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In Rajasthan, I spent six days travelling from Bikaner to Phalodi by camel. The typical camel safari is a three day affair that takes you around a circle to see the sights of the desert, and returns you to your starting point. I wanted something different. Something that was more like travelling, and less like sightseeing. After a fortuitous encounter with a camel operator at the Bikaner tourism office, I arranged for myself and an Australian to start from Bikaner, ride across the Thar desert, and end at the town of Phalodi.

Rajasthan had been suffering through four years of drought. In the desert, water is the difference between wealth and poverty, life and death. Nothing was green, except for the deep rooted acacia trees and the farms lucky enough to be near a well. Outside the irrigated areas, most of the farmers had given up on planting seed. We passed by villages eking a living through herding goats and cattle, surrounded by fields of sand.

It was an eye opening experience to ride through desolation at a camel's pace, to feel the harshness of the desert, and know that for most of the people there, it was the only way of life. A far cry from the world of cell phones and lattes.