Dinner among camels and Camel Charisma guesthouse

Camels are fascinating animals, but they need more friends and people who understand them. The Raika and their intriguing culture are under a lot of pressure, despite their camels being state animal. To increase understanding of the camels, the Raika and their situation, Camel Charisma and LPPS, the two organisations I am associated with, will now offer various opportunities for visitors to interact with camels and their keepers. You can have dinner among a camel herd and you can stay on the LPPS campus, you could even "be a Raika" for a day (or longer) by helping herding and taking care of camels. Please write to us at lpps.sadri1996@gmail.com if you are interested - these arrangements have to be booked in advance!

 

Reading at Camp Bliss in Pushkar Camel Fair

I'll be reading from "Camel Karma" on 26th October and 1st November during a Dinner event hosted by Camp Bliss at Pushkar Fair. More information at http://www.pushkarcamelfair.com/events-programme-wild-books/

Looking forward to meeting you there and answering any questions you might have about camels and their keepers!

Camels of Rajasthan: new website launched by LPPS

The Pushkar Fair is coming up soon; camel breeders will start arriving about a week from now, around 25th October. Many of our Raika friends are still uncertain whether they will take the trouble to go - actually they have been asking us to take their camels along, because they fear it may not be worth their time and effort due to the planned legislation stopping movement of camels across Rajasthan's borders. A new website has been launched by LPPS that calls for a different approach to saving Rajasthan's camels. Please have a look at www.camelsofrajasthan.com and also follow us on twitter @camelsrajasthan.

What a launch!

Camel Karma's launch was simply wonderful! The setting in the fragrant Chokelao Bagh garden against the backdrop of the truly majestic Mehrangarh Fort. One of my favourite camel related songs "Gorbandh"  played by Manganiyar musicians. My long-term Raika friends including internationally famous pastoralist activist, Dailibai. Staff and interns of LPPS in attendance. The book wrapped in camel poo paper.....

Unwrapping the book from its camel poo paper packaging! From left to right: Ilse, Hanwant Singh, Dr. Dewaram Dewasi, Col. Dr. Umaid Singh, His Highness, and Shree Babulal Raika.

Unwrapping the book from its camel poo paper packaging!

From left to right: Ilse, Hanwant Singh, Dr. Dewaram Dewasi, Col. Dr. Umaid Singh, His Highness, and Shree Babulal Raika.

 

Most of all the wise words and kind support of His Highness Maharaja Shri Gaj Singhji II of Marwar-Jodhpur who noted the instrumental role of the Rathore Rajputs in the history of the camel in Rajasthan and called for a new approach to saving it.

If we want to save the camel, it has to once again become relevant to the people of Rajasthan.
— H.H. Maharaja Shri Gaj Singhji II of Marwar-Jodhpur

Before his vote of thanks, Hanwant Singhji, presented His Highness with an assortment of camel products - stoles, dhurries, soaps and poo paper items - which met with much appreciation. Later there was some light-hearted banter between all of the launch guests.

   

 

 

Then, while I was signing books, the Raika engaged in photo sessions and made friends with Thakurani Jyotika Kumari Diggi, the host of the Jaipur Lit Festival

A memorable event by all standards, and we just hope that Camel Karma will help to highlight both camels and the unique Raika culture they are associated with!

Our camel herder Manaram Raika

For the last twenty years, we have been doing all we can think of to save Rajasthan's unique and wonderful camel culture. But mostly it was a bit "hands off", in so far as we did not actually manage and look after our own camels on a daily basis. Instead the offspring of "Mira", the first camel I bought in 1991 at Pushkar fair,  was taken care of by Raika herders from Jojawar, Latada and other villages.

But in 2013, the situation changed. When our three young male camels did not sell at Pushkar (or would only have sold for meat), we decided to bring them home. After all we had a camel enclosure ready in Butibagh that had not been inhabited since the camels that had accompanied us on our camel yatra had left us to become stud camels. And we also had just adopted an orphaned camel girl, Moomal, from Jaisalmer, who really needed some company.

So there we were, finally having a small camel herd in our own backyard, so to speak. It was a lovely feeling, but with all our other commitments, it became pretty clear that we still needed to have somebody looking after them and taking them out for a daily browse. So started the search for a Raika, who still had the skill and inclination to herd camels.

With the help of our friends, we were fortunate to find Manaram Raika, who is not just a camel man, but also has experience herding buffaloes (more lucrative than herding camels) and has travelled on long-distance sheep migration to Madhya Pradesh.