The sleepertrain to Ajmer (endstation Jaipur) is OK. AC2, 1280Rs for 1200 km, leaves Bomay at 9pm. Waking up, a dry, red, ondulating landscape shows up through the window, some mountains on the background. Waiters are running back and forth with masala chai, coffee, water, juice, vegetable cutlets, sweets — and you can get a ‘trainmade’ lunch at noon. It’s a ‘stop train’ so it slides … slowly, slowly, slowly. The doors never close, everybody can jump off and on. We pass Gujarat and enter Rajasthan. Landscape becomes dryer, with here and there a tree or some bush and cactus. Mustardseed fields are boarding the railway, peacocks are proudly walking by.
4.30pm, Ajmer. Not immediately an attractive city. It’s a marble-center, and this explains probably the dust everywhere. After a while I find my contact: Mr. Dev. Dett Sharma, a friendly old man. He arranges a private taxi for me, the driver doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Hindi, so this will be a silent trip, 60km to Tilonia.
Actually it becomes one of the most scary trips of my life! We drive on the new ‘highway’ (to Jaipur and Delhi). There’s a lot of traffic, trucks, hughe trucks. It’s a 2 lane highway, and all drivers seem to take the opposite lane. All the time our car is pushed to the side, sometimes 4 cars are passing each other on this 2 lane way. Nobody wears a seatbelt, cows, dogs, riksha’s and motorcycles and bycicles are all on the same highway. I see an old man on the backside of a bycicle, reading his newspaper – in this buzz! Women are veiled. All men are wearing colorfull, mostly orange, turbans.
We get off the highway and take a small road. The roadsign indicates: Jaipur 110 km, Delhi 350 km. The driver doesn’t know the way and has to ask for directions all the time. We get more and more into a bled, in the middle of nowhere. But everybody has a cellphone, and they seem to work everywhere.
Finally we reach the Barefoot Campus, I recognise it from the photo’s on the site. Vasu is still in hospital in Jaipur, he has problems with his respiration, but he’s getting better. I meet Mr. RamNiwas, who’s reponsible for the communication and the puppettheatre. He speaks english. He explains me briefly the how and why’s from Barefoot. The origin and basic philosophy in a nutshell. No difference in caste, nor in religion or gender. It sounds very promising. A group of 30 girls from Buthan arrived for 6 months to follow the solar engineer workshop. I’ll meet them tomorrow. I have dinner together with all Tilonia Barefoot workers Self service, and afterwards clean the plate and range it.