because I was fortunate to have a good guide. Bishnoi have a long history conserving wildlife in the harsh deserts of Rajathan and are considered the protectors of black buck and all trees.