Protected: Spice up your holidays with some paan

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Up with the sun, up with the cattle

Good day, cows

Village life in the deserts of Rajasthan.

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A dusty watering hole

Drying lake

The old water tank of Jaisalmer, Gadi Sagar. Now, in the middle of India’s dry season, it’s a shrinking lake and cracked spit of dusty earth.

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Tobacco for sale

Chewing tobacco, the scourge of India

Look at the ground. Drive behind any jeep or van or bus. Little bits of shiny litter.

India is overrun with the empty sachets tossed aside by its tobacco chewing masses. Those same masses have one of the highest rates of mouth cancer in the world.

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In Rajasthan, they chew the paan

Delicious but disgusting

A paanwallah prepares an order from a loyal customer.

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Caravans across the Rajasthani desert

Burning sun

OK, so more like tourists on a camel “safari.” But still, one hell of a day and night in the sand dunes outside Jaisalmer.

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Now that’s one ugly mug

Awww, snap. Someone call a dentist.

Camel drivers (yes, they’re occasionally children) ready a disgruntled beast of burden for his sunset trek in the Sam dunes outside Jaisalmer.

Don’t be fooled, though. These aren’t the caravanserai days of old, when traders crossed the deserts from village to city to palace to village. These people live primarily off tourism — the almighty firangi coin — and a bit of subsistence farming. And they’re still dirt (or perhaps dust) poor.

Now, get along little oont! (Oont, being Hindi for camel.)

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That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang…

Midday heat means no work

Repairing the battlements of the Jaisalmer fort. The pressure from tourism and unrestricted, chaotic building means the fort is, in some places, in danger of collapse.

These guys wanted me to take their photo every day. They’re not technically a chain gang. For a day’s work in the sun, they make about Rs. 200, according to one of the younger ones who tried to constantly get my address.

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Doors to anywhere

Texture

I like doorways. Especially old ones. They offer some of my favorite still-life photography. See below.

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Warrens of Jaisalmer

Back alley

Jaisalmer’s fort isn’t just a relic or tourist trap. It’s a living fort, with dusty alleys and cattle dung and people going about their days.

Don’t trust that bull for a second.

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