Camel days

These days, my head is full of elephants, but there was a time when I was obsessed with camels.

That was back in the 80s, when Srini and I were newly married and living in Gujarat. Through the twelve years of studying, working, growing our family by two kids and a dog, visiting unforgettable places like Sabarmati ashram, Lothal and village co-ops, dancing garba and dandiya ras like there was no tomorrow, eating and learning to cook delicious besanish Gujju food – through all this, the camels never ceased to be a source of wonder and fascination. Every time we saw a camel cart or a line of camels walking along the road, we would be absolutely floored. Though we saw them every day (and once even encountered a runaway camel), it never did become an everyday matter to us. The kids would belt out ‘The camels are coming oho oho!’ at the first sign of a large gaunt yellow animal.

Then we moved to Bangalore, and the camel adventures sadly came to an end: as well as the the exuberant splashes of colour against a dusty landscape. I finally managed to write Gujarat out of my system in two books – The Smile of Vanuvati, which features a camel and an archaeological dig; and The Leopard’s Paw, which languishes unpublished in my computer. (I think it’s a pretty good book, though!)

In recent years, I have been looking forward to WP friend David Kanigan’s series of posts, Guess.What.Day.It.Is. A camel picture a week! Thanks, David, for the Wednesday treats. (Where’s this week’s, though?!)

In a fit of nostalgia, I started digging through old photos for camel pics. I came up with just two, but they are loaded with memories.

Kheda district, home of stalwarts like Vallabhbhai Patel, Tribhuvandas Patel and Verghese Kurien. And that’s me with my nephew, niece, elder daughter and two month old baby, plus a bunch of bhais hitching a ride
A seemingly endless caravan of camels with their rabaris. Like all good things, of course, it did end!

22 responses to “Camel days

  1. Wow, you really did make the most of your 12 camelly years. In spite of 30-odd years in neighbouring Rajasthan, I never did get into a camel cart. There were plenty of camels looking down upon us superciliously, a few strands of hay stuck at a rakish angle in the mouth, and one of them always stopped chewing as if shocked to see us, I wonder why! But no cart anywhere in sight.

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    • Haha! Your description hits the nail on the head. Yes, we did make the most of our time there, bit we were broke most of the time and couldn’t travel much. Wish we could have gone to Kutch, and to the Pushkar fair!

      More camels coming soon – just found some more pics!

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    • Thanks, Prerna! That’s something to look forward to, when this Covid is behind us! We loved Vadodara – so much old world charm; not to mention one of the best kept zoos in the country! In the early days, it was our nearest railway station – trains from the south wouldn’t stop at Anand. (Later, they gave us a two minute halt.) We spent many happy hours roaming around your home town, sampling the food and the sights.

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  3. Harini – that’s a lovely post – nostalgia enlivened with old photographs of times that appear simpler and sweeter. Talking of Gujarat – aren’t you going to write ‘Donkey Days’? And share ‘The Leopard’s Paw’ too?

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  4. Your camel stories are fascinating, Harini. I also like these animals. I have never seen them in India but I rode on one in Egypt. Near the pyramids, camel drivers were waiting for tourists to offer them rides. Of course I had to try that.
    So you lived in Gujarat too. I will have to look it up in wikipedia. Another place I know nothing about ….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Olivia! That must have been fun!

      You know so much more about India than I do about Russia – such a vast, complex and fascinating country! I wonder if I’ll ever see it! Apart from a few of the Russian classics like Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov, and many Soviet children’s books, my most vivid impressions of your country are from the movie Fiddler on the Roof.

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