We then travelled further, leaving Osian and the school in the desert further behind, to the town that Bablu is from. I believe it is called Nossi, but I might be wrong.
It is home to Bishnoi people – who are also known as eco-warriors. Since the 15th century they have made a religion out of extreme environmentalism, following the 29 rules of their far-sighted guru Jambheshwar, which include the injunction to not chop down any trees. Visiting the Bishnoi is like entering an alternative world where nature is respected and the untouched trees provide a haven for an astonishing wealth of wildlife.
We stopped there for two hours. Gary and Ian went to the school to meet with the teacher and hand over stationary and sweets, while giving out the prints of the pictures they took a few days ago.
I decided to venture off on my own, as it felt perfectly safe. The individual families lived in small complexes that included shelters for the animals, plus a few huts. The huts had different purposes, some were for cooking, other for storing grains and others for sleeping/living. It was incredible to see!
The people seemed to enjoy a very basic, but happy life. Everyone seemed happy and was smiling – the majority of people spoke some English and everyone wanted to know where I’m from, what my name is and how I like India! I made so much small talk, it was incredible. Also, everyone tried to offer me something – I had to turn down so many offers!
I finally gave in and visited this lovely family in their small hut – the wife made tea for their husband and me. The husband shared the tea with his toddler daughter, but apart from that no one else was drinking. Everyone was watching me!
The husband introduced me to his young wife, who was very shy and didn’t like her picture taken. Her husband made me do it, which made everyone laugh, including her. So she gave in and asked for more pictures to be taken!
While I was inside the hut, more people gathered outside – clearly the news that a stranger was inside had travelled fast! This guy was covered in pink, he told me that was already for Holi (which was weeks later!). I’m not sure whether to believe him, but he looked nice!
Of course, everywhere I went, the kids noticed me first – most of them immediately asked for one picture. They clearly had met Ian and Gary and knew that they would get the prints in return!
There were also several friends and family members that wanted to have their picture taken – within the 2 hours that I was in the village, I must have taken more than 200 pictures! At one point I stopped to look for the best light or background, it was impossible. I was being pulled in all directions and every person tried to have his/her picture taken. It was crazy!
Luckily my friends from the family where I stayed for tea were around – the girls came to my help when people were pushing me around too strongly. They tried to sort everyone in a queue, so that those that had their picture taken were not disturbed by others photoboming the picture, but that was almost impossible!
In the end, our time in the village was up and we had to say goodbye, which was quite emotional – two of the girls had already made friends with me and didn’t want to let me go. They were very sweet and it was a great privilege to meet them, and to see how the people in Nossi live.